• Bears recall fond memories of fallen teammate

  • Ultimately, it was the friend they lost that convinced them to carry on.

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  • Ultimately, it was the friend they lost that convinced them to carry on.
    The Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears elected to play Monday night’s American Legion doubleheader against the Lee’s Summit Hawthorn Bank Outlaws just two days after their teammate Sam Scarbrough died. Scarbrough, the 15-year-old son of Logan and Karen Scarbrough, was going to be a junior at William Chrisman next school year and was a pitcher and utility player for the Bears. The cause of death was undisclosed, but his coaches said the coroner’s report ruled it accidental.
    Prior to the game, the Bears gathered in a circle at the pitcher’s mound at the Independence Athletic Complex while the Outlaws and members of the Lee’s Summit Post 189 Pirates lined up on the first and third baselines. The Bears bowed their heads in prayer and then put their hands in for a chant of “Sam!”
    “He was one of my best friends,” said J.T. Bodenhammer, who was a classmate of Scarbrough’s at Chrisman. “I’ve known him since I was born. ... I love him. Everybody loves him.
    The Bears considered postponing Monday’s contest after learning of Scarbrough’s death Saturday morning. But the players and coaches called a meeting Sunday at Santa Fe Trail Park. Sam’s father, a coach on the team, offered some words of comfort.
    Eventually, they all decided Sam would want them to play.
    “We just talked to the players and had a couple coaches there to talk to them and cheer them up and talk about baseball,” Bears manager Garrett Ogle said. “We just wanted to try to get their minds off it and try to move forward, but don’t forget.”
    Players and coaches recalled Scarbrough’s sense of humor and nonstop positivity. Aaron Henry recounted a story from Scarbrough’s last game with the Bears that illustrated the kind of teammate he was. Henry was pitching and had a rough outing. After being pulled and moved to second base, Scarbrough sensed his teammate was down on himself and approached him from first base.
    “He came up to me and said, ‘You know what’s awesome?’ He goes, ‘They did not go yard on you one time,’” said Henry, a junior at Fort Osage. “He was just boosting me up. He could just make you smile. And he goes, ‘You kept them at two runs, that’s fine. We should have hit.’
    “And he goes, ‘I got you. I got you in this game. I got you.’”
    That’s how it always was with Scarbrough, his teammates said. The Bears have had a tough season – they fell to 1-16 with Monday’s 12-1 loss in the first game – but that never fazed Scarbrough.
    “He was always the kid with the big heart,” said Tyler Bober, a senior at Chrisman. “He always had a positive attitude. You’d never see him want to give up. ... He always made sure everybody was paying attention, making sure they’re still in the game and just making sure they weren’t hanging their heads.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Scarbrough also has three siblings – older brothers Bobby and Andrew and younger sister Sarah. Bober described how fond Scarbrough was of Sarah.
    “They were practically best friends,” Bober said.
    Henry said he thinks most of the team is holding up OK – some better than others, though. He added that he’s comforted by the memory of the time he spent with his teammate and friend.
    “I think he’s in a better place,” Henry said. “And I think that what Sam was as a person, I think, is combined in everybody on this team. I think he was a part of all of us.”
    Then Henry described a dream he had Sunday night. He was with Scarbrough, who had something important he wanted him to know.
    “He told me he was the angel in the outfield,” Henry said.
    Follow Shawn Garrison on Twitter: @GarrisonEJC

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