BROSSARD - News of former major league pitcher Roy Halladay's tragic passing in a plane crash at age 40 on Tuesday hit Brendan Gallagher particularly hard.
As a lifelong Blue Jays fan, the 25-year-old right-winger paid close attention to Halladay's every move when he took the mound for Toronto and mowed down hitter after hitter, season after season with some of the wickedest stuff around.
"I really enjoyed watching him compete and watching him pitch," said Gallagher, who was shocked to learn about Halladay's passing while making his way to the Bell Centre ahead of the matchup with the Golden Knights. "Being a baseball fan growing up, and the Blue Jays being my favorite team, he was the best player on my favorite team and any time he was pitching, you made sure the TV was on and you were watching."
Gallagher's memories of the eight-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner during his playing days are still as fresh as ever.
"I remember how often he pitched nine innings and pitched complete games. I just remember how he battled. He was exciting to watch. When he went to Philly, obviously I remember the perfect game and the no-hitter in the playoffs. He had an unbelievable career," said Gallagher, who played his fair share of baseball growing up. "On the mound, no one competed as hard as he did."
That quality endeared Halladay to Gallagher from the start.
"When I was a young kid watching baseball, he was the reason I would turn on the TV. The Jays weren't that great at the time, but I think he was the best player in the league for a couple of years," said Gallagher, who never had the chance to meet one of his baseball idols, but did see him pitch live down in Toronto. "Night in and night out when he was on the mound, you knew that the Jays had a chance to win and he was going to compete and battle. I always enjoyed watching that as a kid."
When he wasn't plying his trade, Halladay's direct impact on those around him also caught Gallagher's attention.
"What he did off the field, how many players stood up and mentioned how he went out of his way to help them, the difference he made away from the mound. I think that was the impact that he had," said Gallagher. "He helped so many teammates become better players and better people. That's the legacy that he's going to leave, along with being one of the best pitchers the game has ever seen."
Video: Brendan Gallagher shares memories of Roy Halladay
A licensed pilot, Halladay's plane went down in the Gulf of Mexico, 10 miles west of St. Petersburg, FL. He leaves behind his wife, Brandy, and two sons, Ryan and Braden.
"Everything you hear about him, he just seemed like such a nice guy to be around, a caring guy," said Gallagher. "I think losing him that young, it's tough to take."