October 12, 2006
A single-engine plane carrying the Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle smashed into a 42-story building on the Upper East Side yesterday, killing Mr. Lidle and his flight instructor, the authorities said.
The afternoon crash beneath overcast skies sent debris clattering hundreds of feet to the sidewalk and started a fire that destroyed several apartments and left a charred smudge on the face of the building.
Mr. Lidle, 34, a pilot for less than a year who was traded to the Yankees in the summer, had talked enthusiastically about flying to his home in California this week.
As he cleaned out his locker at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, the day after the Yankees’ playoff hopes fizzled in a series loss in Detroit against the Tigers, he said that he planned to work on instrument training exercises yesterday before he left for California, and that his regular instructor, whom he identified as Tyler Stanger, was coming in to work with him. Officials said they believed that Mr. Stanger was the second victim.
A 5-foot-11 right-hander who rarely threw his fastball above 90 miles an hour, he was not drafted out of high school and played for three organizations in the minor leagues, including an independent team, before joining the Mets in 1997. He had also played for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Oakland Athletics, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies before joining the Yankees.
Mr. Lidle made one memorable start, a victory on Aug. 21 that concluded the Yankees’ five-game sweep of the Red Sox in Boston’s Fenway Park. He had a 4-3 record with a 5.16 earned run average for the Yankees and made a brief relief appearance in the team’s final playoff game on Saturday.
For his career, Lidle was 82-72 with a 4.57 earned run average, pitching in 277 games. He was a free agent and was not expected to return to the Yankees, though he said on Sunday that he hoped to sign a two-year contract this winter.
Mr. Lidle, who was married with a 6-year-old son, lived in Glendora, Calif. He had earned his pilot’s license during the last off-season. He said last month that the four-year-old plane had cost $187,000 and had “cool safety features.”
From the New York Observer's blog the day of the crash:
I’m surprised that everyone covering Corey Lidle’s death has avoided the psychological question: Was depression or suicidal feeling a factor in the crash?
Let’s go to the videotape: in his last appearance in the public eye, just four days before his death, Saturday October 7, Corey Lidle came into the Yankees’ most important game of the season in the third inning. The Yankees were losing the game, 4-0, and Lidle then closed the door in the third and fourth, but couldn’t get an out in the 5th; he gave up three runs. When he was lifted, the Yankees were down 7-0. Yes, Jaret Wright lost the game; but Lidle put it out of reach. The Yankees departed the postseason, 8-3.
I’m blanking on his name, but at least one MLB pitcher who screwed up committed suicide in the off-season. [If the author is thinking of Donnie Moore, he or she might be wrong about the reason for the suicide.] Athletes in other sports have, too.
I don’t mind Katie Couric oozing a widow’s sympathy last night when she asked her reporter, “And what about his family?” But I’d like to hear some other questions: How did Corey Lidle respond to his dramatic failure on Saturday? Did he hold himself responsible for the Yankees’ demise? How fit was he to get in behind the controls?
This interactive graphic is one of the best that the NYT's have ever done.
The NSTB concluded that it was pilot error and a civil trial found the manufacturer not at fault.
If it wasn't an accident, Lidle would not be the only ex-Yankees pitcher to die by suicide.