Roy Halladay joins list of shocking plane crash deaths in sports

Big League Stew

Star pitcher Roy Halladay died at age 40 on Tuesday when a plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.

The sports world has been no stranger to aviation tragedies. Teams and athletic programs from Manchester United (1958) to Marshall Football (1970) to Oklahoma State basketball (2001) have endured great tragedy while traveling to and from games.

[Tim Brown: Halladay’s wife, sons mourn death of their greatest hero]

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The list of athletes perishing in a plane crash — away from the requirements of their athletic schedule — is also sadly a long one and it’s one that Halladay now joins.

Here are a few of the most notable plane crash deaths involving athletes:

Knute Rockne (March 31, 1931) — The legendary Notre Dame football coach and seven others died after his plane crashed into a wheat field in Kansas. Rockne was only 43 and had been heading to California to participate in the filming of a movie entitled “The Spirit of Notre Dame.”

Ken Hubbs (Feb 15. 1964) — The Chicago Cubs second baseman won NL rookie of the year in 1962. He was killed just over a year later at age 22 after the plane he was piloting crashed in Utah. It was said that Hubbs was trying to overcome a fear of flying by taking flying lessons.

Rocky Marciano (Aug. 31, 1969) — The former heavyweight champion and two others were killed in Newton, Iowa after their Cessna hit a tree two miles short of the runway.  The NTSB concluded the pilot’s inexperience was a factor. Marciano would’ve turned 46 the next day.

Roberto Clemente (Dec. 31, 1972) —  The Pittsburgh Pirates star and future Hall of Famer was bringing aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua when his plane went down into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of his native Puerto Rico. He was 38 years old.

Thurman Munson (Aug. 2, 1979) — The catcher and soul of the late ’70s Yankee dynasty was killed after practicing landing his Cessna plane on an offday in Ohio. He was a perennial All-Star and won the AL MVP in 1976.

Alan Kulwicki (April 1, 1993) — Kulwicki was the reigning Winston Cup champion when his plane went down in Tennessee the week of the race in Bristol. He was 39.

Brook Berringer (April 18, 1996) — The Nebraska quarterback died at 22 when the plane he was piloting crashed in Raymond, Nebraska. Berringer was a NFL prospect and died just two days before the draft.

Rodney Culver (May 11, 1996) — The former Notre Dame running back and his wife Karen were among the 110 people who died when ValuJet Flight 592 crashed into the Florida Everglades. Culver, who played for the Colts and Chargers over four NFL season, was only 26 and left two young daughters behind.

Payne Stewart (Oct. 25, 1999) —  Stewart and five others were killed after the cabin of his Learjet lost pressure, sending the plane off course to South Dakota. Stewart, 42, was coming off a 1999 season that couldn’t have gone much better. Not only did he win the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, but he was also part of the 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup team that famously rallied to win at Brookline.

Cory Lidle (Oct. 11, 2006) — The Yankees pitcher was only 34 when he crashed his personal plane into an apartment building in New York City just days after the Yankees were eliminated from the ALDS. Halladay and Lidle were teammates on the Blue Jays.

Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972.

More Roy Halladay coverage from Yahoo Sports:
Baseball world reacts to Halladay’s tragic death
Sports world rocked again by plane crash death
5 moments that made us love Roy Halladay
Halladay’s plane, the ICON A5, was a ‘Jet Ski with wings’

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