Death is such a difficult subject to address under almost any circumstance, and in a close knit family like professional baseball we hear about many who are lost. Everyone undoubtedly read about 10-year major league vet John Marzano passing away days ago after an at-home accident at the terribly young age of 45.
Two other deaths related to the Independent Baseball family probably have not been so widely reported, except in their immediate hometown or baseball circles.
I was touched by the passing of Fort Worth Cats President John Dittrich's dad, Bob, who was 83. John, who has a wide circle of friends in both the affiliated and unaffiliated baseball worlds, including this writer, found words while grieving to heap such deep praise on his father, who will be laid to rest in his hometown of Kankakee, IL Wednesday.
"He was a great man and a true American hero in every sense of the word," John wrote on his blog the day after his father died, pointing out that Bob and his wife of nearly 60 years, Margaret, raised four children "all who love and admire our parents to the degree that we would never want to disappoint them in even the smallest way...we were raised in a small town by people who presented us with strong, yet simple, clear values."
Well said, John.
Out in Rockford, IL, the RiverHawks of the Frontier League are trying to deal with the death of Jake Bowen, who was only 27 and had played the infield for their 2006 divisional championship team. Bowen died in a traffic accident in his hometown of Cedar Park, TX.
"The enduring memory I would have of Jake is of his exuberance, his outgoing personality every day, regardless of the situation," said hitting coach J. D. Arndt, who was the manager in '06. "...You just couldn't be in a bad mood around him."
That summer was young Bowen's only professional season, one in which Rockford drafted him from a Frontier League tryout camp.
The RiverHawks will wear a patch on their home jerseys all season as well as establishing a permanent memorial at Road Ranger Stadium.