Stengel and his Oakland Oaks, who had lost farmhands Picetti, Paterson and Kinnaman, played a memorial benefit game at Spokane's Ferris Field against the Seattle Rainiers on July 8. The game raised $24,257, thanks in part to Bing Crosby—a native of Washington and an alumnus of Gonzaga University in Spokane—who bought $2,500 worth of tickets to give to servicemen and also donated another $1,000.
The Indians did not resume play until the Fourth of July, 10 days after the crash. Of the original team, only Cadinha, Faria and, eventually, Hallbourg were able to play again that season. Wright was asked to manage again for what remained of the season, relying largely on players called in from other teams. Playing 10 to 12 fewer games than the other Western International League teams, the Indians finished seventh, 29 games behind the pennant-winning Wenatchee Chiefs.
Hallbourg, 5-1 before the accident, missed nearly six weeks recovering from his injuries. After he returned to the Indians, he finished the season with a record of 7-6. He held on in baseball for another two years, then quit at the age of 28 to work for the telephone company in Stockton, Calif. He retired 32 years later as a supply supervisor and now lives in Manteca, where he gardens and plays golf with his wife, Roberta.
Cadinha, the ace of the Spokane staff, was 8-6 the rest of the season, finishing with a 16-7 record. "It was hard to win after the accident," he says. At the end of the season he was sold to the Pacific Coast League's Hollywood Stars, a first step toward the big leagues. But pitching in a semipro league in the Bay Area that winter, he broke his arm throwing a screwball. He never pitched again. A retired insurance agent, he lives in Castro Valley, not 50 miles from Hallbourg. They rarely see each other.
McCormack, the Chief, tried a comeback with the Indians in 1947 but gave it up later that season. His old teammate and fellow survivor Geraghty managed the team to a second-place finish in '47, a season in which Spokane fans, making a heartfelt comeback themselves, set a Class B attendance record of 287,185. In a further irony, Camilli—who, had he stayed on as the Oakland manager, would probably not have sent Picetti to Spokane—managed the Indians to a pennant in 1948. Stengel, who had sent Picetti down, managed the Oaks to a Pacific Coast League pennant in '48 and then, as history informs us, was hired by the New York Yankees.
Lohrke hit .303 as San Diego's regular shortstop in the 92 games left of the '46 Pacific Coast League season and then was drafted by the New York Giants. He was the Giants' third baseman for much of the '47 season, hitting .240 in 112 games for a team that set a major league record of 221 home runs. Lohrke hit 11 himself, including the homer that tied the Yankees' old record of 182 and the one that broke it. But, he says, "with guys like Johnny Mize, Walker Cooper and Willard Marshall around, I was pretty much lost in the shuffle."
From the time he joined the Padres after the accident, Lohrke was called, for obvious reasons, "Lucky"—Lucky Lohrke, the ballplayer who got off the bus in the nick of time, the soldier bumped from the plane that crashed. The name stuck. Who else, after all, had more right to be called Lucky? He's in the Baseball Encyclopedia that way: Lucky Lohrke. An amiable man, he lived with the nickname, but he never liked it, never wanted to be reminded of how close he had come to riding that bus into oblivion. But what could he do about it?
Lohrke played in only 97 games for the Giants in 1948 and from then on was exclusively a utility player. He was warming up in the Giants' bullpen as a possible replacement at third base when Bobby Thomson hit "the shot heard round the world," which won the 1951 pennant. In the World Series that year against the Yankees, Lohrke struck out and popped up as a pinch hitter. He played for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1952 and '53, finishing a seven-year major league career with a .242 batting average, and then he returned to the coast league, where he played until his retirement from baseball in 1954. Now 70 and retired from his job as head of security for the Lockheed Corporation in Silicon Valley, Lohrke lives in San Jose with his wife, Marie, whom he married 46 years ago.
After a bus carrying the California Angels crashed on the New Jersey Turnpike on May 21, 1992, causing some serious injuries but no deaths, Lohrke was sought out once more by newspapers and television stations to recall his own narrow escape...or escapes. He willingly cooperated, agreeing with interviewers that he is indeed a lucky man. Lucky Lohrke.
But the memory pains him. "When you're the age I was back then," he says, "you haven't got a worry in the world. You're playing ball because you want to play—and they're giving you money to do it. And then...well, sometimes those names spring back at me."