John Trautwein comes from a baseball family. His father Jack and brother Dave both played minor-league ball, and his son Michael, selected in the 13th round of the July 2021 major-league draft and signed with the Cincinnati Reds, represents the start of a third generation.
John pitched in nine games for the 1988 Boston Red Sox. After baseball, he and his family had to endure what is arguably the worst of all possible tragedies, but this intelligent, articulate man transcended the experience into a calling that has saved the lives of other people.
John Howard Trautwein Jr. was born in Lafayette Hills, Pennsylvania on August 7, 1962. John Trautwein Sr. worked in sales and marketing for a specialty gas company, Liquid Carbonic Corp. Both he and his wife Gwen were Philadelphia natives, but his work took him to Massachusetts and then to Chicago, where he became part of the executive team, serving as president of the Specialty Gas Division of the company for 20 years. Gwen was a high school English teacher. “My parents were always positive, always believing in us!” says John. Jack and Gwen Trautwein’s first born was Grace, then John Jr., and finally Dave.1 His father Jack was born in Philadelphia in 1931. A left-handed pitcher. he was signed in 1950 after his freshman year at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. He worked in the Phillies system from 1951-1954, mostly in Class-B and Class-C, with 13 games at Single A for the 1954 Spokane Indians (Western International League).
John’s younger brother Dave was a right-handed reliever out of the University of North Carolina, selected by the New York Mets in the 22nd round of the June 1987 draft. Dave worked in the minors from 1987-1992, rising as high as Triple-A Tidewater in 1990 and 1991. He was 1-5 with a 4.30 ERA at that level, with an overall record of 17-33 (3.89).2
Regarding baseball and the two boys, John (who, like Dave, is right-handed) said his father “taught me everything I know. He played catch with me and my younger brother every day in the spring and summer. When my father bought our house, the size of the backyard, not the house, was important. It had to be big enough so we could play baseball in it.”3
John grew up in the Chicago suburb of Barrington. “In four years of Little League, I didn’t win a game,” he said.4 The Barrington American Legion team, however, won the state championship. He had been the 18th man on the 18-player roster, but his high school coach said he had worked his way up to become the team’s No. 2 pitcher.5
John played high school baseball in Barrington and attended Northwestern University on a full-ride baseball scholarship. He graduated in June 1984 with a degree in chemistry, but despite an 8-3 record his senior year, when the Northwestern Wildcats finished second in Big Ten baseball, he was never approached by major-league scouts. “There wasn’t much interest,” he said. “We didn’t have much of a following.”6 With baseball in his blood, though, he declined an offer from a chemical company and signed a $500-per-month baseball contract with the unaffiliated Helena
(Montana) Gold Sox in the Pioneer League, where his fastball speed increased to 87-88. Perhaps without being burdened with lab work, his competitive fire helped him dig deeper.7
In 1984, the 6’3”, 205-pound Trautwein played rookie ball with Helena, working exclusively in relief, and in 19 games (finishing 17) he was 3-4 with a 3.28 ERA. “It was just a bunch of guys who didn’t get drafted,” he said later. “We played with the hope that if we played well, our contracts would get picked up.”8 The team won their division, and the playoffs over Billings – Trautwein earning a save in the clinching game, a 2-1 win in Billings.9 After the season, the Montreal Expos purchased his contract for a reported $5,500 and placed him, on paper, with their Jamestown club. Trautwein himself received no signing bonus.
In 1985, he was assigned to the Single-A Florida State League West Palm Beach Expos. He worked 66 2/3 innings in 35 games, closing 23. His record was 3-5 but with a fine 2.16 ERA.
John began 1986 with the Double-A Jacksonville Expos, and was 2-1, but with a disappointing 7.04 ERA. In mid-May he was moved back to West Palm Beach, where he posted a 1-2 record with a 5.82 ERA. In late June, Trautwein was sent to the Burlington Expos (Single-A Midwest League), where he turned things around and posted an ERA of 1.98 over 36 1/3 innings, each one of his 21 appearances closing a game. John credits manager Junior Minor and the farm director at the time, Bob Gebhardt, for giving him that “last chance” that summer in Burlington.
