The baseball world is mourning the death of New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle who lost his life when the small plane he owned crashed into the side of a high rise building Wednesday in New York City.
Lidle's flight instructor also died in the crash, but it is not yet certain who was piloting the plane which had dual controls. Lidle had earned his pilot's license last year.
Lidle's teammates were stunned at news of the crash. First baseman Jason Giambi played high school baseball with Lidle, also played with him on the Oakland Athletics and had remained close to him throughout their careers. Lidle played for seven different teams and Giambi said they were excited to be reunited in New York this season. He said he is "in a state of shock" and "devastated" at the loss of his friend.
Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner said "this is a terrible and shocking tragedy that has stunned the entire Yankees organization."
Lidle, who was 34, was married and had a six-year-old son.
In recent weeks, Lidle had repeatedly assured reporters that flying was safe and that the Yankees -- who were traumatized in 1979 when their star catcher Thurman Munson was killed in the crash of a plane he was piloting -- had no reason to worry.
Lidle had said flying was his escape from the stress of professional baseball and a way to see the world in a different light. Shortly before his plane crashed into an upper floor of the high rise building, he had flown over New York harbor and circled the Statue of Liberty.
The crash triggered a huge explosion that sent fire and smoke pouring out of two floors of the building. Televised images of the scene reminded many New Yorkers of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks during which hijackers crashed two jetliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
It was determined soon after Wednesday's crash that there was no link to any terrorist group.