Tampa Bay area parents have heavy hearts over passing of baseball great

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – He was known to the nation as one of the greatest pitchers in the game of baseball. Roy Halladay was also known for his success off the field in the positions he considered the most important – dad, husband and role model.

His sudden passing is sending shockwaves through the community, especially to Tampa Bay area parents who knew Halladay through a traveling baseball league where they coached children side-by-side.

“It’s a shocker. When I heard it on the news, I thought, ‘no way, it can’t be him,'” one Clearwater dad told us.

For Kevin Jens, the loss feels personal. From one father to another, Jens knew the star pitcher as they were both involved with their sons in the league. It was here that Roy Halladay was famous, not for his MLB stardom, but rather for being a father, cherishing time with his children and being a role model to other kids.

“Just a real down-to-earth guy, you don’t get to see those guys very often. It’s a sad day in this area because he was great for our community,” said Jens.

The 40-year-old loved volunteering in Tampa Bay, especially helping law enforcement at the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. During an emotional press conference Tuesday, Sheriff Chris Nocco talked about his friendship with the pitcher.

“He was one in a million. It is a true loss for us,” said the sheriff.

Halladay often volunteered with Pasco County, doing everything from donating funds, to purchasing a K9, to charity fishing tournaments.

They were causes near and dear to his heart, where he gave his time quietly and without fanfare.

“You wouldn’t know what Roy did and less he told you what he did, and that’s the legacy of a great man,” said Sheriff Nocco.

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