Loss of an Icon in an Icon

There is no doubt that Roy Halladay was a legendary baseball pitcher in a city starved for sports heroes.  Although he played 12 of his 16 seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays, the team that drafted him in the first round in 1995 and put him in the minors straight out of high school, every picture of him in the massive news media coverage of his untimely death shows him in a Phillies uniform.

The Halladay Family issued the following statement yesterday:

Our family is heartbroken in confirming that Roy passed away in a plane crash Tuesday afternoon. While many will remember him for his success as a major league pitcher, we remember him as an amazing father, loving husband and loyal friend.

Roy had many accomplishments in his professional career, the memories of which we will cherish forever. He described each achievement as a team effort rather than an individual accomplishment, a true testament to his character and love for his teammates.
Roy grew up with a passion for planes and always had the goal of becoming a pilot. Since retiring from baseball, he has been actively studying, accumulating the required flight hours and obtaining multiple pilot certifications and licenses. Just as he was known for his work ethic in baseball, he was also widely respected by those who knew him in the aviation community for his hard work, attention to detail and dedication to safety while flying.

He treated his passion for aviation with the same joy and enthusiasm as he did his love for baseball.  That passion was also expressed through his tireless dedication to helping his own children and so many others learn to love and respect the game of baseball. He was an amazing coach for many youth teams, always showing patience and encouragement while reminding each child that they all had a role to play, a way to contribute and add value to their team. His love for the game had no boundaries as we often saw him instructing and encouraging the players on opposing teams. Roy was selfless in every aspect of his life.

While we mourn the loss of the core of our family, we choose to celebrate him and remember the man we knew privately on and off the field. We hope that he serves as an example of professionalism, integrity and hard work for all who knew him. For us, we will forever remember his unconditional love, humility and the sacrifices he made to provide for the family that meant the world to him.

On behalf of our family we thank you for respecting our privacy during this time of overwhelming grief. We also ask that you respect the privacy of our extended family as well as the families and children who Roy has coached, taught or worked with. We are so fortunate and thankful for the outpouring of love and support we’ve received from across the world. A celebration of life will be held on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida. The service will be open to the public.

Harry Leroy Halladay III won’t be eligible for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame until 2019, and it’s likely that he’ll make it in on the first ballot.  But Roy is already a Hall of Famer in the Arizona Fall League.



Roy was inducted into the AFL Hall in 2006 when he was a Blue Jay.  No doubt if his plaque were re-done today it would add a bullet point that he won 41 major league games from the 2010 through 2011 seasons for the Phillies as well, the two years in which he became a beloved Philadelphia figure while adding another Cy Young Award to his credits.  It’s remarkable to realize that over his 16 years he had only two losing seasons, one in 2000 when he went all the away back to Dunedin and Class A ball to re-invent himself, and his last year when injury ended his career in 2013.

In celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2012, the AFL took a poll to determine the best alum for each year and Halladay won in a landslide.  He had already made his major league debut as a September call up in 1998 for the Blue Jays, but was assigned to the Grand Canyon Rafters that year for further polishing.

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 8.12.12 AM

The Grand Canyon Rafters (forerunner of the Salt River Rafters) played their home games in Surprise Stadium in 1998.  Just after the start of yesterday’s game in Surprise, and for several innings, a couple of military jets were doing flight maneuvers and breaking the sound barrier.  As Phillies prospects Cornelius Randolph and Zach Green looked skyward, I couldn’t help but wonder if Roy Halladay and what he symbolized was on their minds.


About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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