John never did get a hit in professional baseball. “No, the best I did was a sacrifice fly.” He was 0-for-7 — but got one RBI with Jacksonville on the sac fly. “And I talked about that for about a month.”10
He was exceptionally fortunate in his offseason work. John worked in the offseasons for MDA Scientific, which he describes as “a chemical detection company. Safety equipment that detects toxic gases and combustible gases on refineries and oil rigs, semiconductor fabs, and other facilities where dangerous gases could be present. I was in inside sales for them. My degree was in chemistry. It was a nice fit.”
He proved a natural at sales, and as he pitched in the minors, the work provided a sense of security. “I remember thinking, ‘OK, wow. I know what I’m going to do if I fail.’ There was that comfort now. It’s very rare for baseball players anyhow, because most of them don’t have a degree.
“It was all mental. If you’re a little bit tight, you’re just not quite the same. I lost the fear of failure. Because of that offseason job. I didn’t have any worries about failing and I just let it go. I relaxed. I threw harder. I had more movement. I made the Double A team. I ended up going like 15-4. The Red Sox drafted me that next winter. Literally, about 12 months after taking that job in the offseason I went from A ball to signing a big-league contract.”
Trautwein spent the full 1987 season back in Double A with the Southern League’s Jacksonville Expos, appearing in 56 games (with one start, closing 25 games) for a total of 106 2/3 innings. His ERA this time was 2.87 and indeed his record was 15-4, with eight saves, the 15 wins
leading the league. That was, of course, a lot of wins for a relief pitcher working for a team that played a 144-game schedule. And, he told sportswriter Jerome Holtzman, “I wasn’t even the ace reliever, the closer. I was the middle man, a nonglorifed position.”11 “I’d come in when we were 1 or 2 runs down or were tied. I’d hold them and we’d score. It just got to a point where I was a good luck charm.”12
He’d started the season well, but credits pitching coach Joe Kerrigan for helping him keep on track, and helping firm up the self-confidence that carried him to the major leagues.13 “Joe was always challenging me, always coaching me, always showing me that he believed in me – he was truly one of the key reasons I ever put on a big-league uniform.”
Jacksonville placed first in the East Division but lost in the playoffs. Although he had been with the Expos organization for three years, he had never received an invitation to spring training. It was at times discouraging, knowing that many of his friends from college were establishing themselves in business and he was “riding a bus through Arkansas. But what kept me going was I knew every one of them would have been glad to trade places with me.”14
Beginning in mid-March 1987, Trautwein wrote a weekly column entitled “Road to the majors” for the Arlington Heights (Illinois) newspaper. He mused about signing an autograph for an excited little boy, imagining the boy’s friends asking him, “Who the hell is John Trautwein?”15 The column was amusing, self-deprecating, and informative, while presenting his thoughts along the way, on superstitions, drug testing, sadness at seeing friends sent down, posing for his Topps baseball card, his on-field performance – and his roommate telling him the only one who actually read the column was John’s mother. His Elvis impersonation apparently went over well on the road in Memphis.
Trautwein was articulate and in May was asked to speak to several elementary school audiences about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.16 He said his total pay for playing baseball in 1987 came to $5,374.97.17
On December 7, the Boston Red Sox claimed him from the Expos in the Rule 5 draft.18 The club was seeking him for long relief in 1988, the role Steve Crawford had performed in 1987. Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe was pleased, titling his column “Smart move by Sox.” It gave Shaughnessy a couple of ready jokes, too, given Trautwein’s college degree in chemistry and his job at the time with MDA Scientific, “an Illinois company that manages toxic gas monitors.” Shaughnessy remarked that Boston’s 1987 bullpen had featured spontaneous combustion and toxic waste.19
Red Sox scout George Digby liked Trautwein, and scout Frank Malzone said that Eddie Lyons of the Expos had told him the Sox would be pleased. Trautwein said he was a Cubs fan growing up, but also a fan of Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski. In 1982, he’d played with Chatham in the Cape Cod League, with one appearance at Fenway Park. Describing his style, he said, “I throw from a three-quarters delivery – fastball, slider, forkball. My ball moves a lot. I’m not really a fireballer.
