Roy Halladay passed away on Tuesday following a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico. At just 40 years old the news was both stunning and heartbreaking. He touched the lives of so many, not only with his feats of greatness on the mound, but with his caring nature.

The Beginning of a Hall of Fame Career

Roy Halladay came into the Major Leagues in 1998 surrounded by high hopes. He had been a 1st round pick of the Blue Jays in 1995 and proceeded to pitch two excellent games at the end of the ’98 season. But after a solid season in 1999, Halladay’s career appeared to be on the ropes the following year. With an ERA of 10.64 over 19 appearances, the Blue Jays shipped Halladay all the way back to A ball in 2000. This move could have destroyed the confidence of anyone and expedited their path out of the sport. Roy Halladay wasn’t just anyone though. He came back from the experience, stronger than ever and with a mission.

Halladay returned to the majors in midseason of 2001. After a rocky first game back pitching in relief, Halladay made 16 starts, posting a 2.71 ERA. He took his previous failure in stride and used it as motivation to become better.

Roy Halladay pitching in some fashionable Toronto Blue Jays uniforms.

Peak Performance

For the next decade Halladay was at the top of the sport, possibly the best pitcher in all of baseball. He averaged 17 wins with a 2.97 ERA over that decade long span. Halladay won two Cy Young Awards while also finishing runner-up in two others. From 2006-2011, he never finished worse than 5th in any Cy Young vote. In an often overlooked stat, but no less meaningful, Halladay had five seasons in which he struck out 200 batters while walking less than 40.

One thing that endeared Halladay to so many was his bulldog mentality. He wanted the ball, and he wanted to stay on the mound all game. He was there to help his team win games, and he wouldn’t be able to do that from the dugout. Halladay led the league in complete games for five consecutive seasons from 2007-2011, and seven times during his career. He also earned the respect of others with his work ethic. He didn’t just go from A ball to one of the best pitchers in the game overnight. Halladay put in the work and then maintained it throughout the rest of his career.

Philadelphia Phillies

In 2010, after years of pitching on mediocre teams in Toronto, Halladay was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. He finally got to pitch for a team good enough to head to the postseason. Given his mentality, no one should have questioned whether he’d be a playoff performer. Then again, no one could have predicted what would happen next either. In Halladay’s very first playoff start of his career, at the age of 34, he threw a no-hitter. In 1264 playoff games in Major League history there had only been one no-hitter thrown. Halladay managed to be the second to ever accomplish this feat in his very first attempt. This also happened to be his second no-hitter of the season, having thrown a perfect game in May of that year.

Roy Halladay waves to the crowd after pitching a no-hitter in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on October 6, 2010. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

A Hall of Fame Person

Roy Halladay was a remarkable competitor and fantastic pitcher, one who will surely get strong Hall of Fame consideration when he appears on the ballot starting in 2019. However, I am not here to only talk about Roy Halladay the baseball pitcher. Pitching in front of millions he was able to touch countless lives and bring joy to many just from the way he was able to throw a baseball. Halladay used that fame and success to touch the lives of so many more  and make the world a better place.

Halladay did a lot of charitable work and had his own foundation. The Halladay Family Foundation has aided children’s charities, hunger relief and animal rescue. A lot of his work came with underprivileged children. At the Roger’s Centre, where the Blue Jays play their home games, there was a box called “Doc’s Box,” named for Roy’s nickname. Halladay would often invite children and their families to sit there and take in Blue Jays games. He also had it in his contract with the Blue Jays to donate $100,000 every year to the “Jays Care Foundation.”

The Roberto Clemente Award is given to an individual who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team”. Roy Halladay was nominated for this award many times over the years due to his charitable work off the field and his work ethic and sportsmanship on the field.

Peer Reactions

The outpouring of comments from fans and former ballplayers on social media says it all; the baseball world is in mourning.

Leaving Behind a Legacy

Halladay left behind a wife and two children, who he had just started getting to spend more time with the last few years since his retirement. He stated he wanted to be more active with his kids and their own baseball careers when he retired, and he did just that by coaching their baseball teams.

Tuesday we not only lost a great baseball player, but a fine human being. Millions mourn the loss of Halladay, not just the baseball world, but the countless lives he touched while he was with us. Halladay did more to help his fellow man than most of us ever will. He was a shining example of what so many others should strive to be.

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