The Death of Cleveland Indian Cliff Young

The Indians’ tragedy during the spring training of 1993 overshadowed the death in early November that year of Cliff Young. The Los Angeles Times of November 6, 1993, reported:

The American League team’s star-crossed year took another tragic turn when a truck driven by left-handed pitcher Cliff Young crashed into a tree Thursday night near his hometown of Willis, Tex., killing him instantly.

“I had that same heart-wrenching feeling of sorrow and helplessness,” General Manager John Hart said Friday. “We are looking forward to calendar year 1993 going away. You just shake your head and you wonder, why is this happening?”

Young, 29, was on his way to pick up a relative from a dance class about 9:30 p.m. when his four-wheel-drive truck veered off a winding road, hit a tree and flipped over.

The accident occurred between the towns of Willis and Conroe, about an hour north of Houston.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety reports, Young-who was not wearing a seat belt-was thrown halfway through the sunroof and was dead at the scene. A passenger, 26-year-old John Wilkerson, was wearing a seat belt and received only minor cuts and abrasions.

John Fain, a trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Wilkerson told authorities that Young was trying to light a cigarette when the accident occurred.

“The passenger stated that Cliff Young was reaching over to light a cigarette and he probably took his eyes off the road about the time it veered off,” Fain said. “That’s all I really have to go by.”

Young appeared in 21 games for the Indians in 1993, seven as a starter. He was 3-3 with one save and a 4.62 earned-run average before undergoing season-ending surgery Aug. 13 to have bone chips removed from his left elbow.

He became a free agent at the end of the season, but the Indians were negotiating to retain him. He spent most of the previous 10 years in the minors with the Montreal, Toronto, Oakland and Angel organizations, going 2-1 with a 3.74 ERA in 28 major league relief appearances with the Angels in 1990 and 1991.

Young is survived by his wife and two sons, Clifford Jr. and Cameron.

On the 8th, the Washington Post reported on his funeral:

Cliff Young was remembered yesterday as a man who gave his all to baseball and his family and was idolized by the youths in his hometown.

“What can you really say at a time like this?” Indians Manager Mike Hargrove said. “A man you’ve been through a hot summer with is now gone.”

Young’s widow, Tamara, 24, attended the service with the couple’s two sons, ages 6 and 3.

Published in: on December 13, 2008 at 9:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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