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Len Koenecke
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Len Koenecke's Bat

The events leading to the death of outfielder Len Koenecke are amongst the most bizarre in baseball history. Koenecke was a popular player for the Brooklyn Dodgers when he was sent down to the minor leagues by manager Casey Stengel, in September, 1935. On the way to his minor league assignment, he chartered a plane in Detroit to go to Buffalo. About halfway through the flight, Koenecke became “restless and started grabbing at the controls,” according to the pilot of the plane, William J. Mulqueeny. Pilot Mulqueeney was forced to take the onboard fire extinguisher and hit Koenecke over the head with it multiple times, which killed him. The plane then landed in Toronto, where Mulqueeny and his onboard assistant, Irwin Davis, were, at first, arrested on manslaughter charges.

This bat is the only known bat used by Len Koenecke in a game. The bat is a side written bat, which means that there is a grease pencil marking on the side, indicating to the bat maker the exact specifications of the type of bat that Koenecke liked. Also visible on the back of the bat are multiple nails, showing how players in those days did everything to repair their favorite bats.

Click here to read the New York Times' account of that fateful flight.

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Another player who died during the season was Ray Chapman. Chapman succumbed to a Carl Mays pitch that hit him in the head. See the petition signed by Chapman’s teammates stating that they wouldn't play against Mays again.