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What would MLB do if a team plane crashed?

Sep 8, 2011, 2:30 PM EDT

Old airliner

In light of yesterday’s tragic crash of the plane carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team, Al Yellon of SB Nation details the plans in place — which Major League Baseball is understandably loathe to talk much about — in the event that tragedy were to strike a major league team in which more than five of its players were lost. Think: mega expansion draft.

It’s uncomfortable to even think about, but every organization of any size and importance has contingency plans in place for disaster. At least they should. And, as morbid as it may be, I take a great deal of interest in this kind of thing.  Stuff like that speech Nixon was going to read if Armstrong and Aldrin got stranded on the moon. Succession plans of government and business.  The rules for organizing the insurgency when the aliens come and enslave us all.

Hey, ya gotta go to the dark places sometimes. So few people like to go there that it’s easy to get a lot of thinking done in peace.

  1. littledill - Sep 8, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    Wow, I find it fascinating that MLB even has a plan in place for such an unthinkable disaster. It’s a shame what happened to the KHL team in Russia… Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims’ families.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 8, 2011 at 2:55 PM

      Unfortunately MLB should be prepared as all other leagues should. Plane crashes killing almost all a team’s members isn’t a new thing. Most know of the Marshal football team crash, but less known, especially here in the US, is the crash in 1949 of the Italian club team Torino FC. With 5 straight Serie A championships, they were the soccer powerhouse and lost almost all their members after a crash playing a friend at Benfica.

      As an aside, I’m sort of shocked that insurers/reinsurers allow teams to travel on the same flight. The catastrophic loss usually prevents companies from sending all their board members/executives on the same flight, you’d think they’d want the same with these teams?

      • - Sep 8, 2011 at 3:48 PM

        Wichita St lost half of their football team in the 70’s to a plane crash. Oklahoma State lost part of their basketball team in the late 90’s.

        It’s happened in the US, just with a professional team.

      • Alex K - Sep 8, 2011 at 4:00 PM

        University of Evansville lost their entire basketball team in 1977.

      • raysfan1 - Sep 8, 2011 at 10:33 PM

        Don’t forget the plane crash that killed the US boxing team in Poland in 1980.
        Also, it of course doesn’t always have to be a plane crash–for example the Bluffton University bus crash in 2007.

  2. giselleisasucubus - Sep 8, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    one of my fears as a sports fan. I hate to say it, but this will happen in a major US sport someday. Law of averages…

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 8, 2011 at 3:32 PM

      ….is being greatly misunderstood by you right now.

  3. antlerclaws - Sep 8, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    I have to admit I’ve thought about this too, even before this accident. And I’ve thought about how stunned all the fans of that hockey team must feel. Even if you don’t personally know them, if you are a true fan of a team, you follow every move the team makes, know the personalities and idiosyncrasies of your favorite (and least favorite) players, coaches, broadcasters, etc. It must be a real body blow to have to absorb all that at once, and I can see it affecting people psychologically as well as emotionally.

  4. thefalcon123 - Sep 8, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    This is something I think about a lot, but then I realize that the Brewers triple A team would still win a couple of games and the Cardinals still wouldn’t win the Central. And then I’m sad for a while.

  5. phukyouk - Sep 8, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    when the Yanks lost their Captain i think that the whole league felt it.. and that was just one person. could you imagine if ANY teams, even AAA, lost their roster. but yea i agree with the above that some day it will happen and its going to be an absolute loss to the entire sport.

  6. goawaydog - Sep 8, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    When Japan brought their Sumo Basho to California (first time they ever had a Basho out of the country I believe) they made the wrestlers fly in two separate planes, every other man on a different plane, by rank. That way if one plane did go down they would not lose everyone.

  7. Old Gator - Sep 8, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    Having just stepped off a flight from Macondo to Toronto, I don’t want to think about this right now. I have to fly home on Saturday.

    Meanwhile, it’s good to know MLB has a contingency plan for such a disaster. Now if only FEMA had a contingency plan for a Yellowstone eruption or a really big New Madrid earthquake.

    On the brighter side, weren’t Constellations the most beautiful commercial airplanes ever designed?

    • Francisco (FC) - Sep 8, 2011 at 4:28 PM

      You’re in Toronto? There’s a game tomorrow maybe we can get together to boo the Yankees and whine about Ozzie.

      • Old Gator - Sep 8, 2011 at 11:28 PM

        Francisco: ordinarily I’d love to but my schedule for the rest of my visit, unfortunately a short one, is completely packed. Email Craig with your (giggle) real name and email and ask him to forward them to me and we’ll set something up for my next trip up near the end of October.

  8. addictedzone - Sep 8, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    I am most impressed with Craig throwing up a picture of a Constellation, one of the most recognizable planes ever made.

    • - Sep 8, 2011 at 4:42 PM

      Yes, the Connie is a legendary aircraft.
      Although a Pan-Am 747 would have been just as cool.

      • Old Gator - Sep 8, 2011 at 11:29 PM

        What’s more impressive is that Craig was able to swallow it in the first place.

  9. Chipmaker - Sep 8, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    Good ol’ Rule 29. I recall it doesn’t address what to do in the event of a catastrophe during the postseason.

    Closest MLB has ever come to needing it was the Angels bus crash in 1992, and it wasn’t all that close.

    • Chipmaker - Sep 8, 2011 at 4:26 PM

      To add — MLB’s disaster plan isn’t particularly confidential, they simply don’t advertise it. It is codified in Major League Rule 29, which can be downloaded (PDF) from

      This is an omnibus doc, with the ML Rules, the ML Constitution, and the Professional Baseball Agreement all stuffed into one. Rule 29 begins on page 118 of the entire document. (This is from 2008, but probably hasn’t changed much if at all, and certainly delivers the basic mechanisms that would be enacted.)

      Hope MLB never needs it, but nice (sort of) to know they’re ready if they do.

  10. hansob - Sep 8, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    I wonder if Craig has a pre-written disaster post should Ryan Howard win the World Series MVP.

  11. uuddlrlrbastart - Sep 8, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    Craig, you posted about this last year:

    Which I used at work today because it came up in conversation yesterday. It’s been a morbid two days.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 8, 2011 at 6:47 PM

      Holy crap. I had absolutely no memory of writing that. I think maybe I post too much.

  12. Glenn - Sep 8, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    The 1960 Minneapolis Lakers teams had an emergency landing in a snowy cornfield. They were all very lucky to make it. Emergency vehicles were chasing them around while they tried to find a landing place. Bill Simmons had a bit about it in his basketball book.

  13. ta192 - Sep 8, 2011 at 11:34 PM

    I recall, in the late 50s (and early 60s), the Cards having a prohibition on Musial flying on the same flight with the rest of the team…but I can’t recall if this was a firm policy or not. To the best of my recollection, not too long thereafter, MLB had in place a restocking plan based on the model of the first expansion drafts for exactly this kind of contingency. Just makes sense.

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