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It's Better to be Lucky...

Patricia Sullivan

That old saying, "It's better to be lucky than to be good," certainly applied in the case of Jack "Lucky" Lohrke, who died Wednesday in San Jose, Calif. A major league infielder in the 1940s and 1950s, Lohrke batted .242 with 22 home runs and 96 RBIs in 354 games with the New York Giants and Philadelphia Phillies from 1947-53, a respectable if not outstanding career record.

But he had a streak of luck a mile wide, it seems.

From the obit:

Lohrke served in the Army during World War II and fought in the D-Day invasion at Normandy and later in the Battle of the Bulge. He recounted how four soldiers - two on each side of him - were killed in combat.

In 1945, Lohrke was leaving the service when he prepared to board a military transport for the trip home to California. Shortly before takeoff, he was bumped from the flight by a higher-ranking officer. The plane crashed, and all passengers were killed.

In 1946, Lohrke and his minor league teammates on the Spokane Indians boarded a bus for a ride across the state of Washington. During a lunch stop, Lohrke got word that he'd been promoted to Triple-A San Diego, took his gear and hitchhiked home.

That night, the bus careened off a rain-slicked pass through the Cascades mountain range and plummeted into a valley, killing nine players. It remains the most deadly crash involving an American pro baseball team.

By Patricia Sullivan  |  April 30, 2009; 11:44 AM ET
Categories:  Patricia Sullivan  
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