Six years ago today, the Yankees lost starting pitcher Cory Lidle to a plane crash in New York City shortly after their ALDS loss to the Tigers.
Cory Lidle was a Yankee for fewer than three months, but he proved himself to be a great teammate and his death on this date six years ago was tough to handle. The eight-year veteran of age 34 was part of the crucial Bobby Abreu trade at the deadline in 2006 that shored up the outfield for the Yankees and guided them to the AL East championship. Lidle was with the Phillies and had previously pitched against the Yankees with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Oakland Athletics, and Toronto Blue Jays. While an "A," he was a key part of the amazing 20-game winning streak that Oakland had in 2002, pitching to a sparkling 0.20 ERA in six August starts.
Lidle slotted in at the back of the Yankee rotation in '06 and pitched mostly-subpar baseball, but he saved his best for the final game of "Boston Massacre II," a five-game sweep of the Red Sox in Fenway Park that ended with Lidle's six shutout innings in a 2-1 victory. He only made one appearance with the Yankees in the playoffs, getting knocked around for three runs on four hits in 1.1 innings on October 7th while the Detroit Tigers blew the clinching Game 4 open, 7-0. It was the last game he would ever pitch. Lidle was not the most popular Yankee to the media in his brief stay, and the radio show "Mike and the Mad Dog" criticized him for questioning manager Joe Torre's strategy after season ended. He challenged their words by confronting them about it in a call to the radio show shortly before his death, earning him points for not standing idly as blowhards unnecessarily tore into him.
Lidle enjoyed flying, but while on a lesson in the City on the morning of October 11th, the aircraft crashed into a New York City apartment, causing a brief terrorist scare. Shockingly, it was Lidle in the helicopter. Both he and his instructor perished. Baseball observed his passing with a moment of silence in Oakland at the start of ALCS Game 2 between Lidle's old team, the Athletics, and the last team to face him, the Tigers. Another moment of silence was observed the next day close to home at Shea Stadium for NLCS Game 1 between the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals. The Yankees wore black armbands for the 2007 season in his memory. Lidle left behind a wife and a son, Stanger Lidle, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the Yankees' 2007 season.
Rest in peace, Cory.