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Cubs’ Ken Hubbs Killed in Plane Crash

Feb. 15, 1964 - Ken Hubbs, 22, star second baseman for the Chicago Cubs, and a companion were found dead today in the wreckage of a light plane that plunged into a Utah lake. Hubbs, a tall, quiet fellow whose sure hands brought him top honors two years ago as National League rookie of the year, and his life-long friend, Dennis Doyle, 22, were killed instantly.

The wreckage was found 48 hours after the two took off on a return flight from Provo airport to their hometown of Colton, Calif. Hubbs and Doyle were flying home after participating in a basketball tournament at Provo sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hubbs bought the plane last year and obtained his pilot’s license two weeks ago.

“The plane hit with terrific force in a steep spiral,” said Harlan Bement, Utah aeronautics director. He said the crash occurred three minutes after Hubbs left Provo airport in his new single-engine Cessna 172. Bement said it was not certain whether Hubbs attempted to turn back to the airport before the plane went out of control. An investigation was ordered by the civil aeronautics board, Federal Aviation Agency, and state. Hubbs and Doyle took off into a snowstorm. Bement described the weather as “very unfavorable for flying.”

Cubs athletic director Bob Whitlow, speaking for the organization, said: “It’s a tragic blow to all of us. Our condolences go out first to his family. We haven’t thought of anything beyond that.” Whitlow said the Cubs were aware of Hubbs’ ambitions to take flying lessons this winter. The organization registered no objection. “You can’t regulate everything a fellow does in the off season,” Whitlow said.

When Hubbs completed student training, the flight instructor rated him as an “excellent student, none better,” Hubbs’s grief-stricken father said today. The father, Eulis Hubbs, an insurance broker in Colton, Calif., thanked rescuers for their intensive air search.

Ken Hubbs held two major league fielding records, both set in 1962. He played 78 consecutive games without an error and handled 418 chances during the stretch. He batted .262 in 1962 when he was rookie of the year, receiving 19 of a possible 20 votes.


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