Mar 22, 2015

Early Nineties Mets Pitcher: Cory Lidle (1997)

Cory Fulton Lidle was Born on March 22, 1972 in Hollywood, California. Lidle was a descendant of the inventor of the steamboat Robert Fulton, as reflected in his middle name. His brother Kevin, was a minor league catcher as well.

The right handed Lidle was signed by the Minnesota Twins in 1990, and then released by 1993. From there his contract was purchased by the Minnesota Twins, where he pitched in their minor leagues though 1995. During the baseball strike of 1994, Lidle crossed the picket lines to pitch, therefore he was never able to join the Players Union.

In January he was traded to the New York Mets for Kelly Stinnett. At AA Binghamton Liddle led the staff with 14 wins (14-10) 140 strike outs & a 3.38 ERA. He began 1997 at AA Norfolk going 4-2 that April before getting called up to the big league squad.

Liddle made his MLB debut on May 8th, 1997 pitching in relief of Rick Reed at the Astrodome, in a 4-2 loss to the Houston Astros. Three days later, he would earn his first career win in St. Louis pitching one scoreless inning of relief against the Cards. On May 19th he earned another win, when John Olerud hit a 9th inning walk off HR to beat the Colorado Rockies. He would start out his career at 3-0 with one save, going into early June. 

In July he would earn five holds out of the bullpen, earning another win on July 11th against the Atlanta Braves. On August 5thhe came in to pitch a tenth inning tie against the St. Louis Cardinals. He earned the win after holding them down & Edgardo Alfonzo hit a game winning sac fly. The following week he earned a win in St. Louis as Butch Huskey singled in the top of the 9th driving in the game winning run. Lidle would pitch well for the Mets, going 7-1 through September 23rd, not earning another loss until his last outing of the season. 

In 54 games, he was 7-2 with two saves posting a 3.53 ERA striking out 54 batters in 81 innings pitched. That November he was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the expansion draft.

He would make his way to Tampa for two seasons, before becoming a starting pitcher and going to Oakland in a huge three team deal. The deal sent Ben Grieve to Tampa, Mark Ellis & Johnny Damon to Oakland, & future Mets Roberto Hernandez & Angel Berroa to Kansas City. 

Lidle quietly had the best year of his career, going 13-6 with a 3.56 ERA (10th in the league) behind the Big Three of Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson & Barry Zito for the wild card winning Oakland A’s. He helped Oakland in their historic August run of 20 straight wins, going 5-0 allowing just one earned run all month in six games pitched.

Post Season: In the ALDS with Oakland leading two games to one, Lidle got roughed up taking the loss allowing six runs over 3.1 innings.

The next year he fell to 8-10 & was granted free agency. He went to Toronto going 12-15 then had another 12 win season pitching between the Cincinnati Reds & Philadelphia Phillies.

In 2005 he tied his career high 13 wins going 13-11 with a 4.53 ERA. After leaving the Phillies he criticized his team mates for not playing behind him on days he pitched.

By 2006 he signed with the A.L. New York club and went 4-3 on the season, making an appearance against the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS. After the series ended in defeat he publicly said the Tigers were more prepared than his team. 

He put blame on manager Joe Torre & appeared on WFAN defending himself & his team. Then hosts of Mike & the Mad Dog show both jumped on Liddle saying he wasn’t entitled to a day in New York, nor did they think much of him.

Passing: On October 11, 2006 Liddle took off in a small plane from Teterboro airport in New Jersey with a co pilot/ instructor. After circling the Statue of Liberty twice, he went up the East River past the 59th St Bridge where they lost radar contact.

While attempting to make a U-turn the small plane crashed into the Bel Aire apartments on 72nd St. overlooking the East River.

Lidle & the co pilot Tyler Stanger were both killed, shocking the baseball world, he was 34 years old.

The next night a moment of silence was held in his memory during the NLCS at Shea Stadium in a game between the Mets & Cardinals.

No comments: