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Tragedy struck Angels before

Two other young prospects who spent time with the Angels' Salt Lake farm club also lost their lives in automobile accidents.

Mike Miley, a promising infielder, was involved in a one-car accident the night of Jan. 6, 1977. The 23-year-old, having returned to his college town of Baton Rouge, La., was thrown from the vehicle and killed instantly when his own car ran over him. The former Louisiana State football player, who, as quarterback, led the Tigers to the 1973 Orange Bowl, had scored 60 runs while hitting .274 with six homers in his first season with the Salt Lake Gulls in 1976.

Three years earlier, Salt Lake minor league baseball pitcher Bruce Heinbechner was in Palm Springs, Calif., for spring training with the parent California Angels. At 11:20 p.m. PDT, Heinbechner was returning to the Gene Autry Hotel, the Angels' headquarters, when his 1966 Porsche veered over the center lane and collided into an oncoming vehicle. Heinbechner, a lefty who had gone 13-9 with the Salt Lake Angels in 1972 and 10-5 in 1973, was killed instantly. He, too, was 23.

— Laury Livsey