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Notable athletes who have died in plane crashes

Boxing great Rocky Marciano, Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente and golfer Payne Stewart are among big-name athletes who have lost their lives in plane crashes.

September 07, 2011|By Houston Mitchell
  • Among athletes who died in plane crashes were (from left) Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente, unbeaten heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano and U.S. Open golf champion Payne Stewart.
Among athletes who died in plane crashes were (from left) Hall of Fame outfielder… (Associated Press )

Notable athletes who have died in a plane crash:

Oct. 18, 1925 -- Marvin Goodwin, Cincinnati Reds pitcher. Goodwin was one of the 17 pitchers allowed to continue throwing the spitball after it was outlawed in 1920. He died in Houston after crash-landing his plane in a training exercise with the Army Air Reserve. Believed to be the first pro athlete killed in a plane crash.

May 4, 1949 -- 22 members of the Torino soccer club. The entire team was killed when its plane crashed into a mountain near Torino, Italy, near the end of league play in Serie A, which immediately canceled the rest of the season and declared Torino the champions.

Oct. 27, 1949 -- Marcel Cerdan, former world middleweight champion, died en route to fight Jake LaMotta in Spain when his plane crashed into São Miguel Island, Azores.

Nov. 27, 1956 -- Charlie Peete, who won the triple-A batting championship in 1956 and was projected by some as the leading candidate to be the St. Louis Cardinals' 1957 starting center fielder, was killed in a commercial airplane crash in Caracas, Venezuela, while flying to his winter-league baseball team. His wife, Nettie, and their three young children were also among the 25 victims of the crash.

Feb. 6, 1958 -- Eight members of the English soccer team Manchester United were killed when the plane they chartered to bring them back from a European Cup match against Red Star Belgrade in Yugoslavia crashed after taking off from Riem Airport in Munich.

Oct. 10, 1960 -- 16 members of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo football team were killed when their plane crashed on takeoff at the Toledo Express Airport in Toledo, Ohio. Twenty-two of the 48 people on board were killed, including 16 players, the team's student manager and a Cal Poly football booster.

Feb. 16, 1961 – The entire U.S. figure skating team (18 members) was killed on its way to the 1961 world championships when its plane crashed on approach to Brussels' Zaventem Airport.

Feb. 15, 1964 – Chicago Cubs second baseman Ken Hubbs, who in 1962 became the first rookie to win a Gold Glove, was killed when the plane he was piloting crashed near Provo, Utah. Hubbs had a fear of flying, which he decided to overcome by taking flying lessons.

July 24, 1966 – Golfer Tony Lema, who won the 1964 British Open,  took a plane from the PGA Championship to an exhibition tournament in Lincolnshire, Illinois. The chartered plane ran out of fuel and crashed in a water hazard short of the seventh green of Lansing Country Club in Lansing, Illinois.

Aug. 31, 1969 -- Rocky Marciano, the only undefeated heavyweight boxing champion in history, when the plane he was in crashed outside Newton, Iowa, on the eve of his 46th birthday.

Nov. 14, 1970 -- 36 Marshall University football players, when the aircraft crashed into a hill just short of the Tri-State Airport in Ceredo, W. Va., killing all 75 people on board. The flight and its aftermath were memorialized in the film "We Are Marshall."

Dec. 31, 1972 – Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente, when his plane crashed into the ocean en route to Nicaragua to aid earthquake victims. The baseball Hall of Fame waived its eligibility requirements and elected Clemente to the Hall the following year.

June 24, 1975 – New York Nets forward Wendell Ladner, when his plane crashed in New York.  The crash was so catastrophic that Ladner was one of the few people whose remains could be identified, and only because he was wearing his ABA championship ring.

Nov. 29, 1975 -- Graham Hill, two-time Formula One champion, when the plane he was piloting crashed while attempting to land in foggy conditions near Arkley golf course in North London.

Aug. 2, 1979 – Yankees catcher Thurman Munson, killed when his plane crashed while he was practicing takeoffs and landing in Canton, Ohio. Munson had taken flying lessons so he could fly home to see his family during the season.

March 14, 1980 -- 14 members of the U.S. amateur boxing team when the jet they were on crashed while attempting to land in Warsaw.

Aug. 16, 1987 -- Nick Vanos, Phoenix Suns center, when his plane crashed on takeoff from Romulus, Mich., killing all 154 people aboard.

April 1, 1993 -- Alan Kulwicki, the defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion, while he was returning from an appearance at the Knoxville Hooters in a Hooters corporate plane on a short flight across Tennessee before the Sunday race at Bristol.

April 18, 1996 -- Brook Berringer, Nebraska quarterback. Best known for replacing an injured Tommie Frazier during the 1994 season and leading the Cornhuskers to seven consecutive wins and to the Orange Bowl national championship game against the Miami Hurricanes, Berringer died two days before the NFL draft when the plane he was piloting crashed in Raymond, Neb.

May 11, 1996 – San Diego Chargers running back Rodney Culver, when the flight from Miami to Atlanta crashed in the Florida Everglades, killing all 110 people aboard.

Oct. 25, 1999 – Golfer Payne Stewart, four months after his U.S. Open victory, was killed in the depressurization of a Learjet flying from Orlando to Dallas for the Tour Championship. The plane, apparently still on autopilot, angled off-course, and continued to fly, with apparently all members aboard either unconscious or dead, until it ran out of fuel and crashed into a field near Mina, S.D.

Jan. 27, 2001 -- Oklahoma State basketball players Dan Lawson and Nate Fleming, when one of three planes carrying Oklahoma State staff and players crashed in a snow storm near Byers, Colorado.

Oct. 11, 2006 – New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, when his small plane crashed into a 40-story apartment building in New York. Lidle was taking flying lessons at the time.

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