NEW YORK — A celebration of life for former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay will be held next week in Florida at the spring-training home of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Halladay was killed Tuesday when the tiny sport plane he was flying crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. The service, which will be open to the public, will be held Tuesday afternoon at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, the Halladay family said in a statement released by the Blue Jays and Major League Baseball.
"Our family is heartbroken in confirming that Roy passed away in a plane crash Tuesday afternoon," the statement said. "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."
Halladay, who was 40, was a devoted husband to wife Brandy and a loving father to sons Ryan and Braden.
Halladay made his big-league debut with the Blue Jays in 1998 and won the American League Cy Young Award in 2003. He hit the 20-win plateau on three occasions and won the 2010 NL Cy Young Award with the Phillies.
He spent four seasons in Philadelphia before retiring in late 2013.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash of Halladay's Icon A5. A preliminary report is expected in the next week and the full investigation could take up to two years.
"Roy grew up with a passion for planes and always had the goal of becoming a pilot," said the family statement, released late Thursday afternoon. "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."
Halladay had been the proud owner for less than a month of his Icon A5, and was among the first to fly the model. In one of many enthusiastic tweets about the plane, Halladay said it felt "like flying a fighter jet."
"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," the family statement said. "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."
Halladay was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year. He had a career mark of 203-105 and a 3.38 earned-run average.
With files from The Associated Press.
The Canadian Press