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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Munson and Lidle
2006-10-11 15:08
by Jon Weisman

In 1979, I was at sleepaway camp in Colorado when word filtered in (and of course in those days, it wasn't like any of us was hooked into the news the way you could be as an 11-year-old today) that Thurman Munson had died in a plane crash.

It wasn't the first time in my life a contemporary athlete had died, but it was still unfathomable. Munson, of course, had been a member of the Yankee teams that defeated the Dodgers two years in a row in the World Series (1977-78). So I was no fan of his, but I knew what a player he was. It was dusk when we heard, and I remember there was this kid from New York at camp, his name was something like Vinny Schicchi, and he was just beside himself.

Last month, I read Tyler Kepner's New York Times article that is now recirculating around the Internet about the fear surrounding Cory Lidle, the Yankee pitcher and precocious pilot, who we now know perished in a plane crash today. For the crash to be into a building, for the crash to involve a Yankee ... I'm not sure there are words to describe the feeling. I can only imagine the memories the tragedy pulls up.

My heart goes out to Lidle's family, and to everyone in the city and in baseball who felt the blow.

More at Bronx Banter. Update: Here too.

Comments (67)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-10-11 15:15:45
1.   D4P
With all the flying they do, I'm a little surprised there has never been (to my knowledge) a major plane accident involving an entire sports team.
2006-10-11 15:19:19
2.   Jon Weisman
Marshall football, for one.

See the list here:

2006-10-11 15:22:29
3.   Eric L
Oklahoma State did lose a couple of basketball players (and 8 other folks associated with the program) back in 2001. That's about the closest thing I can recall recently.

The bus crash that injured Buck Rogers with the Angels is the only other major sports crash I can think of regarding an entire sports team.

2006-10-11 15:32:06
4.   adraymond
It's happened a few other times.
2006-10-11 15:35:21
5.   godvls
Internationally, the most famous team plane crash had to be Manchester United in 1958 when seven or eight members of the famed "Busby Babes" team died.
2006-10-11 15:40:12
6.   xaphor
1. When I first heard of Lidle's accident my first thought was of the Munich Air Disaster which took the lives of seven Manchester United football players back in 1958. My condolences to the Lidle family.

2006-10-11 15:44:18
7.   bhsportsguy
In a biography that is better than you might think, "Mr. Clutch", the story about Jerry West, he tells about one of their plane flights in the mid-sixties where they thought they were going down. Elgin Baylor was a notorious bad flier but West mixes humor along with the anxiety of the moment.

The biography ends a season or two before the Lakers won their only championship with West as a player. Being such a private person, it is doubtful we will ever get a followup about the last 35 years or so where he may have come close to equaling his playing career with his NBA executive career.

2006-10-11 15:46:11
8.   bhsportsguy
Munson's death to me seem to end all the madness around those Yankee teams certainly as far as championships they did not win another until 1996.
2006-10-11 15:55:19
9.   xaphor
1. And then of course there was the amateur rugby team that crashed in the Andes whose miraculous survival was turned into the film Alive.

It is always heart aching when those we depend on to bring levity to our daily lives are taken from us without warning. Brings in to perspective how trivial where A-Rod might be playing third base next year truly is.

2006-10-11 16:03:59
10.   Xeifrank
Looks like the Cardinals-Mets game has been ppd due to rain. vr, Xei
2006-10-11 16:15:53
11.   Linkmeister
The Indians' pitchers, Campanella's auto accident, Munson, Darryl Kile...

Being an athlete doesn't give one immunity, despite what we'd like to think.

I'm so sorry for his family and friends.

2006-10-11 16:18:43
12.   Jon Weisman
11 - It's not any notions of immunity. It's the collective closeness we feel to some of them.
2006-10-11 16:33:56
13.   Uncle Miltie
I was a fan of Cory Lidle. He pitched very well in his two years with the A's. From what I remember, he was well liked by his teammates and only a few players around the league didn't like him because he was a replacement player.

This may be inappropriate, but I've always wondered what happens when a person dies; is the team obligated to pay the person's family? That's what I'm assuming, since it's a guaranteed contract and is considered a career ending injury.

My prayers go out tot his family.

