This is Roy Halladay’s last tweet.
I love the Players & Parents of our Florida Burn! They keep proving why they’re the best team on the field but more important the classiest! pic.twitter.com/4agAeCO4wY— Roy Halladay (@RoyHalladay) November 6, 2017
Halladay passed away on Tuesday when a plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a tragedy, and it’s heartbreaking to anybody who witnessed his sensational baseball career. His dominance from 2001 to 2011 is almost impossible to top. His 2010 National League Division Series no-hitter is a sports moment that transcends baseball itself.
I can’t stop looking at Halladay’s Twitter, though. The tweet above seems so pure: Halladay, with a baseball cap and a huge smile; the trophy, showing that this must have been a special moment — the kids, happy and carefree.
Halladay’s Twitter has dozens of these moments throughout his Twitter, like this one with his team and their championship rings.
Florida Burn North 12u will have open tryouts Saturday Jan. 28th from 4-6pm at Ross Norton complex in Clearwater, FL pic.twitter.com/LFx5vnCvYd— Roy Halladay (@RoyHalladay) January 27, 2017
And this photo of his son’s high school baseball team.
Social media can be imperfect, even dangerous, and we learn that more and more every day. Even individually, it typically offers only a cultivated slice of one person’s life. Halladay tweeted just 450 times — there are 24,000 YouTube results about him, and 468,000 Google hits. I’m not foolish enough to suggest that his Twitter was anything but a tiny reflection of who he was as a person.
So many of those YouTube hits are highlight videos, though, and most of those Google results worry about Halladay the baseball player. On the field, Halladay was an intense figure. His workouts were intense, says one website. Roy Halladay is very angry, declares another. "Whatever he does, he's very intense,” his own father said in a profile.
The tiny glimpse that Twitter displays is totally unlike the Halladay that we saw on a baseball field. It has amazing moments like this.
Oopps you missed me! Walked right by me! Hope he gets to see his pic with me on Twitter, he doesn't know we took this pic.twitter.com/CHgFlVfafm— Roy Halladay (@RoyHalladay) January 11, 2015
And optimistic advice:
Life is all about perspective and how you choose to see things and your attitude toward them! Broke down on the Hwy or a day at the beach? pic.twitter.com/J4ifpTbXPv— Roy Halladay (@RoyHalladay) September 22, 2017
And surprising skills:
Did I mention I can juggle while I ride a unicycle? Second career with the circus! pic.twitter.com/hZBDWjsLco— Roy Halladay (@RoyHalladay) April 30, 2015
It’s all so contradictory from the stares and the furled brow that Halladay displayed on the mound, where every pitch seemed to carry the weight of the world. That’s what most people were exposed to when they watched him, not this fellow who’s photobombing a shirsey-wearing fan.
Halladay didn’t tweet this following photo, but I feel like it belongs here, too.
I'm at the zoo with Roy Halladay?! pic.twitter.com/5453vwPKvo— Zoo With Roy (@zoowithroy) August 8, 2014
That’s Halladay — and a penguin!?! — on the right, and a man who started a small, independent Philadelphia Phillies blog called Zoo With Roy on the left. Before he retired, Halladay found him and lived out the blog’s name. Name another professional athlete in any sport who has ever done something like that. It has to be a short, short list.
The people who know Halladay best — the people who matter most in this situation — know about the guy who we see in all of these social media posts. We might not, though. We could still marvel at the way he made his pitches dance. We would never forget that unforgettable no-hitter. We might marvel at his intensity, and speculate how that fueled him into becoming the pitcher that he was. We could hear stories about him off the field, but none would be so accessible as this.
His Twitter account has turned into an online memorial service, and I think it’s OK to find that both wonderful and strange. The concept of death and social media is one we’re all still trying to understand, like a real life Black Mirror episode. It’s also chilling to scroll through his feed and see him express his love for flying. This is the plane that Halladay was flying when he died. Just a month ago, he was expressing his newfound love for it. He didn’t know. Of course he didn’t.
At least we know that he really loved this, and I think that matters.
What do clouds feel like? I didn’t know either until I got my new Icon A5! I’m getting bruises on my arms from constantly pinching myself! pic.twitter.com/BaObEUj3Xo— Roy Halladay (@RoyHalladay) October 13, 2017
Roy Halladay wasn’t his Twitter, and he isn’t defined by it. There’s more than flying videos and baseball team selfies. We might have even debated one or two of them, like a PEDs opinion that lacked nuance, but that makes it more real. Halladay’s Twitter turned a slice of his life into an unintentional memorial service, and a damn good one at that.