Major League Baseball
 
Tragedy strikes the baseball world

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Chris Ruddick Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Like most people on Wednesday I was sitting in my office when I heard the news of the plane crash in New York City. Obviously, in the world we live in now, the first thoughts that went through my mind were that it was another terrorist attack.

But after watching the news for a bit you could tell this was not an attack, but just a horrible, horrible accident. Then as I was driving home, the news took a terrible turn. The plane was registered to New York Yankees right-hander Cory Lidle and he was actually on board and presumed dead along with his flight instructor Tyler Stanger.

I was shocked. It is not often in life that I am really stunned when I hear something, but I almost ran off the road upon hearing this. Immediately I called a friend because I just couldn't believe what I had just heard.

The plane, believed to be Lidle's Cirrus SR-20, took off at about 2:30 p.m. (et) and circled the Statue of Liberty before heading north along the path of the East River. The crash apparently occurred just after 2:40 p.m., as a 9-1-1 call was placed at 2:42 p.m., shortly after air traffic control lost contact with the pilot.

Lidle had earned his pilot's license last offseason and had over 400 hours in the air under his belt.

"He started taking the lessons when he was in Oakland," said St. Louis pitcher Mark Mulder, a teammate of Lidle's for two years in Oakland. "That was right about the point when he started to talk about it. I feel terrible."

The Yankees acquired Lidle from the Philadelphia Phillies just before the trading deadline in July and he posted a record of 4-3 with a 5.16 earned run average in 10 games, including nine starts, with New York.

Overall in 2006, Lidle was 12-10 with a 4.85 ERA in 31 games, including 30 starts. He had a career mark of 82-72 with a 4.57 ERA in nine big league seasons with the New York Mets, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia and the Yankees.

"Right now, I am really in a state of shock, as I am sure the entire MLB family is," said New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi, who was also a high school teammate of Lidle's. "My thoughts are with Cory's relatives and the loved ones of the others who were injured or killed in this plane crash. I have known Cory and his wife Melanie for over 18 years and watched his son grow up. We played high school ball together and have remained close throughout our careers. We were excited to be reunited in New York this year and I am just devastated to hear this news."

It is amazing how your perception of someone changes. Just two days ago I was hammering Lidle and glad that I would never have to see him pitch in a Yankee uniform again. Now he is dead and sadly leaves behind a wife and a six-year-old son.

As if this story could not get any worse, Lidle's wife and child were on a cross-country flight at the time of the crash and did not find out what had happened until they landed - well after the general public had already heard the news.

After the Yankees' American League Division Series loss to Detroit, Lidle said his team was unprepared. Known as being outspoken in his career, a lot of people took that as a direct knock on manager Joe Torre. Lidle was getting ripped on the radio airwaves in New York for his comments and actually called into the Mike and the Mad Dog Show on WFAN radio to defend himself.

Listening to that radio interview now makes Wednesday's events even more surreal.

REACTIONS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE

  • MLB Commissioner Bud Selig: "All of baseball is shocked and terribly saddened by the sudden and tragic passing of Cory Lidle," Commissioner Selig said. "Cory was only 34 years old and had played in the Major Leagues for nine seasons with seven different clubs. He leaves a young wife, Melanie, and a young son, Christopher. Our hearts go out to them on this terrible day."

  • Executive director of the MLB Players Association, Donald Fehr: "We were very shocked and saddened to learn of the fatal plane crash involving Cory Lidle and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cory's family and friends, and to the families and friends of others killed or injured in this terrible accident."

  • NY Yankee owner George Steinbrenner: "This is a terrible and shocking tragedy that has stunned the entire Yankees organization. I offer my deep condolences and prayers to his wife, Melanie, and son, Christopher, on their enormous loss."

  • NY Yankee GM Brian Cashman: "I am deeply saddened by this tragic event and I ask everyone to keep Cory, his family and all those affected by this tragedy in your prayers."

  • NY Yankee manager Joe Torre: "This is a terrible shock. I was with Ron Guidry and Lee Mazzilli when I heard the news and we were just stunned. Cory's time with the Yankees was short, but he was a good teammate and a great competitor. My heart goes out to his family."

  • NY Yankee captain Derek Jeter: "I am shocked by this devastating news. Spending the last few months as Cory's teammate, I came to know him as a great man. While he was known as a baseball player, he was, more importantly, a husband and father and, at a time like this, I want to share my deepest sympathies with his wife Melanie, his son Christopher and all those who know and loved him."

  • Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Randy Wolf: "It makes me feel numb. Cory was an even better person than he was a pitcher and I hope that's how he's remembered. I feel fortunate that I got to know Cory, first as a teammate and then as a friend."

  • Philadelphia Phillies president Dave Montgomery: "This is unthinkable that something he became so involved in could have this tragic result. The Phillies family is extremely saddened by the tragic news involving Cory Lidle. Our thoughts and prayers are extended to his wife Melanie, son Christopher and those families who were affected by the terrible incident in New York."

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