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You’re going to hear this a lot as people talk about Roy Halladay the next few days and how he wasn’t just a great baseball player, he was a great person too. That’s the consensus — from ex-teammates, from the writers who covered him, from the people who knew him.
Roy Halladay was easy to love. That’s what made him so endearing during his 16-year MLB career, which will probably culminate in Cooperstown in a couple of years.
On Tuesday, though, it took a tragic turn: Halladay, 40, died in a plane crash off the coast of Florida. He leaves behind a wife and two sons and plenty of people who held him in high esteem. Again, it wasn’t just because of his play on the field, but because of the glimpses of the man we saw away from it too.
So here are five moments that made us love Halladay, the man and the pitcher:
1. THE PLAYOFF NO-HITTER
Only two pitchers have thrown a no-hitter in the postseason. Two! That’s some elite company. One was Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series and the other was Halladay in the 2010 NLDS. It was his first postseason appearance and the Cincinnati Reds had to wish he’d stayed out of the playoffs. Halladay threw 108 pitches, struck out eight, walked one and put himself in the history books forever.
2. THE PERFECT GAME
The 2010 no-hitter was actually the second of that season for Halladay. He threw a perfect game in May 29 for the Phillies against the then-Florida Marlins, striking out 11 hitters. His was the 20th perfect game in MLB history. Throwing two no-hitters in one season also made Halladay the fifth player in history to do that. Max Scherzer has since become the sixth.
3. THE 10-INNING, 98-PITCH SHUTOUT
After the MLB postseason we just saw, this seems like a completely foreign idea, but Halladay once pitched a 10-inning shutout in which he tossed 98 pitches. None of those things seem to go together in 2017, but this is Halladay we’re talking about and he had a knack for the amazing. It was Sept. 6, 2003 and the Blue Jays beat the Tigers 1-0 in extra innings. Halladay allowed three hits over 10 innings. He was a machine — known for going late into games. Perhaps most amazing? The game took just two hours and three minutes.
4. HALLADAY, THE FUNNY GUY
When you think about Halladay away from baseball, many people will think of his family. He was devoted to them. He coached baseball for both his sons, Braden and Ryan. He loved his wife, Brandy. In retirement, we saw another side of Halladay on Twitter. He was pretty funny. He was nice. He seemed genuine. This is one of our favorite examples:
Oopps you missed me! Walked right by me! Hope he gets to see his pic with me on Twitter, he doesn't know we took this pic.twitter.com/CHgFlVfafm
— Roy Halladay (@RoyHalladay) January 11, 2015
5. THE TRIP BACK FROM THE MINORS TO THE CY YOUNG
If you just saw the end of Halladay’s career, when he was an established star and one of the best pitchers of his generation, then you might not know this part: His early career with the Blue Jays was rough at times. In 2000, he had a 10.64 ERA. That prompted the Blue Jays to send him down to Single-A when he was 23.
According to a great 2010 Sports Illustrated article by Tom Verducci, Halladay called his dad at the time and said: “Dad, I’ll work as hard as it takes to get back up.”
Little did he know at the time that within three years, he’d win his first Cy Young award. Halladay got better each year after that trip to Single-A, but it really came together in 2003 when he went 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA over 266 innings.
It’s one thing to be great in sports. It’s another thing to fail and let everyone watch you become great. That made everyone love Roy Halladay a little bit more.
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More Roy Halladay coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Baseball world reacts to Halladay’s tragic death
• Sports world rocked again by plane crash death
• 5 moments that made us love Roy Halladay
• Halladay’s plane, the ICON A5, was a ‘Jet Ski with wings’