Baseball coach’s daughter thankful her dad wasn’t on collapsed bridge
“Papa, you could have been on that bridge and got killed,” the Roseville, Minn., church member’s 5-year-old daughter, Sarah, told her father. “I’m so thankful that you were at the ballpark.”
The Twins bench coach, whose daughter and sons, Ben, 12, and Jake, 8, were asleep when he arrived home that night, had extra reason to hug and kiss them the next day.
Each day, Liddle would take the eight-lane Interstate 35W bridge to work at the Metrodome and back home.
He did so, as usual, Aug. 1. About four hours later, the bridge broke apart.
“We were getting ready to go out on the field, and somebody came in andsaid, ‘Hey, the bridge has collapsed,’” Liddle told The ChristianChronicle.
Amid the initial shock, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire — who alsotraveled the bridge daily — said the team should cancel that night’sgame with the Kansas City Royals. “Our thoughts should be elsewhere,”Liddle remembered Gardenhire saying.
But with about 25,000 fans already at the ballpark, officials urged theTwins to play rather than add to traffic congestion by sending fanshome early.
Immediately after the bridge collapse, Liddle was able to call hiswife, Anne, check on his family and let her know he was OK. With cellphone signals jammed, other coaches and players had difficultydetermining whether relatives were all right.
“I remember one of the clubhouse guys coming down to (center fielder)Torii Hunter about the third inning saying his wife was fine,” saidLiddle, a Nashville, Tenn., native who played catcher on LipscombUniversity’s 1979 NAIA national championship team.
Liddle said the tragedy helped put baseball in perspective.