Cory Lidle died Wednesday when his plane slammed into a New York building. I was a little saddened by it, but it didn't affect my mood much, if it all. I was more intrigued by the crazy spate of IMs I received from friends and co-workers during the 10 minutes or so between the point when Lidle's death was a rumor to when it was confirmed -- if you could call it that -- via the authority of the New York Times. I thought of Thurman Munson immediately. Strange world.
Normally, I attribute my disinterest in celebrity death to my 20 years in journalism -- people die, a lot of them, every day. But as King Kaufman ably points out today, we don't really know these guys. Maybe it's better that way.
Kaufman added a little anecdote about how one little offhand incident made Mike Sharperson stand out. Enough that when Sharperson died, it shook him up.
That brings me to Mike Darr. Which is kind of weird, now that I think of all the details.
Darr was a slap-hitting outfielder who I was all too familiar with because he occupied a slot on one of my fantasy teams for a few seasons. Erik, my co-owner, and I every season would think that maybe this would be the one that Darr broke out into at least a threat to hit a double. Homers were pretty much a dream for us. I have no idea what the Padres were thinking.
So it's Sept. 22, 2001. Barry Bonds is chasing the single-season HR record, and I am following the Giants on a San Diego-Los Angeles road trip. It's the Tony Gwynn tribute weekend, which is sort of a scheduling snafu because of the delays caused by the planes flying into the World Trade Center two weeks back. It's Saturday night, the game is tied after nine innings. I've been sitting high up in the right-field seats, but I manage to sneak down to the third row or so in the right-field bleachers because Bonds is batting fourth in the 10th inning. The Giants go 1-2-3 in the top, so no Bonds. Trevor Hoffman is scheduled to lead off for the Padres, but you know that's not happening. The pinch hitter is Mike Darr.
I laugh on the inside, thinking that the Giants are pretty safe here. Darr lifts a fly ball to the left-center gap. I have a perfect view: Calvin Murray runs to his right, he throws up his glove, the ball hits it, and bounces over the wall. Home run. Game over.
That was Darr's second homer of the season, fifth of his career. It wasn’t even legit. But it was his last. In spring training the next season, he died in a car accident.
And I remember him.