Halladay dies in plane crash

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B.A.S.S. photo
Roy Halladay, Dave Mercer and Skeet Reese take a selfie during the 2014 Delaware River Elite.

Major League pitcher Roy Halladay, an avid angler and friend of B.A.S.S. who formed a close personal relationship with Elite pro Skeet Reese, died Tuesday when the plane he was flying crashed in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast. He was 40.

Halladay, a two-time Cy Young winner who played 16 years in Toronto and Philadelphia, had taken a number of fishing trips together with Reese, the first a gift from the Phillies. (Reese was believed to be in Mexico and could not be reached). Halladay pitched the majors’ 20th perfect game in 2010 – he threw a no-hitter that year in the postseason – and the team contacted Reese to take the avid angler out after the season.

“I don’t know how they got him, but Skeet was the reigning Toyota Angler of the Year, and after that they became really good buddies,” said Bassmaster emcee Dave Mercer, who crossed paths with Halladay a number of times, starting in Canada. “I kind of knew Doc from Toronto, where he pitched most of his career. He was the highlight of the Blue Jays for a lot of dark, dark years. He was the only reason to watch.”

Mercer, host of the popular Canadian show Facts of Fishing, said Halladay was a regular on the fishing scene. They actually first met at a Bass Pro Shops where both were doing promotions side by side and signing autographs for fans.

“It’s just so sad to hear about the passing of this amazing man. He was a friend to anyone lucky enough to meet him,” Mercer said. “Just a great guy. Honestly, he was just that really unassuming. If not for the fact that he was 6-foot-6, you wouldn’t know he was a professional athlete.”

Mercer mentioned the story of the 2014 Bassmaster Elite event in Philadelphia on the Delaware River. Halladay, who had retired in 2013, accompanied Reese through the bag line each day, and Mercer kept trying to get him to come out for the crowd.

“I gave him trouble for not coming out on stage,” Mercer said. “It took a bunch of texts between Skeet and me trash talking him before he finally came out on the final day.”