Mark Grace: Died At Fantasy Camp? That’s $2 Fine

Dan Bickley of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC with a gem of a column today. Lede:

Don Schulz died at Fantasy Camp, fined $2 by Mark Grace

The dawn of baseball season seemed so bright. The Diamondbacks had reunited with Gonzo (Luis Gonzalez), now a club employee. They had refitted with some deft moves from their general manager, adding the spice of promise to spring training. And then Donald Schulz, a converted Cubs fan, simply stole the moment.

He went out and died in fantasy camp.

“He was just a good old Chicago boy,” Diamondbacks broadcaster Mark Grace said. “And it just sucked.”

Save the tears. This is not a sad story.

Former IRS Agent Schulz was a 75-year-old widower who was already a wreck, reduced to non-participation because of heart problems that resulted in a pacemaker.

But that only meant that Schulz could focus more attention of what he did best: preside over the camp’s Kangaroo Court with Grace.

Schulzie would often monopolize kangaroo court, bringing case after case before the exasperated judge. He couldn’t get Matt Mantei’s name right, calling him “Monty” instead. And then came the day when he walked naked through the clubhouse, right behind a television crew doing a live shot from camp, a moment forever seared on my brain.

Schulzie was 75 when it all went down on Jan. 10, and not in good health. He had a triple bypass heart surgery in 2007. He had a pacemaker installed last year. Rumor has it he was once revived from the brink, and responded by saying, “What the hell did you do that for?”

“That was Aug. 3rd, 2009,” said his son, Tod. “He flat-lined prior to me getting to the hospital, and had signed paperwork to not revive or resuscitate. I did not know that. They asked me if I wanted to be with him when he goes. The nurse motioned me to the bed. I grabbed his hand. I said, ‘Dad! Dad!’ The second time, his eyes popped open, and his heart started again. He chewed me out for that.”

Shortly after the start of the Diamondbacks 2010 camp, the fourth for Schulz, he passed away in his room,

“There’s a country music song we play about going out with your boots on,” said Tim Hattrick, a longtime camper and co-host of the popular Tim & Willy show. “Schulzie went out with his cleats on. For that, he’ll always be a legend.”

Still, he needed a proper sendoff, and it came the following morning. Grace strolled into the lunch room in a black robe and wig, the sense of pall hanging heavy. Schulz’s uniform was in the room. A truly disgusting picture of Hattrick kissing Schulz’s sagging breast was taped to the wall. And when kangaroo court came to order, Grace promptly fined Schulz $2 for having the temerity to die in fantasy camp.

“Had to do it,” Grace said. “But there was a tear in my eye.”

The judge pounded his gavel. And somewhere above, the old man was howling with laughter, guaranteed.

This non-PC piece by Bickley reminds me of something you’d read in the ’70s, not 2010. What’s the odds at least one member of the PC police at the Republic blanched when he/she saw the column?

Now if he can only get the real cause of death: dude had just dipped into Gonzalez’s medicine cabinet.