If Lidle was pilot, beneficiaries could lose $1.5M benefit

NEW YORK -- Cory Lidle's beneficiaries could lose out on a $1.5 million payout from baseball's benefit plan if it's determined that he was piloting his plane when it crashed into a Manhattan high-rise condominium.

While Lidle wasn't a member of the Major League Baseball Players Association licensing plan because he was a replacement player during the 1994-95 strike, the New York Yankees pitcher was covered by the union's benefit plan.

The plan calls for a $450,000 life insurance benefit and has an accidental death benefit of $1.05 million. However, the plan -- which applies to all big leaguers -- contains an exclusion for "any incident related to travel in an aircraft ... while acting in any capacity other than as a passenger."

Lidle and his flight instructor, Tyler Stanger, were killed Wednesday when Lidle's four-seat Cirrus SR20 crashed into a building on the Upper East Side. While Lidle was the registered owner of the aircraft, it has not been confirmed who was at the controls.

Lidle is survived by his wife, Melanie, and 6-year-old son, Christopher. The person he designated as his beneficiary was not immediately known.

In addition, Lidle's wife is entitled to a widow's benefit under baseball's plan.

Lidle had nine years, 100 days of major league service -- 72 days shy of being fully vested. Because of that, his wife would be entitled to about $165,000 to $170,000 annually, which is 95 percent of the maximum, an amount indexed for inflation. There is an additional dependent benefit.

Lidle had just completed a $6.3 million, two-year contract that he signed with Philadelphia prior to the 2005 season.