Doc.

This is the hardest post I’ve had to write since we started Fan Interference, and I hope you all will forgive me if it’s short or doesn’t make much sense.

But we’ve lost a great man today.

Harry Leroy Halladay II, known as Doc to many, and Roy to most, died today when the plane he was piloting crashed in the Gulf of Mexico outside of Pasco County, Florida. He was 40 years old.

Roy Halladay was a hero to me. Those who know me well know that there are not many people in this world that I respect and love more than Doc. So this hurts. This hits hard. I have been crying for hours now and I’m crying now. It doesn’t feel real.

halladaysmileDoc was my Sandy Koufax. I mean, everyone knows that I love Greg Maddux, he is my favorite player of all time and the finest pitcher I’ve ever seen, but man. Roy Halladay was special. He was tough as nails and cold as ice, and he made everything look easy.  Postseason no hitter? Easy. Perfect game? Easy. Complete games in less time than your average Disney movie? Easy. That was Doc. He only played for roughly fifteen years and his body failed him, but think back. Think about Roy Halladay. What do you think of? I know what I thought of – when he signed with the Phillies I was like, “Well, great. The Braves will never win another game against Philadelphia because Doc will be there and he won’t lose, ever.”

While some might think that his path to baseball immortality would have been tough, I have always thought that Doc was a shoo-in. He was the most feared pitcher of his time, and accomplished things that to this day still give me chills. That postseason no-no, for example.

But mostly, he was a good man, a caring father, a loving husband, someone who truly loved the fans and the game and his teammates.

We all lost a special person today. I don’t want to say goodbye. I love you, Doc.

[Edited to fix Roy’s career timeline and to add a photo that didn’t post originally.]

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17 thoughts on “Doc.

  1. Yes, that really broke my heart. I’m a “retired” private pilot myself who got pushed out of the cockpit a few years ago by cataracts and floaters but earlier on I did put in a few dozen hours in a Lake Renegade, the aluminum forerunner of Halliday’s composite amphibian, so I can relate to his love of flying and his dream of owning an A5. I read that his plane was found upside down in the ocean not far from the coastline, which leads me to think he flipped it trying to land or perform some practice touch-and-goes in the water. It doesn’t sound like he’d had it very long and amphibians are tricky to learn how to land in agitated water. What a loss. My heart goes out to his family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While he had been taking test flights for a while in the A5, if I’m not mistaken you must log several hundred hours in an amphi to be relatively decent. My ex is an aviation nerd and a private pilot himself, and he said he was curious what might have led to a water crash with this type of plane. It goes to show that even very qualified pilots – Roy was definitely one – can have problems with a plane. But we shall see what occurs when the accident report is released.

      Anyway, thank you for sharing your thoughts, OG. I remember how upset you were when we lost El Keed. I never thought a year later I’d be feeling this way about one of my personal heroes.

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      • Well here’s the thing. You can have thousands of hours in fixed-wing, land-based aircraft but the demands of “reading the water” are a whole new wrinkle on the skills needed to take off from and land on it. I had 3000 left seat hours in land based planes, more than half in high-performance planes like Saratogas, Malibus and Cheyennes, but in the roughly fourteen hours of practice landings and takeoffs in that Lake Renegade (which was a larger and heavier plane than Halliday’s despite the apparent resemblance and so was less susceptible to quirks of the water’s surface) I really felt like I was starting from scratch. I don’t know if the A5 had the “backwards” overhead throttle of the Lake but that’s somewhat akin to taking a vacation in England, picking up your rental car at the airport and suddenly finding yourself sitting in the right seat and driving on the wrong side of the road. If you try to land or take off in a crosswind and your wingtip dips even a little bit, and you happen to be riding a swell at that moment, you can cartwheel the airplane and that’s all she wrote.

        My guess is that Halliday was overreaching given his limited experience in an amphibian. It’s such an old story I can’t even stand to think about it. Thurman Munson killed himself practicing landings in a Cessna Citation, whose jet engines take about half again as long to “spool” or respond as a piston engined plane. He just didn’t give himself enough power to reach the runway and by the time he realized it, it was too late to put power in and pull up. A jet doesn’t glide like a prop plane. I’m sorry to say that it sounds to me like Halliday confused the kinesthetic “feedback” you get from a conventional airplane with what his A5 was telling him. Israeli fighter pilots never even train in a piston engined plane for this reason; they learn from Day 1 how to handle their jets and never have any basis for confusing what their plane is doing with what the piston powered plane they got used to might have done. Breaks my heart.

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  2. Ok, this is dumb, but I lived alone for thirteen years and never dated but in the last year have been in a relationship. When I saw the news about Roy, I thought: I don’t want to lose my fiance when our life together just started. So, I guess I’m making him a bubblewrap coat for christmas.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. It’s funny how baseball does this to us. We really don’t know the person at all. But we watch them daily (every five days if they are a pitcher) and we get a feeling for who they are, how they react, what their talents are. If they stay with a team for a while, we get a back story on them and start to incorporate feelings about them into our lives, as if they were a well known friend.
    And so, when a life crises happens to them, we feel a little bit of the joy or pain in our own lives. So my wife and I were joyful for Correa when he did that hokey proposal after the WS. So when a Thurman Munson or a Doc Halliday dies in a crash we feel real and profound grief. We knew them, if not in the most direct of ways, and we are hurt by their passing.
    I thought one of the more insightful moments of Bull Durham was the shrine to Munson. I could totally buy into the emotions behind that gesture.
    And I think it relates back to the fact that baseball is a daily part of our lives for over six months of the year. We get into the rhythm of it just like our real lives, and the joys and pains are incorporated into our lives.
    R.I.P. Doc. You were a great one. And you passed too soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. In July 2014 I took my son’s travel team to Myrtle Beach to play in a Ripken tournament. Each team that week got a team photo with Doc and even though it was a tight schedule he he took the time to speak to the boys and shake hands with each of them. I’m sure he got an appearance fee for being there but I got the feeling that he was doing it for the love of the game and to encourage the next generation of players. Sad news.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was talking with a good friend of mine last night and we were both lamenting the loss, and he pointed out it was crazy that a lifetime Yankees fan and Orioles fan was so upset over the loss of a guy who absolutely murdered us year in and year out. The quote that really stood out on MLB.com for me was “He was the guy your heroes looked up to as a hero.” That’s really something there. Such a shame we lose the best of us, and all we can do now is honor his memory and live in his example.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. Brandon McCarthy said that, too, as did many other players and former players.

      Cole Hamels did a press conference last night. I didn’t know this but that Phillies pitching staff, all 5 starters and their families, vacationed together frequently. I guess a few years ago they went to Australia.

      Baseball is a family.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Normally I’m able to write something of meaning, but I find I am unable to. It’s so stupid. I didn’t know him, he never played for my team, he was only a few years older than me, but he looms large in my life as a man of great esteem. This was one of the saddest moments of my baseball life.

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