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Late-Arriving Lynn Ineligible for Postseason

Associated Press

Outfielder Fred Lynn, obtained by the Detroit Tigers for the stretch drive, cannot qualify for postseason play because he missed a deadline for reporting to the club by 10 minutes, team officials said Thursday.

“It’s not even a question of ‘may not’ be eligible,” Tiger spokesman Greg Shea said. “He is not.”

Major league rules specify that a player must report to his new club by midnight local time Aug. 31 to qualify for postseason play.

If the player is traveling by airplane to join his new team, the pilot at least must make contact by midnight Aug. 31 with the airport to which he is flying, Shea said.

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The Tigers obtained Lynn from the Baltimore Orioles for three minor league players in a deal closed between 4 and 5 p.m., PDT, Wednesday. The club chartered a plane to fly Lynn from Ontario International Airport to O’Hare Airport in Chicago, where the Tigers were playing the White Sox.

“We tried as best we could,” Lynn said Thursday night at Tiger Stadium before Detroit’s game with the Milwaukee Brewers. “Unfortunately, I was in Anaheim, and the plane was at Ontario,” about 25 miles away.

“But Southern California traffic at that time of the afternoon is pretty tough going,” he said. “It was rush hour, and you can’t get anywhere at that time without a helicopter.”

The plane left Ontario on a flight expected to reach Chicago by 12 a.m., CDT, Thursday, Shea said. But the pilot could not contact the O’Hare tower until 12:10 a.m., CDT, and did not land the plane until 12:30 a.m., CDT, he said--meaning Lynn missed the deadline for postseason eligibility by 10 minutes.

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Lynn said the pilot began trying to make contact with the O’Hare tower about 11:40 p.m., CDT, but was too far away.

“Maybe if we’d had a telephone, instead of a radio on board, we could have reached them,” Lynn said. “We did everything humanly possible to get there . . . but the tailwinds just weren’t big enough for us.”

A commercial flight leaving Los Angeles at 1:40 p.m., PDT, Wednesday likely would have reached Chicago before midnight, Tiger General Manager Bill Lajoie said. Lynn could have made that flight but initially balked at the deal, citing a no-trade clause in his Baltimore contract.

By the time Lynn changed his mind and agreed to the trade, the Tigers had no choice but to charter the jet and hope to get him to Chicago in time.

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“We knew it was going to be close, and we didn’t quite make it,” he said.


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