One year ago today, former Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay died in a plane crash off the coast of St. Petersburg, Fla. He was 40.
The shocking death of one of the team's most beloved aces prompted an outpouring of grief across baseball.
"Roy Halladay was your favorite player's favorite player," veteran pitcher Brandon McCarthy said at the time.
A week later, 2,000 people gathered at the Phillies' spring-training home in Clearwater, Fla., to celebrate the life of a man who was the greatest pitcher of a generation.
Chase Utley spoke to Halladay's wife, Brandy, and his sons Braden and Ryan.
"Your dad was the best teammate I ever played with," Utley told the boys. "The most fierce competitor I have ever seen. I'm sure all your lives you've heard people praise your dad and tell you how proud they were of him. But in the conversations I had with him, he was more proud of what you guys have accomplished than what he ever accomplished on the field. Brandy, Braden and Ryan: Thank you for sharing him with us."
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Roughly 24 hours before Halladay died, he was in Clearwater leading a presentation for Phillies minor leaguers. This was part of Halladay's gig with his former team — he helped mentor young players and gave them advice to navigate the path to the big leagues, focusing more on how to prepare your mind than how to prepare your fastball.
"I was pretty star-struck at first," Luke Leftwich, a pitcher who finished this season in double-A Reading, told Matt Breen last November. "But he was just so easy to talk to. He's one of the greatest pitchers ever, and he was just such a normal guy. It was really easy to want to talk to him."
"It was incredible. I walked in and I was like, 'That's actually you, Roy Halladay.' I'm not going to lie — I was nervous," said third baseman Luke Williams, who spent this season with Class A Clearwater. "It's a conversation I'll never forget. I learned so much from him about preparing to be great."
In the 12 months since Halladay's passing, what kind of legacy has he left?
During spring training, Mike Sielski told the story of Chris Nocco, the Pasco County sheriff who had to tell the world that Halladay had died.
Minutes before Nocco stepped up to the microphone at a news conference, he called his parents back home in Northeast Philly. Nocco graduated from Archbishop Ryan, followed his father's footsteps into a career in law enforcement, and still has a tinge of the accent that indicates where he calls home. He's also a huge Phillies fan; he grew up a fan of Mike Schmidt, Juan Samuel, and Milt Thompson in the '80s.
After retiring from MLB, Halladay got to work coaching his kids in the sport he loved. He was an assistant for the Calvary Christian High School baseball team in Clearwater — the same team his son Braden pitched for.
In June, a former pupil was drafted by the Phillies. Matheu Nelson, who caught Braden at Calvary Christian, was nearly guaranteed to turn down the Phils' offer to play baseball at Florida State. But when they picked Nelson in the 39th round of the 2018 draft, they gave Nelson a little way to honor his mentor.
And in December, Braden, now a senior, declared he'd carry on the family legacy: he's committed to play baseball for Penn State next year.
Also in June, the Phillies promoted lefthander Austin Davis to the majors. He became the first of Halladay's former pupils to make it to the big leagues. He stayed with the team for 32 games, pitching 34 2/3 innings in relief.
Halladay's impact on Davis was vital to the 25-year-old's improvement.
"I've been thinking about him a lot the last few days," Davis told Breen right after joining the Phillies. "When I got the call, I started to think about how cool it's going to be to come in here and see where he did his work. That's special.
And in August, Halladay became just the fourth person in franchise history to join the Phillies Wall of Fame without a fan vote.
Brandy, Braden and Ryan joined Pat Gillick, Charlie Manuel and Carlos Ruiz at Citizens Bank Park to celebrate the honor. Brandy reflected on what it meant for Halladay to be working so closely with the next generation of Phillies pitchers.
"That was really something that he needed. He really needed to feel that he was making a difference on the people around him," Brandy Halladay said. " … When these young kids are there and are struggling and need a mentor and need somebody, he had the answers. I think it shocked him, too. But he had such a huge sense of pride. It gave him that extra something he needed when he retired to still feel he was pertinent in baseball and that he was still making a difference."