Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay is dead after his plane crashed into shallow waters off the coast of Florida on Tuesday, officials with the Pasco Sheriff's Office confirm.
Halladay's ICON A5 light sport aircraft crashed into the Gulf of Mexico about 10 miles west of St. Petersburg at around noon.
According to the Pasco Sheriff's Office, there were no mayday calls sent out prior to the crash.
Halladay, 40, was the only occupant of the plane.
“Many know Roy as a Cy Young winner and future hall of famer but we know Roy as a person, as a caring husband who loved his wife Brandy and loved his two boys. When he spoke of his family he spoke with pride and to Brandy and the boys and the entire family we are so sad for your loss,” Sheriff Chris Nocco told reporters on Tuesday afternoon. “We know how much he meant to you and we know how much you meant to him.”
Nocco said it is too early to speculate on what may have caused the crash.
He said that Halladay’s death is a tragedy, not just for his family and the baseball world but for the Tampa Bay community that he called home.
“He was one of the nicest human beings. A lot of time you hear about egos and money with sports athletes, that was not Roy,” he said. “Roy was the most down-to-earth person. If you had dropped something, Roy would be the first person to bend down and pick it up. If you were in need, Roy would be the first to say, ‘How can I help you?’ Except for the fact that he was six-foot-six, you would have never guessed this guy was a professional athlete.”
An eight-time all-star and two time Cy Young Winner, Halladay or “Doc” as he was known to fans played for the Blue Jays between 1998 and 2009 and the Philadelphia Phillies from 2010 to 2013.
His playing career was cut short by a persistent back injury and officially ended on Dec. 9, 2013 after he signed a one-day contract that allowed him to retire as a member of the Blue Jays.
Widely known as a class act on and off the field, Halladay took out a full page advertisement in the Toronto Sun after being traded to the Phillies in 2009. In the advertisement, Halladay said he felt blessed to have been a part of the Blue Jays organization and was always in “awe” of the “overwhelming compassion and devotion” of the team’s fans.
“The memories will last a lifetime and so will my gratitude,” he wrote at the time.
Forever in our hearts.— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) November 8, 2017
Rest in peace, Doc. pic.twitter.com/OLGSxhXWjN
Halladay is second on the Blue Jays all-time wins list with 148 and also has the second most strikeouts in team history with 1,495.
In a statement posted after his death was confirmed on Tuesday, the Blue Jays said that the whole organization is “overcome with grief” over the death of “one of the franchise’s greatest and most respected players.”
“It is impossible to express what he has meant to this franchise, the city and its fans,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement the Philadelphia Phillies said they were “numb” over the news of Halladay’s death. Halladay won a Cy Young with the Phillies in 2010, a season in which he also became just the second player in baseball to pitch a no-hitter in the post-season.
"We are numb over the very tragic news about Roy Halladay's untimely death," the statement read. "There are no words to describe the sadness that the entire Phillies family is feeling over the loss of one of the most respected human beings to ever play the game. It is with the heaviest of hearts that we pass along our condolences to Brandy, Ryan and Braden."
Current and former Jays saddened over Halladay’s death
Halladay won’t be eligible for enshrinement in the baseball hall of fame until 2019 but is likely to be a first-ballot inductee when that time comes.
Officials say a moment of silence will be observed for Halladay before tonight's Raptors game.
On Twitter on Tuesday, a number of current and former Blue Jays expressed their shock and sadness over the death of the franchise legend, including pitchers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.
“Day ruined. Wow. Prayers with the entire Halladay family. This is awful!,” Stroman said.
“RIP Roy 'DOC' Halladay,” added Sanchez.
Former Jays centerfielder Vernon Wells, who played with Halladay in Toronto, also took to Twitter in the moments after his death was confirmed to reflect on his legacy.
“One of the best to ever do it. I had a front row seat to watch his greatness. RIP Doc,” he wrote.
Halladay’s death on Tuesday comes less than a month after he took to Twitter to post photos of the aircraft.
In a post on Oct. 13, Halladay said he had “dreamed about owning a A5” since his retirement and had finally made that dream a reality.
“Real life is better than my dreams,” he wrote.