I'll always remember the shock I felt when I heard that New York Yankees' great
Thurman Munson had died.
I was on duty aboard the USS Spruance in the middle of the night, somewhere in the middle of the Black Sea. I pulled a page from the news teletypewriter --no Internet in those days--to see a headline that pole-axed me "YANKEES THURMAN MUNSON DIES IN PLANE CRASH". I couldn't believe it. Thought it was some sick joke. Thurman Munson, the figure of health, the heart and soul of those great teams, was dead?
My shipmates on duty were briefly sad, sympathetic, but to them, Thurman was just some guy that they had heard of. To, me it was as if JFK had died. It was so sudden, awful.
Munson died behind his personal aircraft, a Cessna Citation jet. He bought it so that he could see his family in Canton, Ohio more often.
All these years later, this afternoon I am told that a small aircraft has crashed into a plane 20 blocks north of my office building. We in my company lived through 9/11, and, even more than most others, our thought turned to the possibility of a terrorist attack. A thought that, thank God, was quickly disproved.
It then came out that this small plane was flown by Corey Lidle, a New York Yankees' pitcher. Unlike Thurman, he was not a great athlete. His uniform number will not be retired.
But by all accounts he was a decent guy. He worked very hard to get his pilots license this past February. But why in the name of God did he want to be flying anywhere near Manhattan skyscrapers?
I love to fly as a passenger, and can understand why athletes, or anyone, can get the bug to fly airplanes. But I'd like my NY baseball players to get another hobby.
The dramatic photo of today's fire was taken by jkeller, from his apartment on Roosevelt Island, and was found on flickr. Good job.