This week I haven’t been able to do anything but think about how peoples’ lives can end so differently. Two baseball players died this week. Although when it comes to circumstance they had two drastically different endings. Baseball Legend, Buck O’Neil died Saturday at the age of 94. His was not suprising his health had been deteriorating for sometime now. He was made legend by the Negro Leagues but made immortal by his stories. He became the star of the 1994 Ken Burns’ documentory, Baseball. He had one of those voices you will never forget. His stories combined with his voice made you want to curl up in his lap and listen for days out on the screen porch. He died of old age surrounded by family.
As much as Buck’s passing was sad, Cory Lidle’s was tragic. I remember going home for lunch and turning on Fox News to see that a plane had crashed into a 50-story building in Manhattan, NY. I spent the next hour watching coverage and errily waiting for that next plane to hit much like 9/11. But 10/11 was no terrorist attack it was a hobby gone terribly wrong. I didn’t find out it was Lidle until about 5PM Pacific. My mom called me at work and asked me if I had heard about the plane crash. When I said I had she asked if I had heard it was a Yankee pitcher. I had heard nothing about that all afternoon. Not knowing Lidle was an avid pilot, the complete Yankee rotation and bullpen went through my head. I quickly entered ESPN in the address bar and found out it was Lidle. I learned a lot about Cory Lidle that evening. He was a replacement player in 1995 and was never allowed to join the MLB Players’ Union. He was only 34. He spent the last 11 years with 7 different organizations. He was outspoken but Baseball wasn’t just a job it was a love. Because he was a non-Union player he had to work that much harder because he wasn’t protected like the rest of the club. He leaves behind a wife and a 6 year old son. They had to find out at the airport in California after arriving from New York. His dad found out on TV after returning home from the golf course. They still don’t know how this flight would have gone terribly wrong for a pilot with nearly 100 solo hours. Luckily for the Yankees’ family they had already been eliminated from the playoffs and don’t have to mourn on the field. But then the question surfaces about whether or not he would have been flying if they were still playing.
Baseball lost two members of its exclusive fraternity. Yet they died so drastically different they are still mourned just the same by family, teammates and fans.