Former Toronto Blue Jays star Roy Halladay passed away Tuesday after crashing his plane off the coast of Pasco, Fla. He was 40 years old.
The 16-year MLB veteran spent the majority of his career playing for the Blue Jays, where he established himself as one of the sport’s greatest pitchers. Halladay was in many ways a bright light for the team and their fans during some of their darkest times.
Selected by the Jays in the first round of the 1995 MLB draft, Halladay’s long list of accomplishments includes becoming one of only six players in league history to win a Cy Young Award in both the American League and National League. Beyond this, he is also the twentieth player in MLB history to pitch a perfect game—a feat he accomplished on May 29, 2010 while playing for the Philadelphia Phillies. Several months later, he became just the second player to throw a no-hitter in an MLB playoff game.
In addition to his stellar play on the field, Halladay became a fan favourite throughout the league and particularly among Blue Jays fans due to his congeniality. During his career he became involved with many charitable causes, including inviting children from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and their families to sit in his private suite at the Rogers Centre during Blue Jays games. His contract with the Blue Jays also included an annual $100,000 donation to the Jays Care Foundation.
His philanthropy continued even after his playing career had ended, as he continued to run his own charity—The Isaac Foundation—which aims to “provide support and advocacy for patients and families coping with rare diseases.”
In addition to his charity work, Halladay remained involved in the sport post-retirement by serving as a guest instructor for both the Blue Jays and the Phillies.
He was the ultimate role model for young baseball fans all across Canada; two such fans are students Thomas Cromwell and Zach Dunseith, who both considered Halladay an inspiration growing up.
“I saw my first game when I was ten and he was the first pitcher I saw for the Jays. My family and I go see the Jays play every summer, so I saw him pitch every year until they traded him to the Phillies. I never pitched much as a kid, […] but he still inspired me with his work ethic and dominance over opposing teams,” said Cromwell.
“Roy Halladay was one of the very first professional athletes that I knew and could recognize growing up,” said Dunseith. “He made me a fan of the Blue Jays and helped form my love of the Blue Jays and Toronto sports in general. Even when the Jays were in bad form Roy Halladay always made you want to find a TV and watch him pitch.”
Halladay is survived by his wife Brandy and their two children.
The Brunswickan offers its condolences to all who have been affected by his tragic and untimely passing.