10 December 2013

paying tribute to len koenecke

for the last few weeks of the 1935 season, the brooklyn dodgers wore black armbands to honor their deceased teammate, len koenecke.  you can see the armband on this 1993 conlon collection the sporting news card of dodger shortstop lonny frey
when i was researching the armband, i was surprised that i had never heard about koenecke's death before.  he had hit .320 for the dodgers in 1934, but was batting only .283 over 100 appearances in 1935. after the game on september 15, 1935 in chicago, the team headed to saint louis, and koenecke was informed that he was being sent home for the remainder of the season.  he then chartered a plane from saint louis to buffalo (his family was still in new york), but did not survive the trip.

the story goes that koenecke had been drinking before getting on the plane.  he was sitting up front with the pilot and sometime after takeoff became violent.  in the struggle that ensued, he was hit over the head with a fire extinguisher and died.  the plane landed near toronto, ontario, and koenecke was pronounced dead.  here's a link to koenecke's obituary.

as for frey, he lived to the ripe old age of 99, passing away in 2009.

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