SI Vault
 
Mourning Glory
CHRIS BALLARD
October 22, 2012
Deep in the heart of Maryland, not far from Baltimore and Washington, there was another story of baseball magic, this one mixed with tragedy—two deaths, three years apart—that ended with the realization of a seemingly impossible dream
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
October 22, 2012

Mourning Glory

Deep in the heart of Maryland, not far from Baltimore and Washington, there was another story of baseball magic, this one mixed with tragedy—two deaths, three years apart—that ended with the realization of a seemingly impossible dream

View CoverRead All Articles
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None of that mattered at the moment, though. All that mattered was what Ryan was now telling Warrenfeltz: Brendon and Sam were dead. It had happened again.

Grief washed over Warrenfeltz. He thought of the families, the school and the town. More than anything, though, he thought about his team. The players would be looking to him for guidance, to explain the unexplainable. At 5:45, Warrenfeltz began calling his assistants. Then, just before sunrise, he sent a text message to all the players. All it said was, "I love you guys. I'll be at the field if you need me."

One by one the players arrived on Sunday morning: Zach with his father, centerfielder Tyler Nally with his dad, first baseman Tyler Byers with his parents. Some of the boys had known for hours; others were just finding out. Of all the players it was Zach, the sturdy, power-hitting senior, who had borne the greatest load during the night. He'd been the first player to arrive at the scene of the accident, the one who woke Chad Colliflower with a phone call and drove to tell Ryan the news.

As the sun rose on a clear spring day, more cars pulled up: parents, friends, other students and alumni, more than 150 people in all. They came to the field, as they had after Adenhart's death, because it seemed the right place to go. Some stood around the mound, others lingered in the dugout with Warrenfeltz and his wife, Stephanie. That the town came out wasn't surprising. Everyone knew Brendon and Sam, just as everybody had known Nick. Their successes were communal successes. That's why those men parked their pickups in the grass beyond leftfield, sometimes three trucks deep, drinking tallboys and honking when the Wildcats scored.

Warrenfeltz thought about this when he finally left the field on Sunday around 1 p.m. He was conflicted. Monday's game, the last of the regular season, would be canceled. Should the team even practice? Would it be wrong to play baseball now? Or wrong not to? Needing counsel, he headed where he'd always gone: his parents' house. Only when he arrived, he was shocked to see who was sitting in the living room.

It was by a fluke that Nick's mom, Janet Gigeous, was in town that day. It had been years since she and Nick's father had separated. She spent most of the year in Florida now, but she still had ties to Williamsport and had come up for the weekend with her husband, Duane. Which is how Janet, one of the only people on the planet who knew what Warrenfeltz was going through, came to be at his father's house that afternoon.

For an hour the six of them talked and grieved: Janet and Duane, David's parents and David and Stephanie, a tall, lanky former lacrosse player who'd been with him the day Adenhart died, back when she was David's girlfriend.

By the time David left, he knew what he needed to do. He sent a text to the boys. There would be no practice on Monday, it said, but he and the other coaches would be at the field after school.

What Zach Lucas remembers most is how quiet it was at school on Monday. Most students didn't even go to class; they just huddled near the gym, where an impromptu shrine to Brendon and Sam grew on the cork bulletin board: photos of Sam in her familiar number 2 volleyball shirt, of Brendon in a goofy pose when he entered a Ping-Pong tournament, of the two of them at the prom. Everywhere Zach looked he saw flowers, many of them blue or white, the school colors.

At 3:15 p.m. Warrenfeltz made his way down to the field. To an outsider it wasn't much to look at: bumpy green grass bordered by chain-link fencing, two concrete dugouts with skinny benches and, off each foul line, a set of metal bleachers. The tiny pressroom behind home plate, up a set of vertiginous wood steps, was hot and dark. Regardless, Warrenfeltz loved it there. He went to the field two or three times a day in the summer and at 3 p.m. during the school year, after he finished his day job as a third-grade teacher at Fountaindale Elementary. He turned on the sprinklers and planted seeds, locking the fence during the summer so kids didn't tear up the surface. If it began to rain, he could make it from his house in seven minutes flat to lay out the tarps. And on the rare occasions that he traveled out of town, he left a list of tasks for his father to perform. As he sometimes joked, "Since I don't have any children yet, this is kind of like my child."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10