My fastball is my best pitch because it moves. I get a lot of ground balls. Last year I pitched a lot of long and middle relief, and it seems to suit me pretty well.”20
He got his invitation to big-league spring training and while “he has not been awe-inspiring – five earned runs in eight innings” – neither was his competition.21 One standout game was against the Royals on March 25 when Roger Clemens, Trautwein, and Lee Smith combined on a two-hitter. On April 1, Bruce Hurst, Trautwein, and Wes Gardner shut out the Indians on seven hits. He finished well and survived cutdown day, making the club in what was said to have been “one of the most competitive spring training camps in recent Red Six history.”22
Trautwein opened the 1988 season with the Red Sox. His first appearance was in Boston on April 7, entering in the sixth inning with the Detroit Tigers leading, 8-4, with runners on second and third and just one out. He induced an infield groundout, the runners holding. A single to center by Tom Brookens drove in the two inherited runners. He then secured the third out. After a scoreless seventh, three hits in the top of the eighth produced one more run. The team would have preferred to send him to Triple A, to give him more work, but the move would have required a trade with Montreal to free them from the Expos’ opportunity to reclaim him under the Rule 5 strictures.23
He worked in three games in May, but was hit hard in the latter two, for five runs in the second game and eight runs in the third. In the May 17 game, he gave up what he jokes was the longest home run in Fenway Park history, to Oakland’s Mark McGwire, but he learned a lesson the next day.24 He had relieved Steve Ellsworth, who given up six runs in the first and second innings, Trautwein was tagged for five more. He was discouraged and called the home run “the worst moment of my baseball career,” but the next day an old friend who had been in the stands asked, “Did you know you achieved a lifelong dream last night?” Trautwein muttered something about the home run, but the friend replied, “No, you got your first – and your second – major-league strikeout.” That moment, his friend taught him not to focus or obsess on the negative.
On June 4, he faced one batter and struck him out. His only other game in June was in Baltimore on the 16th, entering in the fourth inning just after the Orioles had tied the score, 2-2. In the fifth inning, he was tagged for a single, hit Billy Ripken with a pitch, and then on a 3-2 count gave up a two-run double to Cal Ripken Jr. He got Eddie Murray to fly out to left, but then Jim Traber singled to right field and Cal Jr. scored. It was 5-2, Orioles. Red Sox manager John McNamara called on Tom Bolton to relieve him. The final score was Baltimore 8, Boston 4. Trautwein took the loss, the only decision of his major-league career. His earned run average stood at 12.71.
It was more than six weeks before he pitched again. He joked with a sportswriter, “I remember you guys would write, ‘Trautwein held hostage, Day 45.’”25 His next mound assignment came under new Red Sox manager Joe Morgan. Trautwein worked in three August games, without giving up a run. On August 20, after a deal was worked out with the Expos, Trautwein was optioned to Pawtucket.26 He had brought his ERA down to 9.00. He understood why he hadn’t been used more. As he later wrote, “Our starting pitchers Roger Clemens, Bruce Hurst, Wes Gardner, Oil Can Boyd, and Mike Boddicker were doing great. Like our starting pitching, we
With the PawSox, he worked nine innings in four games, allowing just two runs. He was called up again when rosters expanded at the beginning of September, but the Red Sox were in a tight race for postseason play and did not use him. The team won the AL East, by one game over the Tigers and just two games ahead of both the Brewers and Blue Jays, but Oakland swept them in the ALCS.
