'It's sad. It's tragic'

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

NEW YORK -- Usually, a few hours before game time players watch video of that night's opposing pitcher.

Players in the New York Mets clubhouse were glued to the TV set watching flames burst from an east-side, highrise in Manhattan yesterday afternoon.

"First, the news on the TV was that it was a helicopter crash, then they said it was a plane, then they said it was Cory Lidle's plane, then they said it wasn't and then they said it was," said Carlos Delgado.

Lidle and Delgado were teammates with the 2003 Blue Jays.

Lidle, 34, who pitched in relief in Game 4 for the New York Yankees against the Detroit Tigers, was one of two people killed when his Cirrus SR20 slammed into the building.

"It's sad, it's tragic," Delgado said outside the Mets clubhouse as the rain pelted Shea Stadium. "It goes to show you there are a lot more important things in life in baseball."

Acquired from the Oakland A's for two minor leaguers, Mike Rouse and Christopher Mowday, by Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, Lidle was 12-15 with a 5.75 earned run average for the Jays in 2003. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 2004.

"It's definitely tough for us, he's part of our baseball family, but it is tougher for his family. I'm at a loss for words," Delgado said. "Life is a precious thing. I don't think anyone else was watching anything else on the TV."

We saw Lidle and his son Christopher running around the Philadelphia Phillies spring training clubhouse in Clearwater, Fla., like so many fathers and sons. Today 6-year-old Christopher wakes up without a father.

Cory's identical twin brother Kevin was a catcher in the Colorado Rockies system. Once with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kevin Lidle came back from a rehab assignment and coach Carlos Tosca had a 10-minute conversation with him before realizing he was talking to Kevin and not Cory.

Emotions ran the rollercoaster yesterday at Shea in the borough of Queen's. When news came that a highrise had been hit by a plane it brought back memories of Sept. 11, 2001? Would there be more?

Fighter jets were launched. Then, news came that it was a single-plane accident. An hour later, news broke that it was Lidle's plane.

"He was always smiling, he was a happy-go-lucky guy, who wanted to learn," former teammate John Franco said. "I know he took a lot of my money playing pool. The first thing I thought about was Yankee catcher Thurman Munson dying in a plane crash."

Lidle said last month he was not worried about flying.

"The whole plane has a parachute on it," Lidle said. "Ninety-nine per cent of pilots that go up never have engine failure, and the 1% that do usually land it. But if you're up in the air and something goes wrong, you pull that parachute, and the whole plane goes down slowly."

Lidle had only seven months experience flying and told the media when he cleaned out his locker Monday at Yankee Stadium that he was planning to fly home to California.

"This puts everything in perspective, you know -- 'The Yankees are bad, Joe Torre is getting fired,'" said Larry Bowa, Lidle's former manager with the Philadelphia Phillies and now a Yankee coach.

'HE WAS A SCAB'

Lidle was a replacement player in 1995 and was never fully accepted by some players. He was combative at the time, knocking the Phillies after he was dealt to the Yankees as part of the Bobby Abreu trade at the July 31 deadline.

Phillies reliever Arthur Rhodes responded to Lidle by saying: "He was a scab. When he started, he would go 5 1/3 innings and the bullpen would have to win the game for him. The only thing Cory Lidle wants to do is fly around in his plane and gamble. He doesn't have a work ethic. After every start, he didn't run or lift weights. He would sit in the clubhouse and eat ice cream."

True or not, young Christopher awakes this morning without a father as the upper east side attempts to gain some normalcy.


Videos

Photos