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RIP: Roy Halladay, 40, dies in plane crash in Gulf of Mexico

Roy Halladay, a two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher who retired from baseball nearly four years ago, died when his plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday. He was 40. Halladay’s ICON A5, a small, single-engine aircraft, went down around noon Tuesday off the coast of Florida, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a news conference. The sheriff’s office marine unit responded and found Halladay’s body in shallow water near some mangroves. No survivors were found. Police said they couldn’t confirm if there were additional passengers on the plane or where it was headed.

Nocco said the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. “All of us at Baseball are shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic passing of former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “A well-respected figure throughout the game, Roy was a fierce competitor during his 16-year career, which included eight All-Star selections, two Cy Young Awards, a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter.

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“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, including his wife, Brandy, and two sons, Ryan and Braden, his friends and countless fans, as well as the Blue Jays and Phillies organizations.” Halladay received his pilot’s license several years ago and tweeted photos last month of himself standing next to a new ICON A5 as part of the plane’s marketing campaign.

In a story posted last month on ICON’s website to promote the A5, Halladay said he had “been dreaming about flying since I was a boy but was only able to become a pilot once I retired from baseball.” In a video posted on ICON’s website, Halladay said the terms of his baseball contract prevented him from having a pilot’s license while playing and that his wife was originally against the idea of him getting the aircraft.

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Here are a few of the most notable plane crash deaths involving athletes:

Knute Rockne (March 31, 1931) — The legendary Notre Dame football coach and seven others died after his plane crashed into a wheat field in Kansas. Rockne was only 43 and had been heading to California to participate in the filming of a movie entitled “The Spirit of Notre Dame.”

Ken Hubbs (Feb 15. 1964) — The Chicago Cubs second baseman won NL rookie of the year in 1962. He was killed just over a year later at age 22 after the plane he was piloting crashed in Utah. It was said that Hubbs was trying to overcome a fear of flying by taking flying lessons.

Rocky Marciano (Aug. 31, 1969) — The former heavyweight champion and two others were killed in Newton, Iowa after their Cessna hit a tree two miles short of the runway.  The NTSB concluded the pilot’s inexperience was a factor. Marciano would’ve turned 46 the next day.

Roberto Clemente (Dec. 31, 1972) —  The Pittsburgh Pirates star and future Hall of Famer was bringing aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua when his plane went down into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of his native Puerto Rico. He was 38 years old.

Thurman Munson (Aug. 2, 1979) — The catcher and soul of the late ’70s Yankee dynasty was killed after practicing landing his Cessna plane on an offday in Ohio. He was a perennial All-Star and won the AL MVP in 1976.

Alan Kulwicki (April 1, 1993) — Kulwicki was the reigning Winston Cup champion when his plane went down in Tennessee the week of the race in Bristol. He was 39.

Brook Berringer (April 18, 1996) — The Nebraska quarterback died at 22 when the plane he was piloting crashed in Raymond, Nebraska. Berringer was a NFL prospect and died just two days before the draft.

Rodney Culver (May 11, 1996) — The former Notre Dame running back and his wife Karen were among the 110 people who died when ValuJet Flight 592 crashed into the Florida Everglades. Culver, who played for the Colts and Chargers over four NFL season, was only 26 and left two young daughters behind.

Payne Stewart (Oct. 25, 1999) —  Stewart and five others were killed after the cabin of his Learjet lost pressure, sending the plane off course to South Dakota. Stewart, 42, was coming off a 1999 season that couldn’t have gone much better. Not only did he win the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, but he was also part of the 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup team that famously rallied to win at Brookline.

Cory Lidle (Oct. 11, 2006) — The Yankees pitcher was only 34 when he crashed his personal plane into an apartment building in New York City just days after the Yankees were eliminated from the ALDS. Halladay and Lidle were teammates on the Blue Jays.

Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972.