Trautwein remembers one moment which allowed him to draw on a talent he had other than baseball. Future Hall of Famer Jim Rice approached him one day, explaining that one of the clubhouse boys needed some help with his math homework. Rice brought Trautwein over to the clubby, and the Northwestern graduate helped the young student for a half-hour or so. Something clicked, and the clubby “got it.” Rice told Trautwein, “I need to tell you something, I know you’re upset because you’re not getting to pitch these days, but I got to tell you, I would do anything to be able to do what you just did for that kid. Anything.”28
That first year was magical, of course, and John – a natural salesperson – helped MDA Scientific a bit during the season, too. “I’d leave tickets for the game for customers and sales guys I worked with. I’d throw them baseballs. The sales guys loved it, right? ‘My inside guy pitches for the Red Sox.’ I’m signing autographs during batting practice and I’m in my uniform talking about the chemical properties of our equipment.”
Trautwein joined the Boston club for spring training but was placed with Triple-A Pawtucket, where he spent the full 1989 season. He appeared in 53 games, starting two (one a complete game), and closing 26. His ERA was 4.27 with a 6-8 record. In 1990, he worked for the PawSox again, in 51 games, but his ERA deteriorated to 6.47. He was called up to Boston in late April for three days but did not appear in a game.
In 1990 the paths of the two brothers crossed. John was pitching for Pawtucket and Dave was pitching for Tidewater. The person most conflicted was, understandably, their father. As John tells it, “My brother and I got to play against each other twice. I was four years older, so we didn’t play against each other in high school or college, but in pro ball there was twice – when Pawtucket played Tidewater. We were both relief pitchers and twice we both got in the game at the same time. One time our parents were in the stands, so that was really fun.”29
He became a free agent after the 1990 season and decided to retire. Brother Dave was still pitching but had been dropped down a rung on the Mets organizational ladder, his development perhaps held back by the player strike at the start of 1990.
John had worked in the offseasons for MDA Scientific and now joined the company fulltime. In the 1990-91 offseason, MDA offered him the position of European sales manager. “I just thought that was too good to pass up. I was closing in on 30. I didn’t want to be Crash Davis, from Bull Durham.” He took the position and was based in Munich for 2 ½ years.
“I knew it would be a challenge. I’d be traveling the world, which I had never done – I thought, what a perfect thing to do when you’re leaving baseball because it was exciting. I wouldn’t be sitting at a desk looking out the window and wishing I was at Pawtucket. It was a pretty easy decision and I never really looked back, which was nice. I didn’t really have that homesick feeling. I was talking in German (I had taken German in school). I was traveling all around Europe, working with local companies and local sales teams, getting a culture lesson that most American people don’t get to experience. It was really quite special.”
Does John look back on his career with any regrets? “It’s definitely not regret, but if I had known when I retired that there were going to be two to four more teams coming [expansion, with the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins both having inaugural seasons in 1993] and slots for 20-40 more pitchers…I probably would have been one of those. I might have thought about it differently. I battled my whole career. Every year, I was the last guy to make every single team. But I enjoyed it and I had fun doing it. I loved the game and always said I’d play until they tell me I can’t play anymore. Fortunately, I never heard that, and I was able to retire on my own terms. So really, I have no regrets…which is nice!
“You never know what might have happened, but had I not retired when I did, I wouldn’t have met my wife. I was fortunate enough to chase a dream. I played seven years of pro ball. I got to spend a year with the Boston Red Sox. I pitched in nine games. I did great in six of them. And I did terrible in three of them. It was just the way the ball bounces, but I had great relationships, made some great friends.”
Susan Williams was the daughter of Richard Williams, who had been John’s father’s best friend. Susie and John fell in love on a joint family vacation after John’s retirement. They married and she joined him in Munich; he was promoted to worldwide sales and marketing director, and the couple relocated to England in the spring of 1994. Of Susie, John says, “She’s the real athlete in the family. She played lacrosse and field hockey at the University of Virginia.”
