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If you struck out with Richard G. (Dick) Bachtell, you'd get another chance

May 11, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Richard G. (Dick) Bachtell, who died May 1 at the age of 71. His obituary was published in the May 2 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Growing up Cokey Robertson's daughter, Lou Robertson Bachtell was active in sports like her father, the former longtime basketball coach at St. Maria Goretti High School.

But she still recalls how as a youngster, she was cut trying out for a spot on a Little League baseball team. It was quite a blow for the young girl.

Years later, when Lou was introduced to her future father-in-law, Richard (Dick) Bachtell, she was jolted back to that "devastating" moment in her young life.

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"I met Rick's dad for the first time, and I realized he was the man who had cut me from that team," Lou said.

They laughed about it then. And Lou said they laughed about it again at his bedside before he passed away May 1 at the age of 71.

"I told him I forgave him," she said. Truth be told, they had mended that fence years before and maintained a close relationship.

Dick was a dedicated husband, father and coach by all accounts.

Cindy, his wife of 50 years, met Dick in Bermuda in 1956. A Navy man, Dick was just 19 when he swept Cindy off her feet.

"Dick and I thought he'd be stationed in Bermuda for about a year, but we went to Norfolk, Va., instead," Cindy said.

Their first child, Michael, who is employed by the Hagerstown Post Office at the North End station, was born in Virginia. Their two other sons, Gary and Rick, both of whom are employed by Maryland State Police, came along after Dick brought Cindy and Michael back to his native Washington County.

As the boys grew, sports became the centerpiece of Bachtell family life.

Michael recalled his father surprising him with a new baseball glove when he was 8, and Gary recalled being batboy for his father's Valley Little League team when he was 7, still too young to play.

"As kids growing up, we ate a lot of meals at the Little League," Gary said. "Dad always referred to hot dogs as 'ballpark steaks.' We ate a lot of 'ballpark steaks.'"

"Dad was my coach from when I was 9 until I was 12," Rick said, adding his father never treated him any differently than the other players.

"I went to most of the games, especially when the boys were playing," Cindy said.

Along with baseball, Michael said he remembers special trips to Dover, Del., for NASCAR races - a great memory for him and his two younger brothers.

For the past 10 years, Dick had more time to indulge his love of sports, following his favorite teams and attending games where his grandchildren were playing ball.

When Dick wasn't coaching, he was barbecuing chicken, volunteering at festivals, mowing grass or dragging the infield.

Dick worked as a supermarket meat cutter for more than 30 years, and later drove trucks for various companies.

"He loved his work," Cindy said, referring to both jobs.

Until recently, Dick was a fixture around Smithsburg in his three-wheel motorized scooter, hanging out with his old friends and waving to motorists, especially school buses.

As Dick's health began to fail, the family said they depended greatly on Dr. Allen Ditto, not only for care, but for support, Gary said.

Though Dick is gone, family members said their memories are keeping them warm. But that's not all that's keeping them warm.

"Dad had a large selection of flannel shirts at home," Gary said. "Since his death, his family and friends have worn these flannel shirts during cool evenings."

Gary said the shirts make them feel a sense of "Poppy" when they wear them. After all, he said, his father was known as the kind of man who would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need.

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