Former MLB star Roy Halladay killed in plane crash

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roy Halladay was killed Tuesday when a small plane he was piloting crashed in the Gulf of Mexico off the west coast of Florida. He was 40 years old.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said Halladay was the only person on board the ICON A5 when it went down in shallow water at around noon near Holiday, Fla.

"He loved to fly," Sheriff Chris Nocco said of Halladay, an eight-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner. "He talked about his family, baseball and flying."

Footage from news helicopters showed the plane upside down in the water. The sheriff's office said its marine unit would recover the wreckage over the next few hours.

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Rescue boats surround the wreckage of the plane Halladay was flying Tuesday.  (Fox 13 Tampa)

Halladay pitched for 16 years in the major leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies before retiring following the 2013 season.

"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."

Current and former players responded with an outporing of emotion on social media. Vernon Wells, a former Blue Jays teammate, called Halladay "one of the best to ever do it."

Halladay won the Cy Young Award twice, once in 2003 with the Blue Jays and again in 2010 with the Phillies. Only five other pitchers have won the award in both the American and National Leagues, and three of those – Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Gaylord Perry – are in the Baseball Hall of Fame

In an era where starting pitchers who went deep into games became less and less frequent, Halladay threw 67 career complete games and was the active leader in that category when he retired.