2006-10-11 16:36:45
14.   Jon Weisman
13 - I have no idea and I hate to even speculate on that, but if any team had language in its contracts that would void them in the event of crashing your own plane, it would be the Yankees.
2006-10-11 16:39:11
15.   Disabled List
All four of the US pro sports leagues have a "disaster" policy, if an entire team is killed in a plane crash or some other calamity. I remember reading about it in SI after the Angels' team bus crashed about 15 years ago. Pretty chilling to think about, even all these years later.

IIRC, the diaster policies all basically involved canceling the remainder of that team's season, then holding a special draft from among all the other teams.

2006-10-11 16:41:18
16.   bhsportsguy
13 I did glance at and Lidle's contract ended this season, so he was a free agent.
2006-10-11 16:41:54
17.   Robert Fiore
I just barely restrained myself from posting a joke, and though I probably ought to be ashamed of myself for that, I have no sympathy for Lidle. Thurman Munson died of massive pilot error. Hitting the side of a building in Manhattan creates a presumption of the same. Lidle killed three people, endangered dozens more, and once the wrongful death suits are settled his family will be paupers. When you presume to fly an airplane you take your chances, and when you're wrong about your capabilities it's other people who pay for it.
2006-10-11 16:46:38
18.   Bob Timmermann
Presumably, Lidle had life insurance, but there would be a question if that covers him for flying as well as other liability issues.
2006-10-11 16:49:34
19.   Uncle Miltie
I probably ought to be ashamed of myself
You should have stopped posting after that.
2006-10-11 16:49:52
20.   Linkmeister
12 That's true, and maybe I put it badly. I just meant that their relative youth seems to confer immunity.

Housman wrote a poem about athletes passing:

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields were glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

2006-10-11 16:53:10
21.   Robert Fiore
Excuse me for believing that people are responsible for their actions.
2006-10-11 16:57:02
22.   Travis
15 I don't know if any of these policies have changed, but here were the 4 major sports disaster policies as of 1992. Summarizing/plagarizing a New York Times article from 1992, after the Angels' bus crash:

Baseball: If 6 or more players from a team's roster are disabled, that team is able to draft from the other teams. The league president would determine how many players are "frozen" -- or protected -- by the healthy teams. In addition, players with no-trade clauses would be protected.

NFL: The NFL has two designations; "disaster" and "near-disaster."

A near-disaster is described as a team losing fewer than 15 players in one accident. In such instances, a special draft would not be put into effect. Instead, a team would use such things as the waiver list to rebuild. But if a quarterback is among those lost, the victimized team would be able to draft up to two quarterbacks from other teams.

If 15 or more players were to be lost, the commissioner can decide whether he wants the team's season canceled. If it continues, the "near-disaster" contingencies apply.

NBA: If five or more players on a team "die or are dismembered," that team can draft from the other teams. Each team is allowed to protect five players, and only one player per team may be drafted.

NHL: If five or more players on a team are killed or dismembered, there is an unexplained "restocking plan" to fill that team's roster. Each team losing a player in the restocking plan is compensated $500,000 from a special life insurance policy.

2006-10-11 16:59:12
23.   bhsportsguy
21 I don't disagree with that sentiment but there is a time and place for that discussion like there will be a time and place to discuss how Lidle's death affects the Yankee's plans for the next season.

There is still a lot we don't know and may never know about how this accident occurred but to go to the personal responsibility card seems a bit crass given that the man just died.

Sometimes a little respect for the moment goes a long way, sure if it turns out that it was pilot error that caused the accident then we can go from there but for now I just think a little respect is not a place to go.

2006-10-11 17:04:44
24.   Jon Weisman
17/21 - I think the main problem with your post is that you seem to have concluded the accident investigation on your own. I haven't read every article today, so did I miss it being established that it was the pilot and not the plane or any other factors at fault?

In other words, you acknowledge that you're presuming - but then you run with that presumption. You may ultimately be right that Lidle was reckless, but aren't we a long way from knowing that?