He was promoted and they moved to the United Kingdom in 1994. Oddly enough, there was just one more bit of baseball for John, for part of 1995. “When I got to the UK branch of Zellweger – a sister company – it was a promotion, an exciting one. My wife and I moved there and lived in a town called Bournemouth. We’re driving around on a Sunday, and we saw this baseball field, which we didn’t expect to see in England. We saw thousands of soccer fields and cricket pitches. We stopped and, sure enough, there’s baseball game going on, and the team had Red Sox uniforms on. They were the Bournemouth B’s, so they had a Boston Red Sox ‘B’ on their chest and a Boston Red Sox hat. I introduced myself. I don’t even think I told them I had played. I don’t remember. It was a men’s league. And these guys were all in their 20s and early 30s. It wasn’t awful baseball. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful. It was an old high-school-like field. They asked me to play, and I was like, ‘Yeah, why not? It would be kind of a fun thing to do.’ So just for that one summer, I played every Sunday. I pitched once in a while and played third base. It was fun.”30
Susie and John had their first child – Richard Williams “Will” Trautwein – born in England in the summer of 1995. They had three children after Will, all born in the United States – sons Tommy and Michael, and daughter Holyn.
What brought them back to the US? His company acquired another that offered a handheld gas detection product. Their biggest market was America, with headquarters in Atlanta. They made him head of the Americas gas detection group.
The Trautweins made the move, and from 1997 to 2003 he was vice president of sales and marketing for the Americas. When the company wanted him to move to Florida, he began to look for something else.
Mark Oldfield, a friend and neighbor in Johns Creek, Georgia, was the founder of a startup, a global IT services company called Source Support Services. He invited John to become a partner in 2003, and they built the business together. John was named president and COO in 2007. As of May 2021, he still serves the company, based in Lawrenceville, Georgia, as Chief Customer Officer.31
The Trautwein family settled into a life that would seem idyllic to many. In October 2010, Will was 15, talented at music and lacrosse, getting ready to get his driver’s permit. Tommy was in seventh grade, Michael in fifth grade, and Holyn in first grade.
After discussing plans for the next day, Will went up to his room. The next morning – October 15, 2010 – Susie found Will in his room. He had hanged himself. Without any apparent warning, he had taken his life. John Trautwein was suddenly – inexplicably – “a member of the saddest club on earth.”32 He was a parent who had lost his child to suicide.
The sense of despair was immediate and inescapable. Any family could easily be torn apart, but John and Susie had each other and three younger children to take care of. They did what they needed to for each other. They got through the day. And the next. Family and friends rose to the occasion. But the questions John put to himself were inescapable. Had he failed Will in some way? What had he missed? He had always been “Mr. Glass Half Full” – had he tried to help Will by being too optimistic at a time his son was hurting and wanted something other than a reassurance that everything was going to be OK? Sometimes, he came to realize, “it’s going to be OK” might not be adequate.
John has given the world a book, My Living Will: A Father’s Story of Loss & Hope. It is a difficult book to read for anyone who has children, but a very important book. He doesn’t pretend to have the answers – any of them – but he details with honesty what he and his family went through, the questions they had, the signs they might have missed.
The story John tells is, for many readers, no doubt heroic. Drawing on reserves they probably never would have guessed they had, John and Susie Trautwein fought their way back. Almost immediately, they set up a foundation to become known as the Will to Live Foundation, a nonprofit “dedicated to preventing teen suicide by improving the lives and the ‘Will to Live’ of
teenagers everywhere through education about mental health and encouraging them to recognize the love and hope that exists in each other.”33
As others approached to console them, John and Susie found that they often had to reach out and take care of others – in their family, among their friends, among Will’s friends. A whole community was affected by Will’s taking his life. The Trautweins realized they had to learn to “live for the living.”34
By then, John had already embarked on the work he had set for himself. The Foundation has raised well over $1 million to fund efforts regarding awareness and care, and he himself has made more than 500 speeches to schools, youth groups, families, sports teams, and church groups, speaking directly to teens but also to parents, coaches, and counselors.
