sports team plane crash

I did 4 searches on various combinations of these keywords, and nothing came up, but I can’t belive nobody’s ever asked this one of the general masses, but at any rate . . .

What would happen if a plane carrying a pro-sports team crashed, no survivors? Do leagues have a quiet plan in place?

The Detroit Red Wings plane lost an engine last week, but landed safely in California. This was even a topic on Seinfeld once . . . anyone have any insights?

In the 1960’s a plane carrying none other then Manchester United went down killing almost all of them.

What did they do, you ask?

Opened up their wallets and bought a brand new, kick-ass team.

Hey mealy, I have absolutely NOTHING to back this up except to say that I THINK I SAW IT ON ESPN CLASSIC, but I understand that if an NFL team’s plane crashes and the team is dessimated, that all of the other teams give up two players and a draft pick to reconstruct the team. Or something to that effect.

Can anyone else help me out on this?


Just a WAG, but my guess is that if it happened in MLB the team’s AAA affiliate would get instant promotions to the Big Leagues, across-the-board.

For example, if the Cubs went down and all died, the AAA Iowa Cubs would all become the MLB Chicago Cubs. The AA Daytona (??) Cubs would all move up to AAA, and so on.

Just a WAG.

I remember reading (please don’t ask for a cite!) years ago that Major League Baseball planned for this with what they call (no euphemisms here!) a disaster draft. Each of the other teams would have to give up one or two players to restock the victim team.

Clearly, that would be an instant ticcket to last place, but it’s better than what happened to Marshall University in West Virginia. They lost an athletic team (I think it was football)in a plane crash and dropped out of competition in that sport for, IIRC, two years. This would have been somewhere around 1970, if you’re interested.

All of the major pro sports leagues in the US have emergency plans in case an entire team is wiped out by an accident of some kind.

Generally, the specifics are kept quiet because it’s considered a little too spooky to talk about. In each league (MLB, NLF, NBA, and NHL), there is a form of an expansion draft where the team that lost its players can pick certain players off of another team’s roster, although some players can be protected.

The Manchester United air crash.

There was an excellent article about this a long time ago in the now-defunct National Sports Daily, and everything that has been previously mentioned seems to jive with what is the case–the “disaster draft”, a quiet but real plan. They mentioned the Marshall football crash and some other scary incidents like when the Minneapolis Lakers’ plane almost crashed, when the roof of the Hartford Civic Center collapsed (no one was inside), etc.

Also, in 1961, a plane carrying the entire US Figure Skating Team crashed on the way to the World Championships. Hence, a lot of “minor leaguers” (so to speak) got their starts a lot earlier than they otherwise might have, including Peggy Fleming.


I believe the former Soviet Union lost an entire Red Army team in a snowy plane crash. Two or three of the greatest players in the Soviet Union, maybe the world, perished. It took them years to recover from the loss of talent.

I believe the Seinfeld reference to losing an entire team went something like this:

George rambles: All those sports teams flying all over the place…you’d figure one of them would crash eventually…"

I believe it was one of the Keith Hernandez episodes.

Does losing 41-0 in the playoffs count as “wiped out by an accident?”

We’ll see if it was an accident on Sunday. :smiley: Go Jints!

>>>>>For example, if the Cubs went down and all died, the AAA Iowa Cubs would all become the MLB Chicago Cubs. The AA Daytona (??) Cubs would all move up to AAA, and so on.<<<

So what you’re saying is that if all the Cubs were killed,they would have a better shot at the pennant?

into a cemetary just outside of West Lafayette, IN. So far, Purdue authorities have recovered over 500 bodies.

I remember way back (about 1980) when the U.S. Men’s boxing team went down in a plane crash. They had a mini draft/audition thing where they quickly and quietly replaced the team.

Quite frankly, I’m shocked and appalled that this far into this topic no one has brought up the story of Alive. I’d have thought people here would have the common decency to bring this up.

a bump with a relevant aside, thanks to a CNN article, “Two OSU players among 10 killed in plane crash” (today in Colorado):

Back to the OP.

In Major League Baseball, each league has a plan to restock with players if a team is catastrophiclly hit with injuries/deaths.

The American League has (or maybe had, see below) a plan as follows:

If at least five players were “totally disabled or worse” as a result of an accident, a replacement draft would be held. Each of the other teams would have to submit a list to the commissioner’s office of four players who will be eligible to be drafted. These players must have been on the major league roster on the date of the accident. The team then gets to pick from those players until it replaces the players it lost.

The National League plan was slightly different. It required six players to be “disabled” and each team left three players unprotected.

Of course, now that the National and American Leagues are no longer seperate business entities, I don’t know the current status of these plans.

Zev Steinhardt