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The Ripples from Little Lake Nellie
Gary Smith
July 12, 1993
Four months after Cleveland Indian pitchers Tim Crews and Steve Olin died in a boating accident, their families and friends are coming to grips with the grief that still washes over them
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July 12, 1993

The Ripples From Little Lake Nellie

Four months after Cleveland Indian pitchers Tim Crews and Steve Olin died in a boating accident, their families and friends are coming to grips with the grief that still washes over them

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Laurie and her kids came to spend a week in June at Patti's house just outside Cleveland. Six little kids running and crawling everywhere. Two women chasing them. It was brutal. It was great. It was nuts. Laurie gave Patti pep talks: You're so smart, so tough, so pretty, all you need is a direction. Get a job, anything for a while, volunteer, go back to school, get out of the house. Then Laurie broke down after they went to a ball game together, and she realized she needed Patti even more than she had thought.

They got a baby-sitter and went to Bobby's. He opened the door. He had said he was coming back, but those eyes.... Laurie walked right up to him, punched him in the arm and kicked him in the butt. Patti said it in a different way. "If you quit, Bobby," she said, "why can't we?"

She could say that to him. After all, she would say, they were family. One night Patti went to see Indian Summer. On the screen, staring out at a lake, was a woman—just about Patti's age, Patti's hair color—whose husband had died a year before. A man was telling the young widow about a lady who used to live on the shore whose husband had died too and been buried in the middle of the lake. "Poor woman," the man was saying to the young widow. "Spending the last 15 years of her life waiting to die, so she could go into the lake with her husband. Fifteen years of her life she wasted. We might as well have just thrown her in the lake the same day as her husband."

Patti blinked. She felt it coming, in her chest, in her throat, in her eyes, right there in a theater, in front of everybody. She glanced to one side. A hand had been waiting there beside her, she realized, even before the man had finished saying that. Bobby's hand. Bobby's Kleenex.

There are black and white pipes, bundles of wires, scabbed paint and fluorescent bulbs glaring on it all in the tunnel leading to the home dugout at Cleveland Stadium. On a gray, sweltering afternoon, five hours before a night game on June 25, Bobby Ojeda walked in a Cleveland Indian uniform down the tunnel, into the dugout, out of seclusion. The cameras snapped. The microphones leaned. The tape recorders clicked on. He said it had to be done.

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