What a coincidence. This afternoon, as I was leaving Ursuline College, my cell phone rang. The voice on the other end said, “This is Dick Schafrath.”
It’s been several years since I talked to Schafrath, who was the Browns starting left tackle from 1961-71. I listened carefully to confirm in my mind that this wasn’t a prank. George Lamb, Schafrath’s old friend from Dick’s home town of Wooster, is a great prankster. But, no. It was Schafrath. It was Lamb who gave him my cell phone number.
We’ll get together for lunch next week. As I drove off, it occurred to me that Schafrath would make a nice chapter in my next book. Schafrath was one of the great characters.
My next stop was the Davis-Babcock Funeral Home in Willoughby to pay my respects to the family of Bobby Schmuck, an old softball friend who died. I hadn’t been there very long when Vic McIntyre, another old friend, walked in. Schmuck’s sons played for McIntyre when he was head football coach at Eastlake North.
Vic is one of my favorite guys from my early days at The Plain Dealer when I was on the high school beat. As we talked, Vic reflected on his early days of coaching when he was an assistant coach at Wooster High School.
I took a flyer.
“Did you coach Dick Schafrath?” I said.
“Yes,” said McIntyre. “Ninth grade.”
Vic went on at length, recalling that Schafrath grew up on a farm seven miles outside Wooster.
“He would put his younger brothers on the bus and he would run the seven miles behind the bus. Dick ran, ran, ran,” said the old coach.
It made me think of Forrest Gump. Dick once ran 60 miles from Cleveland Stadium to the George Lamb Chevrolet car dealership in Wooster. Frankly, I think that run, 16 hours on hard pavement, took so much out of Dick that it hastened the end of his career.
This wasn’t merely a coincidence. It was a coincidence of Homeric proportions. Yes, Dick will be a chapter in my next book.
That’s all for now. Signing off…