Careers Cut Short

Mark Maske writes in the Washington Post this morning on the Michael Vick plea, “it is difficult to find a greater non-injury-related demise of a top American professional athlete in the prime of his career.”

In the way of blameless tragedies, Lou Gehrig, Roberto Clemente, and Harry Agganis deserve mention.

Pelle Lindburgh was one of the NHL’s top goalies for one of its better teams when he died in a drunk driving accident.

But as for Vick-like misbehavior, the first person to come to mind was Ed Delahanty.  He was a triple crown threat, a guy who hit four homers in a game in the dead ball era, a lifetime .376 hitter, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1945.

He died in the middle of the season in 1903, falling over Niagara Falls after being ejected from a train for threatening other passengers.

Even before that tragic incident, he had a reputation for… well, here’s how a New York Times writer put it, from the same link as above: “Men who met Ed Delahanty had to admit he was a handsome fellow, although there was an air about him that indicated he was a roughneck at heart and no man to temper with. He had that wide-eyed, half-smiling, ready-for-anything look that is characteristic of a certain type of Irishman. He had a towering impatience, too, and a taste for liquor and excitement.”

So things could be worse for Michael Vick.

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