Roy Halladay had a passion for flying airplanes that nearly matched his love of baseball.
The son of a corporate pilot, Halladay quickly got his license to fly — despite his wife’s misgivings. The eight-time All-Star fulfilled his dream when he purchased his own plane last month.
Halladay died Tuesday when that private plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He was 40.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said during a news conference in Holiday, Florida, that Halladay’s ICON A5 went down around noon off the coast. The sheriff’s office marine unit responded and discovered Halladay’s body in shallow water near some mangroves. No survivors were found.
Police said they couldn’t confirm if there were additional passengers on the plane or say where it was headed. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
Halladay, who retired after the 2013 season, often posted on social media about small planes .
“I have dreamed about owning a A5 since I retired! Real life is better then my dreams!!” Halladay tweeted on Oct. 13.
ICON aircraft had posted a video with Halladay trying out a new plane. The video showed Halladay taking delivery of a new ICON A5, a two-seat “light-sport aircraft” that can land on water.
In the video, Halladay said the terms of his baseball contract prevented him from having a pilot’s license while playing, and that his wife was originally against the idea of him getting the aircraft.
“She’s fought me the whole way,” Halladay said.
“Hard. I fought hard. I was very against it,” Brandy Halladay said in the same video, before explaining why she eventually understood and approved of her husband’s desire to have the plane. The couple has two sons, Ryan and Braden.
Halladay spent 12 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays followed by four seasons with the Phillies. He was 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA.
Other baseball players to die in plane crashes include Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente in a relief mission from Puerto Rico traveling to earthquake victims in Nicaragua on New Year’s Eve in 1972; New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson piloting his own plane near his home in Canton, Ohio, in 1979; and Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle piloting a private plane in New York City in 2006.
Halladay was nominated several times for the Roberto Clemente Award, given by Major League Baseball to players for sportsmanship and community involvement. The Halladay Family Foundation has aided children’s charities, hunger relief and animal rescue.
A 6-foot-6 right-hander, Halladay was a throwback on the mound. Durable and determined to finish what he started, Halladay won the AL Cy Young in 2003 after going 22-7 and the NL prize in 2010 after going 21-10 in his first season with the Phillies.
In 2011, Halladay was part of the “Four Aces” rotation in Philadelphia with Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. Halladay and the Phillies lost 1-0 to St. Louis in the deciding Game 5 of the NL Division Series. Halladay’s close friend Chris Carpenter outpitched him in that game.
The A5 was a newer model from ICON, based in Vacaville, California, designed for starter pilots.
According to the NTSB’s website, two other ICON A5s crashed earlier this year, the only reported U.S. accidents involving the aircraft since it debuted three years ago. Both were attributed to pilot error.
ICON released a statement saying it was “devastated” to learn of Halladay’s death and that it plans to aid the accident investigation however possible. (AP)