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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Russell Alan Sartain, 1951-2006

Russ Sartain died January 13, the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Galveston. He was buried today in the most heavily attended funeral I have ever witnessed. He coached me in Little League for several years. I wouldn't say I knew him well, but the man who called me "Mattholomew" made a big, positive impact on my life. I was never a good baseball player; accordingly, I was usually relegated to right field. Regardless, when draft time came around every year, Coach Sartain skipped better players in order to keep me on the Zebras with my friends. Coach Sartain was a master at balancing the seemingly contradictory tasks of a Little League coach: he instilled a desire to win, a dedication to fair play, development of his players, and fun. He was a fine example of the Little League Pledge:
I trust in God I love my country And will respect its laws I will play fair And strive to win But win or lose I will always do my best
I don't remember many specific games, or big plays or end-of-the-season parties. What I remember is his words. I remember him writing "GF" on the roster after an absent player's name, signifying that the kid had "Gone Fishing." I remember him meeting my friend Lorne (who was named for Lorne Greene), then joking "I guess your folks were watching Bonanza that night." I remember that he always called the Astros (one of the better teams in our league) the "Half-Astros." Most of all, I remember his declaration that "a good excuse is still an excuse" and to this day I try to remind myself of that. Thanks, Coach. So let us commend our brother to the Lord, that the Lord may embrace him in peace, and raise up his body on the last day. Amen.

2 Comments:

At 1/17/2006 6:01 PM, Anonymous Eric Berger said...

Matt,

Now that's a touching remembrance. I, too, played little league, and it was a credit to the coaches who made those of us, uhh, less-talented players feel just as much a part of the team as the better players.

I hope his family sees this.

 
At 1/22/2006 8:19 PM, Anonymous nancy sartain said...

Matt, I'm not very computer literate but Boo, Russ' oldest forwarded your Google comments and told me how to get to it. What you said is so great. I would like your permission to edit it to fit on the thank you notes and use it as a part of my notes. Let me know how you feel about this. Thank you so much. Nancy Sartain

 

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