2006-10-11 17:07:55
25.   Jim Hitchcock
I was in a coffee shop in Vero Beach, of all places, when I heard about Thurman Munson.
First thing that came to mind upon hearing the news today.
2006-10-11 17:14:45
26.   Jon Weisman
24 - I just want to clarify that I'm not trying to come down on you, Robert. I just didn't want you to think that people who questioned your post didn't think people shouldn't be responsible for your actions.
2006-10-11 17:15:09
27.   Robert Fiore
I'm not going to make a crusade out of this, but I think you're entitled to presume when the presumption is this strong. I've only heard of three other times when airplanes collided with buildings in Manhattan. Two of them were on purpose and one was in the fog. I've got a pretty good idea that you're not supposed to be flying at that altitude in that vicinity. It is a frivolous, dangerous hobby for people with more money than sense, and if you're going to engage in it as an amateur you ought to at least stay away from heavily populated areas.
2006-10-11 17:21:37
28.   bhsportsguy
Another sad note, since Lidle was a "replacement player," he never was a member of Player's association so I don't think he had pension benefits that other players with his service time would get.

I know he was compensated well for his last 2 years in baseball but again I just thought this was something to note.

2006-10-11 17:21:51
29.   DXMachina
27 I've got a pretty good idea that you're not supposed to be flying at that altitude in that vicinity.

Actually, he wasn't all that far from the legitimate VFR air corridor over the East River. The question is why did he stray? It may have been pilot error. It may also have been an aircraft malfunction, since there is a report that there was a distress call. There are also reports that he was flying with an instructor, for whom it would not be a frivolous, dangerous hobby.

2006-10-11 17:25:26
30.   Jon Weisman
27 - Again, don't necessarily disagree with your philosophy about flying and don't know that the others do either. Just wondering if the rush to judgment serves any purpose - and it is a rush. The information is still coming in, and it's not like Lidle's been glorified for days on end or something.
2006-10-11 17:27:12
31.   TheRedMenace
It's not clear at this point that the Lidle was, in fact, flying the plane.

When you speak/type without a reasonable grasp of basic information you run the risk of making yourself look like a genuine fool. Of course, for some, that is apt to occur in any case.

Finally, Jon or Bob, there is a serious troll problem in the Bronx Banter and I understand that the host is unavailable to do anything about it at this time. Is there anything that you can do to help?

2006-10-11 17:31:53
32.   Robert Fiore
Okay, fine. And I was wrong about this: You are allowed to fly over the river at under 1100 feet. The question now is why.
2006-10-11 17:38:40
33.   Disabled List
32 For all you know, the plane was flying a high altitude, had engine trouble, and was plummeting out of control downward when it hit that building.

Since the NTSB apparently appointed you lead investigator into the crash, why don't you drop the holier-than-thou attitude?

2006-10-11 17:40:58
34.   thinkblue0

Any particular reason you're completely disregarding the prospect that this was an aircraft malfunction?

2006-10-11 17:41:32
35.   Jon Weisman
33 - Okay, okay. The last thing we need is to turn this thing into a fight.
2006-10-11 17:54:35
36.   Travis
28 Replacement players get normal pension benefits, but don't get a share of licensing money ($35,000-$40,000/year) or a vote in union matters.
2006-10-11 18:05:40
37.   Greg Brock
Unless I missed it, nobody brought up the infamous Cal Poly crash that may have lead to John Madden's immense fear of flying:

On October 29, 1960 a chartered plane carrying the Cal Poly football team, hours after from a loss to Bowling Green State University, crashed on takeoff at the Toledo, Ohio airport. Eighteen of the forty-eight people on board were killed, including sixteen players, the team's student manager, and a Cal Poly football booster. Cal Poly alumnus John Madden's fear of flying is commonly attributed to the crash. Madden, who played football for Cal Poly from 1957-58 and was coaching at the nearby Allan Hancock Junior College at the time of the crash, knew many former teammates aboard the plane. Among the survivors were quarterback Ted Tollner, who went on to become head football coach of the University of Southern California and San Diego State University.

2006-10-11 18:13:14
38.   bhsportsguy
36 Thanks, I did not know that.
2006-10-11 18:18:36
39.   bhsportsguy
Yet another sad sidelight to the story, Corey Lidle's father found out via television and Lidle's wife and child were flying back commercial today to Los Angeles so they did not know until they were met at the plane (or probably once she turned on her cell phone when the plane landed)

2006-10-11 19:18:54
40.   dianagramr

ugh .... how sickening a thought ....

2006-10-11 19:27:58
41.   dzzrtRatt
The 1962 NL Rookie of the Year, a Cubs second baseman named Ken Hubbs, crashed a Cessna during the offseason and died. He had decided to become a pilot to overcome his fear of flying.

This story haunted me when I was a very young baseball fan.

2006-10-11 19:35:27
42.   Bob Timmermann
Hubbs had very little experience as a pilot as I recall and was not flying in good weather either.
2006-10-11 20:20:29
43.   jff123
In 1961 the entire U.S. Figure Skating team was killed on the way to the World Championships. I can't believe that I would know any sports trivia that you guys don't know, but I'm probably the only one here who follows figure skating.
2006-10-11 21:02:38
44.   Sam DC
This thread is too much for me.
2006-10-11 21:03:14
45.   oswald
14 jon, i don't mean to be rude, but that's kind of an asinine thing to say about the yankees. i'm no fan of the yankees, but they take care of their own and steinbrenner has an enormous heart when it's called for. take what they did for thurman munson:

"The next day, before the start of the Yankees' four-game set with the Baltimore Orioles in the Bronx, the Yankees paid tribute to their fallen captain in a pre-game ceremony during which the starters stood at their defensive positions, save for the catcher's box, which remained empty. At the conclusion of Robert Merrill's musical selection, the fans (announced attendance 51,151) burst into a 10-minute standing ovation.

Four days later, on August 6, the entire Yankee team attended his funeral in Canton. Lou Piniella and Bobby Murcer, who were Munson's best friends as well as teammates, gave moving eulogies. That night (in front of a national viewing audience on ABC's Monday Night Baseball) the Yankees beat the Orioles 5-4 in New York, with Murcer driving in all 5 runs with a three-run home run in the seventh inning and a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth.

Immediately following his death, Yankee owner George Steinbrenner announced that his uniform number 15 was being retired. On September 20, 1980, a plaque was dedicated in his memory and placed in Monument Park. The plaque bears excerpts from an inscription composed by Steinbrenner and flashed on the Stadium scoreboard the day after his death: "Our captain and leader has not left us, today, tomorrow, this year, next... Our endeavors will reflect our love and admiration for him." To this day, despite a packed clubhouse, an empty locker, with Munson's number 15 on it, remains as a tribute to the Yankees' lost catcher."

i love the dodgers, but what you suggested sounds more like something the dodgers would do. the franchise has a history of treating former players and players past their prime like crap.

2006-10-11 21:31:57
46.   Andrew Shimmin
45- I guess it's possible that Jon really was taking a crack at the Yankees, or Steinbrenner, or any of the rest of what you took him to be doing, but I didn't read it that way, at all. Munson was a Yankee; if any team would have a policy on that sort of accident, it would be the Yankees, because of Munson. That seems like a pretty neutral observation.
2006-10-11 21:34:17
47.   Jon Weisman
45 - I think you misread me. I wasn't suggesting that the Yankees didn't take care of their own. Or that they won't be there for Lidle's family (even though he's a free agent, I think). I was only suggesting that they would really discourage their players from flying, that's all.

I was suggesting that Steinbrenner's sadness over what happened to Munson would play a role in being nervous about athletes who fly, not that he would be vindictive.

2006-10-11 22:21:57
48.   Greg Brock
Many people think they're invincible. A lot of professional baseball players feel this way. The same type of drive and confidence that makes them pro athletes makes them think that they can fly a plane, with limited hours in the seat, and without proper instrument ratings. Cory Lidle's death, while tragic, is very telling (to me, in my opinion, what I think, if that's okay).
2006-10-11 22:34:10
49.   LAT
I'm not sure it says anything about Cory Lidle. We all think we are going to die of old age, athlete or not. And of course, many of us will not for various reasons.

I do agree that the feeling of immortality that drives great athletes may cause them to greater risks. Like riding a motorcycle without a helmet. A stupid and unnecessary risk. But flying a plane is not necessarily risky business. At some point, all experienced fliers have only 90 hours in the seat. Practice is how they get better.

One thing we do know is that at this point there is very little information. Let's wait and see.

