Yankees Pitcher Lidle Killed in Plane Crash
  2006-10-12 09:23:33      AFP

Yankees pitcher Lidle was piloting the plane that crashed into a high-rise building in New York City and died in the accident, US media reported.

New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle was killed when the small plane he piloted crashed into a 50-story building, bringing a tragic end to his 10-year Major League Baseball career.

Police confirmed Lidle's death to ESPN shortly after his plane smashed into a high-rise, touching off terrorism fears and sending fighter jets into the skies over major American cities.

Lidle, a descendant of steamboat inventor Robert Fulton, finished his career 82-72 with a 4.57 earned-run average.

He was traded to the Yankees on July 30 from Philadelphia along with star Bobby Abreu and went 4-3 with the club in 10 games, nine as a starter. For the season, Lidle was 12-10 with a 4.85 earned-run average and 130 strikeouts.

Lidle pitched for seven teams since making his 1997 major league debut and his death touched players and clubs, including the four remaining teams in the hunt for this season's World Series title.

"I wish I had the words. It's sadder than sad. There are no words for it," said Rick Peterson, the New York Mets pitching coach who guided Lidle with the Oakland A's in 2002.

"It's horrific. It's unbelievable. It's almost surreal this could happen."

The Mets were set to play St. Louis here Wednesday in game one of the National League Championship series while Oakland and Detroit were to play in game two of the American League best-of-seven final.

Asked how he could go on in the wake of the tragedy, Peterson said, "I wish I had an answer. It just goes to show how insignificant some of things are that we think are really significant."

The tragedy brought back memories from Yankees fans of Thurman Munson, who died in a plane crash on August 2, 1979, while practicing takeoffs and landings in a twin engine Cessna Citation jet at the Akron-Canton airport.

The plane struck a tree and fell short of the runway on a landing attempt, bursting into flames and killing Munson, stunning the baseball community.

Lidle, 34, had started flying a plane just before the season began last April. He was survived by his wife Melanie and a six-year-old son, Christopher.

Lidle made his major league debut for the New York Mets in 1997. He went 7-2 in 54 appearances that season but played in only two major league games over the next two years.

"He stepped up big for us when we needed him," Peterson said. "It's just sad. It's unbearably sad."

After pitching for Tampa Bay in 1999 and 2000, Lidle enjoyed his greatest success with Oakland in 2001 and 2002. His best season record was 13-6 in 2001 and the next year he hurled a one-hit victory against Texas.

"I'd like to offer our condolences to the family," Oakland A's manager Ken Macha said. "He had a great August for us (in 2002), pitched a one-hitter against the Rangers."

On July 19, 2002, Lidle pitched seven no-hit innings before Texas slugger Juan Gonzalez led off the eighth inning with a double. Lidle finished the game to claim his first career shutout triumph.

Lidle went on to pitch for Toronto in 2003 and Cincinnati in 2004 before being traded to Philadelphia that year, where he stayed until joining the Yankees.



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