Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Yankee pitcher Lidle killed in small plane crash

New York Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle was killed this morning when his small personal aircraft crashed into an Upper East Side apartment building, instantly killing the pitcher and his passenger.

Just 2 days before, Lidle had given interviews at Yankee Stadium regarding their loss to the Tigers in the ALDS, the possible firing of coach Joe Torre and the end of the season in general. He said he was looking forward to making this cross-country flight to his California home and was known to be an aviation buff who just received his pilot's license this year.

Lidle played with 7 teams during his 9 year playing career, including the D-Rays and 2 current playoff teams, Oakland & the Mets. He was acquired by New York in the deal that brought Bobby Abreu to the Yanks before the trading deadline. Although Abreu was the big name in the deal, many experts said the pickup of Lidle was a valuable move as well. Players, fans and personnel all over baseball were stunned and saddened by the news, as I was when I finally found out what happened. At first I heard while I was at work that a plane had crashed into a building in New York- GULP. Then I heard that it was a small plane accident, not a terrorist attack-WHEW. But later at my son's Little League game when I learned what really happened I almost fell on the ground.

Events like this occur rarely in professional sports, but when they do they pack an emotional wallop that hits everyone hard, not just sports fans. The sports fans think "oh my god, I can't believe that happened to so & so, I just watched him play..." and the non-sports fans say "if this can happen to a celebrity/athlete, it can happen to me or someone I love"- it resonates with everyone. Other tragic events similar to this include the deaths of Yankee catcher Thurman Munson, Pirates star Roberto Clemente, golfer Payne Stewart and John Kennedy Jr.
But nothing can prepare anyone for this kind of tragedy. This excellent piece by's Jayson Stark, about the eerie coincidences regarding Lidle's death, and also this incredibly sad piece relating how his father & family learned of the tragedy capture the emotions and shock waves of this event.

is survived by his wife and 6-year old son.

And suddenly the playoffs, and sports in general, seem so very unimportant.

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