2006-10-11 22:35:45
50.   LAT
I should disclose I hate to fly.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-10-11 22:44:35
51.   D4P
I do agree that the feeling of immortality that drives great athletes may cause them to greater risks. Like riding a motorcycle without a helmet

Or washing a truck

2006-10-11 23:02:56
52.   Greg Brock
Or carrying venison up a flight of stairs

(I'm looking at you, Clint Barmes)

2006-10-11 23:04:21
53.   D4P
Or drinking out of a glass in a "motel room"
2006-10-11 23:16:36
54.   Greg Brock
Nightfall will be coming soon

Oh my my, oh hell yes, you gotta put on that party dress.

2006-10-12 00:03:18
56.   scareduck
Man, what a discussion. Sheesh.
2006-10-12 01:34:27
57.   Andrew Shimmin
"Lidle agreed to a $6.3 million, two-year deal with the Phillies in November 2004. The contract contained a provision saying the team could get out of paying the remainder if he was injured or killed while piloting a plane.

"Because the regular season was over, Lidle had already received the full amount in the contract."

2006-10-12 06:09:26
58.   old dodger fan
dzzrtRatt is correct about Ken Hubbs. If memory serves, he was from Colton and his Little League team won the LL World Series in the mid 50's. I grew up in nearby San Bernardino and his death was a huge shock to the community.
2006-10-12 06:20:20
59.   Vishal
[48] why does this have to be about ego? he might have been a perfectly competent pilot, and something just went horribly awry. it happens. lots of people learn to fly. i want to learn to fly someday.
2006-10-12 07:05:38
60.   Sam DC
Hey folks, I'll be offline for a while. Catch you in a few weeks. Sam
2006-10-12 08:21:13
61.   Greg Brock
It doesn't have to be about ego. It doesn't have to be about anything. It's simply my opinion on the matter.
2006-10-12 08:46:17
62.   Vishal
they way you described it sounded like you were implying that wanting to fly was indicative of some arrogant hubris or something. it's dangerous, but i'm sure it's challenging, thrilling and rewarding as well. lots of things are dangerous. some people are just less risk-averse.

i am invincible, though :)

(i sometimes remember the scene in... goldeneye, was it? some recent bond film, anyway, where the russian guy yells "I am INVINCIBLE!" right before he is uh, vinced)

2006-10-12 09:35:34
63.   PlayTwo
I think of Lyman Bostock. He was just emerging for the Angels. Invincible, when a bullet meant for someone else took him down. Buzzie Bavasi recalled about him that he offered to loan Buzzie money when he was in need--the first and only player to do that.
2006-10-12 09:59:20
64.   Jonny6
Very telling? As a website filled with statistics enthusiasts, I am surprised to see a number of people on here who seem to interpret the Lidle crash as some kind of flaw in character. Accidents happen. Driving, walking across the street, playing baseball (yes, people die playing baseball - look up commotio cordis) - some activities are higher risk than others but unless you're an agoraphobic shut-in you can hardly live life without subjecting yourself to a certain level of risk. Without delving deeply into the numbers, I am going to guess that flying isn't that high on the list.

Lidle chose to fly, and not only seemed to know what he was doing, but had a FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR with him at the time of the accident. I don't see how that equates to a telling character flaw. And even though I didn't know Lidle, I can still have sympathy for what transpired yesterday and the sadness his family must now endure.

2006-10-12 10:01:46
65.   Snowdog
1 - D4P, I'd think with your statistical inclinations, you'd forey into statistics to find a probability.

162 games played / 3 game series = approx 54 series played. 1/2 of those are away and require a flight in and flight out, so that's 27 away series x 2 flights = 54 flights season per team x 30 teams = approx 1,620 chartered baseball team flights season (not include Spring Training and post season).

According to "", the odds of being killed on a single trip on an airliner is 52.6 million to 1 (besting that of a car, which is 7.6 million to 1).

Therefore, dividing 52.6 million by 1,620 flights, gives a probability of 1 in 32,470 that one person would be killed over 1,620 flights, or .003% chance over one season.

Did I do this right?

2006-10-12 10:52:31
66.   caseybarker
65 Good job. Math is an easy tool to gain insight into a situation.

Some follow-up information on Lidle and the plane--apparently, the parachute system is somewhat useless:

And guess who else lived in that building:

2006-10-12 12:35:30
67.   caseybarker
The thing is, there is always the next draft.
2006-10-12 12:55:21
68.   caseybarker
Sorry, that post goes in the current thread and not this one.

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