In their first public comments since Tuesday’s fatal plane crash, the family of Major League Baseball star Roy Halladay announced plans to hold a public celebration of the All-Star pitcher’s life on Tuesday in Clearwater and defended his flying credentials.
Halladay, 40, was killed when the ICON 5 sport plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the Pasco County coast. The National Transportation Safety Board said witnesses observed the plane “maneuvering at a low altitude” over the water.
The celebration will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Clearwater’s Spectrum Field, the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Halladay pitched for the team from 2009 until retiring after the 2013 season, and had worked there as a spring training instructor.
He also pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays, who train in Dunedin, and lived in Odessa with his wife and two sons, whom he coached.
Halladay's family issued this statement:
"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."
WHAT: The public is invited to attend a memorial service for All-Star pitcher Roy Halladay.
WHEN: 4 p.m. Tuesday.
WHERE: Spectrum Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater.