NEW YORK (AP) – Cory Lidle put together a successful career as a major league pitcher by living on the edge.

Not the hardest thrower, he worked to the corners. He also drew admirers for the way he won.

“Cory was a gambler. He always tried to take chances,” Oakland coach Ron Washington said Wednesday before the Athletics faced Detroit in the AL playoffs.

Lidle was presumed killed along with a second person Wednesday when his small plane crashed into a 50-story skyscraper in Manhattan.

The 34-year-year-old Lidle, who began his career in 1997 and enjoyed moderate success, recently completed perhaps his most troubling season in the majors. He got into spats with the two teams he played for, the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies.

Once the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs, Lidle had something to look forward to – he planned to fly himself home to California, making several stops along the way.

Lidle got his pilot’s license last offseason, bought his own plane and had made flying his passion.

“Yeah, it’s risky, but no more risky than driving a car,” Lidle said in August when the Yankees played at Seattle.

Lidle said he was sure the Yankees weren’t happy about the plane, but added that no one in the organization had said anything to him about it.

The topic of players flying airplanes is a troubling one for the Yankees. Team captain Thurman Munson was killed flying his own plane during the 1979 season in Ohio, and his catcher’s gear still hangs in a special spot in the Yankees’ clubhouse.

Lidle played in high school with Jason Giambi, and they became teammates on the Yankees this season.

“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 15 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.”

Lidle had a 6-year-old son, Christopher.

Lidle said he liked to fly around in the offseason to see family and friends, especially his brother, a former minor league player, in Florida.

He got into a spat with the Phillies when they traded him to the Yankees in July 30, criticizing his ex-teammates for not trying hard enough, and ended the season with the Yanks on bad terms.

Lidle was dropped from the Yankees’ postseason rotation, reduced to a relief role instead of starting in the surprising four-game loss to Detroit. After the defeat, Lidle was quoted as saying the Yankees weren’t as prepared as the Tigers.

On Tuesday, aware that he was getting criticized on WFAN radio, he called the station to defend himself. What ensued was a testy interview, with Lidle insisting his comments were not directed at manager Joe Torre.

Lidle was 82-72 with a 4.57 ERA while playing for the New York Mets, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Toronto, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and the Yankees.


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