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Tributes pour in for pitcher Lidle

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The world of baseball has been stunned by the tragic death of New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle who was killed when his light aircraft crashed into an apartment block in Manhattan on Wednesday.

"All of baseball is shocked and terribly saddened by the sudden and tragic passing of Cory Lidle," said MLB commissioner Bud Selig.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said the accident was a "terrible and shocking tragedy," while teammate Jason Giambi was "devastated" by the news.

Lidle, 34, was piloting the four-seat plane when it ploughed into a 52-story building in the up-market Upper East side.

The incident, which revived memories of the 9/11 attack, sparked a major security alert with fighter planes scrambled over major American cities.

Born in Hollywood, California, Lidle appeared last Saturday as a relief pitcher in the Yankees' final game of the season when they lost an American League playoff series to the Tigers in Detroit.

He began his Major League career began with rivals the New York Mets in 1997.

Lidle was traded to the Yankees this summer from the Philadelphia Phillies. His nine-year career record was 82 wins and 72 losses. He held an 4.57 ERA and also played for Tampa Bay, Oakland, Toronto, and Cincinnati.

Lidle combined his baseball career with a well-publicized passion for flying. He earned his pilot's license and purchased the four-seat Cirrus SR 20 plane, with less than 400 hours of flight time, for $187,000.

In 1979, Yankees all-star catcher Thurman Munson died at age 32 when a plane he was piloting crashed at Akron-Canton Regional Airport in Ohio while he practiced takeoffs and landings.

But Lidle told the New York Times in an interview last month that Yankees fans should not worry he would suffer the same fate, insisting his plane was safe.

Sadly his confidence has proved mistaken, leaving the team-mates and officials to digest the news.

"This is a terrible and shocking tragedy that has stunned the entire Yankees organization," Steinbrenner said in his statement.

"I offer my deep condolences and prayers to his wife Melanie and son Christopher on their enormous loss."

"This is a terrible shock," said manager Joe Torre said. "I was with (coaches) Ron Guidry and Lee Mazzilli when I heard the news and we were just stunned. Cory's time with the Yankees was short, but he was a good teammate and a great competitor. My heart goes out to his family."

Lidle played in high school with Giambi, and they were teammates in Oakland. They were reunited this season with the Yankees.

"Right now, I am really in a state of shock, as I am sure the entire MLB family is," Giambi said in a statement.

"My thoughts are with Cory's relatives and the loved ones of the others who were injured or killed in this plane crash. I have known Cory and his wife, Melanie, for over 18 years and watched his son grow up.

"We played high school ball together and have remained close throughout our careers. We were excited to be reunited in New York this year and I am just devastated to hear this news," he said.


Alexis Gomez of the Detroit Tigers during a moment of silence for Lidle on Wednesday.

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