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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Some Harrowing, Some Heartbreaking

With each of the players in the CMC set, there was always some kind of story of their careers on the field.

With some of them, though, came stories from off the field, stories that were sometimes harrowing, sometimes heartbreaking.

The one that fits both the harrowing and heartbreaking descriptions is the story of John Mitchell.

Mitchell was a member of the 1990 Rochester Red Wings and ultimately played in five major league seasons. Seven years earlier, though, Mitchell was playing in the fall instructional league when he went out on a fishing trip with two teammates and the owner of the boat.

The boat capsized. The boat owner and one of Mitchell's teammates didn't make it. The other teammate survived, spending 20 hours in the water. Mitchell spent 22.

"Someday," Mitchell told The Boston Globe days after the accident, "this is going to be very, very difficult to live with. But right now, we're just glad to be alive."

Ed Quijada, member of the 1990 Asheville Tourists, was glad to be alive, after an accident that came after the end of his playing career.

Quijada ended up playing seven seasons as a pro, never making the majors.

In 2009, though, Quijada survived a car accident. The result, though, was that he was paralyzed from the neck down. The man who once was paid to play baseball worked his hardest to regain as much movement as he could.

"From the day I woke up from this accident," Quijada told an interviewer in a video posted in November 2009, "I said, I just basically said 'Game on. It's another game.' My whole life has always been around games. I said, you know, let this be a game."

John Trautwein's story turned heartbreaking in 2010, when he and his wife lost their son to suicide.

Trautwein, a member of the 1990 Pawtucket Red Sox, played seven seasons as a pro, making the majors in 1988, for nine relief outings with the Red Sox.

In October 2010, Trautwein's 15-year-old son Will committed suicide. Trautwein has dedicated his life since to preventing teen suicide, starting the Will to Live Foundation.

"We found him Friday morning," Trautwein told The Boston Globe in February 2011, "and on Saturday I was asking people to write a check for his foundation, and the next week I was talking to groups of kids. The competitor in me doesn't like losing, so in some ways, Will is motivating me now. People are starving for this message."

For Jeff Hoffman, a member of the 1990 Greensboro Hornets, he appeared to be on a trejectory to make the majors. But he didn't survive to make it there, a heart ailment taking his life in 1992, at the age of 24.

Hoffman that year was playing at AA Albany-Colonie. On a road trip to Binghamton, Hoffman passed away in his hotel room.

In the team's first game back after his passing, Albany won.

"I think I speak for the whole team, this is the best win I've ever experienced," A-C Yankee Russell Davis told The Schenectady Daily Gazette after singling home the winning run in the 10th. "I didn't want to play, but we told ourselves we had to go out there and suck it up because that's what Jeff would have wanted."

Hoffman would appear to have been the first member of the CMC set to pass away. In the years since, at least 18 others have, as well.

CMC set members who have passed away: Oscar Azocar; Jim Beauchamp; Greg Biagini; Clete Boyer; Andujar Cedeno; Francisco de la Rosa; Moe Drabowsky; Howard HiltonJeff Hoffman; Ron Jones; Tommy JonesDarryl KileDwight Lowry; John Marzano; Frank Mattox; Gar Millay; Aurelio Rodriguez; Russ Swan; Cliff Young

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