All too often, the harshness of reality seeps into what Rock Cats owner Bill Dowling so aptly and eloquently calls "the toy department of life."
I received an e-mail from city employee Craig Bowman last night that former Rock Cats pitcher Brent Schoening, 31, passed away Sunday after a long battle with leukemia.
Schoening never made it to the big leagues. He came to New Britain during that wonderful 2001 season when the Cats, led by Michael Cuddyer, Dustan Mohr, Michael Restovich, Juan Rincon and Brad Thomas, went 87-55. The events of Sept. 11 prevented them from meeting the Reading Phillies in the Eastern League championship so they settled for co-champion status.
After nearly twirling a no-hitter and eventually losing in his first start at Erie, Schoening went 2-6 with a 4.73 ERA in 12 games for that club. In 2002, he pitched in 21 games and went 3-1 with a 5.17.
He became one of the few players to be a part of two Rock Cats Northern Division pennant-winning clubs in 2003, leading the team in wins (12-6), pitching to a 3.98 ERA in 26 starts.
I'll carry memories of Brent Schoening, a classy, accomodating young man, in my heart forever.