HOLIDAY, FL (WTXF/AP) - Roy Halladay, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who pitched a perfect game and a playoff no-hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies, died Tuesday when his private plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He was 40.
Pasco County Sheriff said during a news conference that Halladay's ICON A5 went down about noon Tuesday near Holiday, Florida.
The sheriff's office marine unit responded to the downed plane and found Halladay's body. No survivors were found.
Aerial footage from FOX 13 showed a badly damaged light-colored plane upside-down in the water, with several emergency boats circling. Officials say the plane was found in 4 feet of water and was equipped with two data recorders.
Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco remembered him as a friend of the department -- "one in a million," Nocco opined - who had donated funds to buy a K9 officer and who humbly participated in charity events.
"I saw him Friday," Nocco said sadly. "We had a charity fishing event. Sadly, we were right here in these waters right here, fishing for charity. Roy was right here with us. And I can tell you, being a pilot and flying planes - that was his passion."
The Philadelphia Phillies released the following statement on his passing:
Halladay, who retired after the 2013 season, was an amateur pilot who 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.
Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. issued the following statement today regarding the death of former Major League All-Star pitcher Roy Halladay:
"All of us at Baseball are shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic passing of former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay. A well-respected figure throughout the game, Roy was a fierce competitor during his 16-year career, which included eight All-Star selections, two Cy Young Awards, a perfect game and a Postseason no-hitter.
"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, including his wife, Brandy, and two sons, Ryan and Braden, his friends and countless fans, as well as the Blue Jays and Phillies organizations."
The Philadelphia Eagles and the 76ers offered their condolences.
Former teammates, coaches and fans mourned the sudden loss of the beloved former player, who was known for his tireless work ethic. Nearly every memory began with a story about Halladay's legendary workout program and his early morning routine.
Halladay even outworked Chase Utley.
The fan favorites quickly became close friends after Halladay was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies before the 2010 season. Utley recalled his introduction to Halladay at the team's practice complex in Clearwater, Florida.
"My heart hurts writing this," Utley wrote on Instagram. "I can still remember the first day we met. It was 5:45am on the first day of spring training when I arrived. He was finishing his breakfast but his clothes were soaking wet. I asked if it was raining when he got in. He laughed and said `No I just finished my workout.' I knew right then -- he was the real deal. Thank you Roy for allowing us to witness what it takes to be the best. We will all miss you."
Former teammate Cole Hamels, currently a Texas Rangers ace, joined Phillies chairman David Montgomery at Philadelphia's ballpark to remember Halladay. Fans left pictures, candles and notes outside the stadium to honor Halladay, who played four years there after spending his first 12 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays.
"Behind everything he did, he had a purpose," Hamels said. "I think you come to realize that you have very small, short moments in life to do something great so you have to maximize it. You have to make the best of it. And he did. He made us push to a level that sometimes you didn't think you could actually reach. He made everybody better."
Halladay won a Cy Young Award in each league and tossed a perfect game and a no-hitter in his first postseason start in the same year after coming to the Phillies. The 6-foot-6 right-hander was a three-time 20-game winner who finished 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA.
Halladay was a devoted husband to wife Brandy and a loving father to sons Ryan and Braden.
"All-Star pitcher. All-Star person. All-Star father and family man," Montgomery said.