I found out some sad news last night on MySpace of all places. On August 12th my former co-worker with the Grays Harbor Gulls baseball team, Mike Warchol, added me as a friend on MySpace. I wanted to catch up with him and see how he was doing but I put off writing him an email until I thought about it last night. What I didn’t know was that later that night after he added me as a friend, Mike passed away in his sleep. He was just 35 years-old.
Mike was an important person in my life because I worked extensively with him during my first job in baseball with the Gulls. I emailed the team one day during my freshman year of college inquiring if they had any positions available, basically to do anything, from interning to concession work. I didn’t care, I just wanted to work at a ballpark that summer. Mike emailed me back almost immediately and since I was at school at the time for media and radio journalism (I wanted to be a play-by-play guy), he thought it would be good for me to work with him doing public and media relations for the team along with all of the other crazy things that you have to do when you work in a small minor league front office.
It was Mike that taught me how to write a game recap, a press release, he let me do the radio updates (we didn’t have a full-time broadcast), compile stats and whatnot. For some teams this stuff isn’t that important, but for Mike it was. He was so passionate about the team and his job that he went kind of overboard, or as I prefer to call it, he did exactly the right amount of media and public relations that a baseball team should do and the newspaper and radio stations rewarded him for it by giving the Gulls very good coverage, probably the best of any team I have worked for. I developed my passion for writing (it doesn’t always shine through here, but it is there)and for baseball because of Mike and his passion and all that he taught me.
Mike left baseball when the Gulls folded, got married and moved to Vancouver, Washington and I lost track of him. But it came as no surprise to me when I found out that he continued his passion for writing and became a regular contributor to Rivals.com and he published WashingtonPreps.com, a very important and influential website devoted to Washington High School sports. He poured everything into those websites and devoted himself to helping kids get the recognition and coverage that they deserved and, from the looks of the comments, did a great job of it.
After learning of all the work and writing that he was doing, I was really eager to share my Sports Logo Pundit site with him, I thought he’d get a kick out of it at the very least. I came this close to firing an email off to him through MySpace before I did a little reading on his profile and came to the sad fact that he passed.
Mike was a great guy that did a lot of good for me and for others and I’ve always appreciated it. He will be missed. My thoughts go out to his wife and their children.
UPDATE: Here is a great article from The Vancouver Columbian about Mike that captures what he was all about.