Ex-Oriole Jim Hardin is killed in plane crash


Former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Hardin was among three people killed when their small plane crashed nose-first into a shopping-center parking lot in Key West, Fla., police said yesterday.

Hardin, was piloting the single-engine Beechcraft when it developed engine trouble in stiff cross-winds after taking off from Key West International Airport Saturday night, Key West Police dispatcher Tres Carnevale said.

Also killed were James R. Bond, 40, of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., and Dr. Mark Wein, 35, of West Palm Beach, Fla., Carnevale said. The three men were returning to West Palm Beach, where Hardin, 47, worked for Xerox.

They had been on a fishing trip in Key West, where Hardin keeps a boat, friends said. A cooler of fresh fish was found in the back of the crumpled plane.

Hardin radioed the control tower and reported engine problems just before the 7:49 p.m. crash, the National Transportation Safety Board said. The plane rose to about 500 feet but crashed within two minutes of taking off, less than two miles from the airport.

Hardin pitched for Baltimore from 1967-71 and later played for the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves before retiring in 1972. His best season came in 1968, when he was 18-13 in his second major-league season.

* PHILLIES: Len Dykstra is to testify this week in the federal-court trial of a man accused of running illegal poker games and who picked up $50,000 worth of gambling markers for the player.

Dykstra, an All-Star who batted .325 last season, said the testimony in Jackson, Miss., will have nothing to do with baseball.

* BRAVES: Pitcher John Smoltz reported back to camp after a two-day absence. The 23-year-old right-hander, who left camp Friday when the Braves renewed his contract for $360,000 after he asked for $450,000, will start today against the New York Yankees.

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