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Max Rosenfeld

Remembering Roy Halladay, Hall of Fame Pitcher and Person

Max Rosenfeld writes a heartfelt tribute to future Hall of Famer Roy “Doc” Halladay, who tragically lost his life in a plane crash yesterday.

Heaven’s rotation gained another ace yesterday, as former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies star Roy “Doc” Halladay tragically lost his life when his plane crashed off Florida’s Gulf Coast on Tuesday afternoon. Halladay was the plane’s sole occupant. The details of the crash are still to be determined.

Halladay is survived by his wife, Brandy and two sons, Ryan and Braden. He was 40 years old.

Halladay will go down as one of the greatest pitchers to ever live and the model of success for an entire generation. During his time with the Blue Jays and Phillies, Halladay routinely mesmerized us with his beautiful pitching and graceful behavior. In his prime, there was not a batter in the world that wanted to step foot in the box against Halladay. There wasn’t anyone who didn’t want to shake his hand either.

It is simply impossible to sum up the totality of Halladay’s impactful life, but we can surely appreciate the greatness he provided on the field. Halladay retired in 2013 after pitching 16 seasons with the Blue Jays and Phillies. In 2010, he threw just the 20th perfect game in Major League history and pitched the second no-hitter in postseason history later that year. But Halladay was not a flash in the pan- his career was marked by unbelievable consistency. Halladay was an eight-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young award winner.

At his peak, Halladay was the greatest pitcher in baseball.

His stuff was that of legend. Halladay owned a devastating cutter and bowling ball sinker that he rode to a career .659 winning percentage, good for seventh of all time. Between 2006 and 2011, Halladay finished within the top five for Cy Young voting every year.

Halladay was a bulldog. He was famous for his routine of not speaking to anyone, including teammates, on the days of his starts. Halladay was revered for his relentless approach on the mound despite being dubbed a bust early in his career, when the Blue Jays demoted him to Single-A because they did not believe he was good enough to succeed. Much like everyone else at the time, the organization underestimated his heart.

But above all, Halladay was respected and admired. Following the news of his death, the baseball community displayed their heartbreak in unison.

It is crucial to remember that there is a human element to this tragedy as well. Beyond Halladay the pitcher, there is Halladay the person. Halladay the husband. Halladay the father. Halladay the leader.

2008 MLB All-Star Game, Roy Halladay

By all accounts, the right hander was a Hall of Fame individual, not just a once in a generation baseball player. He often took time to engage with fans and give advice to other pitchers around the game, though no one could dare approach his greatness. He was a humble legend.

His utter domination on the mound can be encapsulated by his performance on October 6th, 2010- his first postseason start. Having spent the first portion of his career in Toronto, Halladay had never before pitched in the postseason. His playoff debut was one of the most greatly anticipated starts in recent history. By then, Halladay’s greatness was already recognized.

Halladay was set to face the Cincinnati Reds, a team filled with All Stars and imposing bats. But as was typically the case with Halladay, the Reds stood no chance.

It took Halladay just 28 batters to retire the Reds in 9 complete innings. The only man who reached base was outfielder Jay Bruce, who walked with two outs in the fifth inning.

In short, Halladay was masterful. It still is just the second no-hitter in postseason history. The no-hitter was an absolutely mesmerizing but (somehow) unsurprising result for the best pitcher of his time. Halladay waited for twelve long years to appear in a postseason game. And just like he did for the entirety of his Cooperstown-bound career, he did not disappoint.

The game was baseball history. Roy Halladay was baseball history.

Halladay now joins an unfortunate list of baseball players who passed away in recent memory, most notably Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins and Yordano Ventura of the Kansas City Royals.

Halladay’s passion for planes was evident during his career. His father was a commercial flight pilot and Halladay often spoke about his desire to fly once his player days were over. He excitedly posted pictures of his beloved ICON A5 sport aircraft- the same one in which his life would ultimately end- in the weeks and months before the crash.

In 2003, the Toronto Star interviewed Halladay about his life on and off the playing field. When asked about what profession he would have held had he not been a baseball player, Halladay’s answer was obvious. His life as an athlete prevented him from fulfilling one of his goals, but Halladay knew what he wanted to be when he had the chance.

A pilot, just like his dad.

Halladay will first be eligible for baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2019. Undoubtedly, he will qualify.

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Max is a student at Saint Joseph's University where he is a Communication Studies major. He is a contributing writer for Baseknock MLB and the host of the Payoff Pitch Podcast, which airs every Tuesday morning.

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