Yankees ornament features Santa in plane

NEW YORK -- An advertisement for a New York Yankees holiday ornament featuring a plane-flying Santa Claus, released days before Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle died in a plane crash, is being chalked up to a case of extremely bad timing.

"My reaction at first was, 'I don't believe it,'" Yankees season ticket holder Denis Guerin told the New York Post.

"I don't think it was intentional ... It's just a terrible mistake and terrible coincidence"
-- Denis Guerin

The advertisement for the ornament shows a smiling Yankees Santa Claus flying a plane, the newspaper said.

The ad reads "The 2006 Annual Yankees Ornament makes the ideal gift for every New York fan on your Christmas list," the Post said. "Your team spirit will soar" with the plane on your tree, it added.

"We looked at it with our mouths open and said, 'How could this have happened?' It's very insensitive," Guerin told the newspaper. "I don't think it was intentional ... It's just a terrible mistake and terrible coincidence."

A circular ad for the ornament also appeared in Sunday, Oct. 8 editions of Newsday -- three days before the Oct. 11 crash on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that killed Lidle and his flight instructor.

The Danbury Mint, which made the collectable, had planned to produce and sell the ornament well in advance, Ruth Wolf, co-owner of a gift and collectibles store in Merrick, N.Y., told Newsday earlier this month.

"They're caught between a rock and hard place," Wolf told Newsday. "If they don't prepare and sponsor the ad within a certain time frame, they could lose weeks and weeks" of sales, she said.

A Major League Baseball spokesman called it a case of bad timing.

"All I would say is, the timing's unfortunate," MLB spokesman Rich Levin told the Post. "I'm sure this was done well before the Cory Lidle incident."