MLB.com Columnist

Paul Hagen

RIP, Doc: 'Your favorite player's favorite player'

Halladay's legacy extends far beyond game

RIP, Doc: 'Your favorite player's favorite player'

Roy Halladay won his second Cy Young Award in 2010, and that created a little bit of a problem. He wanted to find a way to acknowledge the role his Phillies catcher, Carlos Ruiz, played in his success. And Halladay wanted to do it as quietly as possible.

So Halladay surreptitiously ordered a replica of the award, wrapped it in a plain brown box and left it at Ruiz's locker after a Grapefruit League game. The message he scrawled on top was typically understated. "To: Chooch. From: Roy."

Chooch 'truly devastated'

"Doc" Halladay, one of the most dominant and competitive pitchers of his generation -- and one of the most kind-hearted and self-effacing human beings -- died at the age of 40 on Tuesday afternoon when the ICON A5 he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast.

Tributes rolled in from across baseball for a right-hander who established himself in 12 seasons with the Blue Jays before spending the final four years of his career with the Phillies.

Baseball world mourns Halladay's passing

Commissioner Rob Manfred issued the following statement: "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."

Posnanski: Halladay was everybody's hero

The marquee outside Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night featured a picture of Halladay with his name and the simple notation: 1977-2017.

Halladay's tragic accident

"Roy Halladay was your favorite player's favorite player," Dodgers right-hander Brandon McCarthy posted on Twitter. "A true ace and a wonderful person. Heartbroken for those who knew him best."

Tributes pour in on social media

Halladay was Toronto's first-round Draft pick out of Arvada (Colo.) West High School in 1995. In his second big league start, against the Tigers in 1998, he had a no-hitter spoiled with two outs in the ninth when Bobby Higginson homered. Three years later, Halladay struggled so badly that he was sent all the way back to Class A, where pitching coach Mel Queen changed his mechanics by lowering his arm angle.

And from that point until shoulder problems caught up with him, Halladay was one of the best pitchers in baseball. In 2002, he earned the first of his eight All-Star selections. The year after that, Halladay won his first Cy Young Award after going 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA.

Halladay was a throwback who led the league in innings pitched four times and recorded 67 complete games.

Halladay went 148-76 for the Blue Jays and was a franchise icon when, at the age of 33 and looking to pitch in the postseason for the first time, he helped clear the way for a trade that sent him to the Phillies for catcher Travis d'Arnaud, right-hander Kyle Drabek and outfielder Michael Taylor.

Verducci on tragic Halladay news

Even after the trade, Halladay remained intensely popular in Canada. When the Phils played in Rogers Centre after the deal, he was received with a standing ovation. And in 2013, Halladay signed a one-day contract so he could retire as a Blue Jay.

Halladay was sensational in his first season in Philadelphia pinstripes, going 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA and winning that second Cy Young Award. And even that understates his impact. On May 29, 2010, Halladay pitched a perfect game against the Marlins. Five months later, in the National League Division Series, he threw a no-hitter against the Reds.

After that game, Halladay bought 60 Baume & Mercier watches for his teammates and members of the front office, each watch engraved with the recipient's name.

Fredi Gonzalez was the Marlins' manager then.

"He was one of those few guys that when you ran into him, whether it was in the locker room or the hallway, he always had time for helping others," Gonzalez recalled on Tuesday. "Whether it was a young pitcher on another staff or just saying 'hi' to a coach, someone's son, he had time for people. Special guy.

"When we had our young pitchers there in Florida, I said, 'Pay attention to this guy.' He never came out of the game. The competitiveness, you'd see it from across the field. It's a sad day, whether you were a teammate or an opponent. Those guys don't come around that often. Special human being."

Halladay tragically passes away

At the same time, Halladay was known for his rigorous routine.

"He treated people extremely well, but when it was time for him to do his work, stay away from him," his Phillies pitching coach, Rich Dubee, said. "But in his down time, he was a great teammate."

Halladay had credited sports psychologist Dr. Harvey Dorfman with helping his mental approach to the game, and he spent some time working with the younger Phils players.

"We are numb over the very tragic news about Roy Halladay's untimely death," the Phillies said in a statement. "There are no words to describe the sadness that the entire Phillies family is feeling over the loss of one of the most respected human beings to ever play the game. It is with the heaviest of hearts that we pass along our condolences to Brandy, Ryan and Braden."

Added Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association: "Our hearts are broken. Roy Halladay was not just one of the greatest competitors, but was also among the best men in our generation of players. Our paths crossed many times during our careers, and I can tell you he was among the toughest pitchers I ever faced.

"But while he never gave in on the mound, he was known in both leagues as an outstanding teammate, a guy who would go out of his way to help other players. Our prayers go out to his wife Brandy and their children, Ryan and Braden."

Halladay retired after the 2013 season. He could have tried to play longer, but he wanted to spend more time with his family and doing the things he loved.

Two of those were coaching his kids and flying.

Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.