Former Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay has been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Halladay, who died in a plane crash on Nov. 7, 2017 at age 40, will be inducted into the national baseball shrine in Cooperstown, N.Y., this July along with Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina.
Halladay, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, received 85.4 per cent of the vote by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on his first year on the ballot. Eligible players need at least 75 per cent to be inducted.
Maple Ridge, B.C., native Larry Walker, a former National League MVP with the Colorado Rockies, received 54.6 per cent in the results announced Tuesday night. It was a significant jump from the 34.1 per cent Walker received in 2018.
Rivera become baseball’s first unanimous Hall of Fame selection, receiving all 425 votes in balloting. The quartet will be enshrined in Cooperstown along with Today’s Game Era Committee selections Harold Baines and Lee Smith on July 21.
Ken Griffey Jr. held the previous mark for top percentage at 99.32 when he was on 437 of 440 ballots two years ago.
Halladay spent 12 seasons with the Blue Jays from 1998-2009, pitching more than 2,000 innings and winning the American League Cy Young in 2003.
He represented Toronto at six all-star games — he appeared in eight overall — had three 20-win seasons and five with 200 or more strikeouts, and earned the NL Cy Young with the Phillies in 2010 in his first season in Philadelphia.
The towering right-hander signed a one-day contract with Toronto in December 2013 to retire as a Blue Jay.
Toronto retired Halladay’s No. 32 on opening day of the 2018 season, four months after he died when the small sport plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.
"Of the countless players that have worn the Blue Jays uniform, few have done so with the determination and elegance of Roy Halladay," Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said in a release. "Today is a bittersweet day for our community and organization, as we remember a beloved pitcher, teammate, and family man, but we can take comfort in the boundless impact Roy had on Canadian fans nationwide and the game of baseball.
"On behalf of the Toronto Blue Jays organization and all of our fans, we congratulate Brandy, Braden, Ryan, and the entire Halladay family on this monumental honour."
Halladay amassed a 203-105 record and a 3.38 earned-run average and 2,117 strikeouts over 416 regular-season major league games and was 3-2 with a 2.37 ERA through five post-season starts, all with Philadelphia.
He became just the second pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter in the post-season, opening the 2010 National League Division Series with one against the Cincinnati Reds in the first playoff start of his career.
Halladay also threw a perfect game for Philadelphia earlier that season against the Miami Marlins.
Halladay led his league in complete games seven times, strikeout-to-walk ratio five times, shutouts four times, innings pitched four times and victories twice.
Toronto selected Halladay 17th overall in the 1995 draft. The Denver native remained in the Blue Jays organization until he was traded to Philadelphia ahead of the 2010 season.
Halladay stayed involved in baseball following his retirement, helping coach his son Braden’s former high school team in Clearwater, Fla., to a state championship in the final year of his life. Braden, now a freshman at Penn State, is also a pitcher.
Halladay also spent time working with young pitchers in the Blue Jays and Phillies organizations during spring trainings, which Toronto right-hander Aaron Sanchez called "something I’ll be forever grateful for."
"There’s no doubt he should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer," the 26-year-old right-hander said last weekend in Toronto. "His resume speaks for itself, I don’t think I really need to touch on that. As a person I think he’s way beyond Hall of Fame."
Canadian right-hander Scott Mathieson, who spent some time with Halladay in Philadelphia, recalled Halladay’s unmatched work ethic and preparedness.
"I’ve never met someone who worked as hard as he did. There’s nobody that even came close," the Vancouver native said in a phone interview this week. "They had to give him a key to the facility because he was beating the grounds crew and the maintenance people to the field.
"I remember sitting through some of the pitchers’ meetings and talking to him one on one about different hitters. He was such a student of the game. I felt embarrassed sometimes because he was so much more prepared than everyone and when I talked to him it felt I really had to do my homework because it was like going up to a professor."
Should Halladay be inducted into the Hall of Fame with a Blue Jays cap, he’d be just the second player to do so and first since Roberto Alomar in 2011.
Alomar’s tenure with Toronto didn’t overlap with Halladay’s, but that didn’t stop him from admiring the pitcher from the other side of the diamond.
"He was fearless, he was a great pitcher, he liked to compete and I wish I would’ve played with him instead of playing against him because he was really tough to hit," Alomar said.
"He’s not here with us in person but it’s going to be an honour to see his name … being inducted into the Hall of Fame."
With files from The Associated Press