Coach Sean Schultz and his son Ben on a bad hair day a few years back (Photo courtesy of Schultz family)
That guy in the picture above -- you probably have never met him or heard of him. His name is Sean Schultz, and I devote a very long column to him and a baseball team he coached in Sunday's Charlotte Observer.
Schultz died at age 40 on Sept.14, of a massive heart attack, while pitching batting practice to his team of 9-year-olds in the Myers Park Trinity Little League in Charlotte.
Coach Sean had a wife and a 9-year-old son on that team. I found out about his story in small bits. First, my wife saw Schultz's well-written obituary in our newspaper (it turned out his wife Kaaren had written it).
My wife pointed this obituary out to me. The first thing that struck me -- besides the fact that Schultz was close to my age and that he coached youth sports as I do -- was that the funeral was scheduled for 1:23 p.m.
Why 1:23?? I thought. What a strange time to start a funeral.
Well, there was a story behind that time (1-2-3 had been a code for Sean and his wife that meant "I love you"). And there turned out to be a whole lot more to Sean Schultz, who was the sort of coach in youth sports that all of us want our kids to have.
In any case, the story of Sean Schultz's life, death and the gifts that he passed along before he died constitutes quite a tale.
I'm sure I didn't tell it as well as it could have been told, but it was a pleasure to work on. And I thank the Schultz family -- especially Kaaren and Ben Schultz -- for trusting me enough to tell it.