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Nov, 2015

In Memoriam - “A Shooting Star” - Charlie Donovan RIP

In Memoriam - “A Shooting Star” - Charlie Donovan RIP

Once in a very great while you will witness a shooting star, it is so brilliant in the summer sky that it completely captures you and pales all that surrounds it.  When you do, please stop and enjoy it.  Don’t project what will happen later, simply appreciate the gift you were given.  Thursday November 4th, was the most tragic day in Cardinals history.  As his father, Jim Donovan, so perfectly stated “With the heaviest possible heart we say goodbye to our beloved Charlie boy. You were a shooting star. I hope you find the peace you seek with God. You will be with us always. I love you forever.”  With a strength that very few could muster, Jim has graciously chronicled the events that culminated in Charlie’s decision to end his life, but that is his story and I encourage you to read it and think about it as your children deal with their successes and setbacks.

Words will never adequately embrace the sorrow and love we feel for the Donovan family.  Jim, Karen, Joe and Jack were and still are a significant part of our family and are loved dearly.  Jim Donovan was a founder of the Cardinals and architected our trainer lead philosophy and goal of teaching the game the right way.  No individual encapsulated that perspective more completely than his and Karen’s son Charlie.  Charlie played on our very first Cardinals team and played for us for two years.  When Charlie left the Cardinals, Jim and I talked, and we were thrilled to see Charlie move on to opportunities that more appropriately addressed his extreme talent.  We appreciated the opportunity to have had Charlie and the leadership he showed by example. He laid a foundation and became an incredible precedent setter and the consummate standard of excellence.  Charlie was the first Cardinal to commit to a college baseball program and the first and only Cardinal to be selected in the MLB draft.  This past spring, Charlie was also selected as the USA Today Gatorade Player of the Year for Illinois.   Always quiet and unassuming, Charlie competed as fiercely as anyone I have ever met, and did so with a skill set we are unlikely to ever see in this organization again.  But what was most impressive, is Charlie played with zero ego.  He was and remained throughout his life the ultimate team player.  All one needs to do is read the tearful statements by so many of Charlie’s former teammates, coaches and competitors to see how he was respected by his peers for the person he was and for how he played the game. 

What makes me saddest now, is how often I praised Charlie for his play and how rarely I spoke to him about what a terrific person he was.  For as good an athlete as Charlie was, he was an even finer young man.  That has made me think long and hard about myself and the program we are running here.  As we move forward, I hope we can take Charlie and use him as a lesson to all of us.  Let’s not get overly caught up in the day-to-day successes or challenges.  At this point, I don’t remember the specifics of a single game or championship Charlie led us to.  What I remember was the look in his eye, the smile on his face and the character he displayed.  As Charlie’s last gift to us, I hope it is a lesson on what is really important and what we can never cease to recognize and strive toward.  I only wish Charlie could have read what so many people thought of him.  How rarely it was the exceptional athletic talent, but rather the character, compassion and sweetness that will be most missed. 

You were a shooting star, the first and greatest Cardinal ever, we wish you peace and you will never be forgotten.  We love and miss you, rest well.

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