HOLIDAY, Fla. -- The death of major league baseball player Roy Halladay is a shock to our community.
The 40-year-old was the only one on board a small plane that went down in the Gulf of Mexico near Holiday, Tuesday afternoon.
The former Phillies pitcher was a big part of the Pasco County community.
No mayday calls were made to air traffic controllers before he crashed.
Halladay’s impact was felt across the Tampa Bay area. He volunteered as a coach for his son’s baseballs teams at Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater and for a traveling team called the Florida Burn.
We caught up with one of the players at Calvary Christian who was on the same plane with Roy just three days ago.
“It’s so surreal right now, to think this happened,” said Matheu Nelson. 18-year-old Matheu Nelson, a senior Calvary Christian High School found out about the death of a two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Roy Halladay online.
A tweet from the Pasco County Sheriff’s office confirmed total heartbreak. To Nelson, Roy was more than just a baseball legend. He was a coach, a man he saw as a mentor, even a father figure.
Nelson is close friends and teammates with Halladay’s eldest son. On Saturday, November, 4th Nelson took a plane ride with Halladay. The same plane that crashed Tuesday.
“I was over the house hanging out with a couple of friends, and his son. They’re like, hey who wants to go on the plane? I was like, I’ve never been on a plane and his son looked at me and said do you want to go with him? I said I mean sure,”
Nelson posted a video of some of their ride on social media and Roy shared his post. “We were just flying around having fun. He was just showing me around, showing me how the plane worked. Next thing you know three days later, it just shows you that you don’t know what life is going to throw at you.”
Nelson clings to that memory and others he shared with Roy and teammates.
Roy’s jovial spirit was captured in his final post on Twitter, celebrating the recent championship of the Florida Burn; a traveling team his son’s play on.
We spoke to director Mike Guthrie. “Even though he was this huge baseball legend… it doesn’t last that long if you’re not sincere when you’re coaching kids and so that’s the effect Roy had on them. He was way more than just a superstar player.”
“You see that picture there, that’s me when I was 12 years old, standing with Roy Halladay on the field for a national anthem.”
A coincidence of sorts, the baseball legend he once idolized turned out to be his coach, mentor, and friend.
Some of the memories and statements from those close to Halladay:
“Roy was the best competitor I’d ever seen and it was an honor to have managed him. He was not only a great pitcher, but also a great person and a tremendous father. His contributions to the Phillies can’t be measured. Roy was like a brother to me and we remained close after his playing days. I’m heartbroken for Brandy and the boys.”
-Charlie Manuel, Halladay’s former manager
“Roy was a guy with great character and determination and a passion to be the best. Despite coming here as one of the most established pitchers in the game, he never wanted to stop getting better. My thoughts are with Brandy, Braden and Ryan right now.”
-Rich Dubee, Halladay’s former pitching coach
“Roy Halladay was most accountable and hardest-working athlete I’d ever been around and while he was the fiercest competitor on the mound, he was also the kindest and most gentle person I’ve ever known. My heart goes out to Brandy, Braden and Ryan.”
-Ruben Amaro Jr., former Phillies General Manager
“My family and I are shocked and incredibly saddened at the news of Roy’s passing. To the world, Roy was one of the best pitchers in baseball, but to me, he was an inspiration, a great mentor, teammate, and most importantly, a friend. His preparation and work ethic will forever be ingrained in me. Roy was a man of few words, but he lit up when his boys were around. His family and this game were everything to him and there will never be a day in my own life that I won't miss him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Brandy, Ryan and Braden.”
-Cole Hamels, former teammate
“I am deeply saddened and absolutely devastated by the tragic loss of Roy Halladay. Doc was the best pitcher I ever had the privilege of sharing the field with as his preparation, consistency, passion, drive and excellence on the field was unmatched. He was a dominant force on the mound every fifth day and he made all of us better without having to say a word. Doc was a tremendous teammate who never sought out the spotlight, rather he let his greatness on the field do the talking for him. He cared about winning and being the best player and teammate possible. His career accolades speak for themselves but what I most admired about him was his love for his family and his children. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this incredibly difficult time.”
-Raúl Ibañez, former teammate
“We will all remember Roy for his amazing moments on the field, how he dialed it up in the most important situations, how he competed and left his heart on the field every time he took the ball. But he was also an incredible dad, an incredible husband and an incredible teammate. He was quiet and thoughtful, but knew how to be playful. I competed against Roy since we were in Little League together and I will remember him in that way, and as a man. It was a privilege to know him and his family, and to have been his teammate. Our hearts go out to Brandy, his kids and his family.”
-Brad Lidge, former teammate
“Roy was so much more than a teammate. He was a great man who taught me so much on and off the field. Not only did I look up to him as a pitcher, but also as a friend, father and husband. He was like an older brother to me and I will miss him. Brandy, Braden and Ryan, my thoughts are with you at this time.”
-Kyle Kendrick, former teammate
“I’m sick right now. Doc was as driven a human being as I’d ever met in my life. I’m hurting for his family and friends. We all lost a good man.”
-Scott Rolen, former teammate
“Words cannot describe what it feels like to lose a friend like Roy. He was the ultimate teammate with a passion for being the best. I’m honored to have had the chance to compete with you, Roy. My heart goes out to Brandy and his boys. RIP Doc, but knowing you, rest is not in your vocabulary.”
-Chase Utley, former teammate
“You are gone too soon, my friend. I was blessed to have shared the field with you as a teammate, competitor, friend and more importantly, brother. Praying for Brandy and the boys, my Ohana and I will do all we can for them in this tragic time. I love you, bro.”
-Shane Victorino, former teammate
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