John Trautwein: Life Teammates on Both Sides of the Field – Part I

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. In recognition of Father’s Day, the following is the first of a two part series written by John Trautwein, author of  My Living Will: A Father’s Story of Loss & Hope.”
As a former pitcher who toed the rubber at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox, Trautwein has realized euphoric joy. As a father, who lost his 15 year old son, Will, to depression and suicide, he also knows depths of unimaginable pain. Out of this tragedy, Trautwein and his wife Susan created the Will to Live Foundation to raise awareness about teen suicide. The following is a story Trautwein shared from his work. 

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John Trautwein pitched for the 1988 Boston Red Sox.
Image credit: Fleer Inc

It was a cold and snowy late January Saturday evening in Chicago. In fact it was “Super Bowl Eve 2015” and I found myself at an old hangout of mine in my home town of Barrington IL, called Chessies. I was surrounded by some of the oldest and best friends I’ve ever had. They were there to see me and help promote my new book, My Living Will:  A Father’s Story of Loss & Hopethat had been released just one month before.

It was my first book signing of my short career as an author, and old friends, and their families, had come out to see me, purchase my book and simply talk about the old days – a mini-high school reunion of sorts. Several old high school baseball coaches were there, my brother and his friends were there – so many of my high school classmates were there – my life friends – my Life Teammates.

My Living Will is the story of my life after the tragic suicide death of my oldest child, my son Will. The book explains how when he died in October of 2010, I thought my life was over – I thought I’d never feel love again- but my family and my friends quickly proved me wrong. They picked me up and not only showed me the good but inspired me to create the non-profit Will To Live Foundation, that would inspire teenagers to reach out and recognize the true love they have in their friends today. Life friends – I now refer to them as Life Teammates. So here I was – with my Life Teammates, so many of them, and I was so pleased to be with them. So many hugs and “Love Ya Mans” exclaimed throughout the evening.

Trautwein coverWhat made that night very special was the fact it was a blizzard outside. In fact, I would end up being stranded in Chicago for two more days as the snow simply refused to stop falling. A great problem to have – as my brother and I would have a great weekend together, something we had not done for years. Around 8pm that evening, with the snow literally pounding down upon us, I looked around the room at so many old friends, and noticed a new face coming towards me.

“Hey John – do you remember me?” – a tall dark haired man, about my age, was smiling a friendly and hopeful smile as he awaited for my reply. Fortunately, he was kind enough to quickly eliminate my feelings of embarrassment for not recognizing him and he said “John, I’m Tom Conlin”

“Tom Conlin!!!!! I practically yelled, “From Hersey High?” He smiled and I hugged him in absolute shock. “Now way – What are you doing here, do you live in Barrington Tom?”

“Nope, it took me a long time to get here due to the snow, but I wanted to see you John, I saw the article in the paper about your story and the loss of your son – and that you were doing the book signing here – and I wanted to see you… I have kids, teenagers, and well… your story moved me – and I wanted you to know how sorry I am and how proud I am of what you’re doing.”

I had to sit down, I was stunned – I wiped some tears away from my eyes and I notice Tom doing the same. He and I were rival baseball players in high school – some thirty years before. Pretty big time rivals in fact. My senior year at Barrington, as a Pitcher I was 10-2 – ten wins and 2 losses, both losses were to Hersey High and their star pitcher – Mr. Tom Conlin. “I hated that guy” I used to think. I hated him in a way a rival hates someone he can’t seem to beat – but I also respected him because he was very good, and I was almost bummed to find out what a great guy he was when we met at the All Star Game after the season ended. I went on to pitch at Northwestern and he pitched at Notre Dame. Our paths crossed our senior year in college and he beat us, but this time, at least I was not the pitcher.

Suffering from depression, 15 year old Will Trautwein took his life on Oct. 10, 2010 .

Suffering from depression, 15 year old Will Trautwein took his life on Oct. 10, 2010 .

We talked a bit further, he bought a book and I signed it for him. He had to get home before the blizzard just got too crazy. We exchanged business cards, hugged again, and I noticed a slight smile on his face, I believe he was very pleased he had made the effort to come see me. I think he knew he really made my night – and I think that made him feel good – at least I hope it did. I was touched, so touched that I called my father that night in Florida and told him the story and he remembered Tom “He was a great pitcher John – that is so great – what a story!”

Read Part II of Trautwein’s story, June 22 on the WestBow Press blog.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.

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