“Will was all about his teammates and so it was a nice way to honor him in a positive way. We were doing good. Even to this day there are so many people who have come up to me and said, ‘You don’t know me, but I read your book’ or ‘I saw you speak’ or ‘you helped my friend.’ Things like that.
“I know it saved me. It was like therapy for me. I was able to talk about it in a positive way. It kept Will in our daily lives – at least in my daily life – because the foundation was important.”
One of the things John stresses is the importance of “life teammates.” When Will died, he says, “it was a shock to everybody. Nobody knew he was struggling, because he didn’t talk to anybody. He didn’t feel comfortable talking to anybody. That’s what happens with depression and mental illness. You don’t talk about it because of the stigma.” People you can confide in are essential. “It’s important we recognize the fact that we’re all struggling. Depression is always going to be there. We all need each other.” He was overwhelmed by how many people came forward – from neighbors to old teammates from minor-league days, to his catcher from Northwestern (and then New York Yankees manager) Joe Girardi telephoning him from the dugout before a World Series game. “They were all so helpful, and caring, and really sort of gave me hope. That’s where I came up with this idea of these life friends, these life teammates. That kind of stuff is just heartful.”
The night after the first Where There’s a Will There’s a Way 5K race the Foundation had organized, John thought to himself, “This is way better than any day I ever had in the big leagues.”35
Almost two years after losing Will, John was approached by a young girl from a neighboring school. He learned that the very day Will took his own life, she had been planning her own suicide after school but made the decision not to do so when she saw how much pain Will’s taking his life had brought her friends. “Will saved me,” she told John.36
John Trautwein had found a calling that meant more to him than striking out a batter or any one of the 44 saves he had in the minor leagues. He says he shows a video of the McGwire home run
in every Will to Live speech he gives, to show how we can obsess on the negative and not see the positive – in that case, his first two major-league strikeouts.
And he found he liked himself more, a wholly unexpected gift. “Carrying Will’s light has been the source of so much love and good in my life. He has taught me so much. Watching his brothers and sister move on with their lives in the midst of such a tragedy has also inspired me and taught me so much about life.”37
Of Will’s brothers and sister, John says, “They’re all doing great. Obviously, going through that tragedy almost 11 years ago now was devastating for them, but we formed the Will to Live Foundation. We did it because we just felt like we had to do something. Something positive.”
As of 2021, John’s children are living positive lives. Tommy, who was 23 in 2021, recently graduated from the University of Georgia in Athens, where he has his own music production company. Michael just finished his junior year at Northwestern where, like his dad, he plays baseball for the Wildcats. A lefty-hitting catcher, he is pursuing a degree in economics. Holyn just completed her junior year at Northview High School in Johns Creek, a first team All-State lacrosse player who has committed to play at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. John says, “They carry Will’s light in everything they do, and they are all best of friends which is all Susie and I could ask for!” John pointed out that Mike Trautwein was selected in the 13th round on the 13th day of July at the 13th hour (12:51 PM). Part of the Will to Live Foundation logo contains the tagline “Remember 13 and Love Each Other” – the number was Will Trautwein’s lacrosse number.
“What we didn’t realize was just how helpful the Will to Live Foundation was going to be for all of us. The goal is to – in a positive, motivating way – spread this awareness that we all need each other.
“I think the kids are doing well, because they know that they’re honoring their brother in a nice way. We don’t sweep it under the rug at all. We’re not afraid to show and share our emotions. We understand now that it is OK to not be OK – a key message of Will to Live.”
If Will is looking down on Earth, it’s hard to imagine he’s not exceptionally touched, and proud, of the way his father and his family have come through such a difficult time, and in a way that has truly helped other families.”
Last revised: August 22, 2021
This biography was reviewed by Jan Finkel and fact-checked by Evan Katz.
In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Rertosheet.org, and the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, ed. Lloyd Johnson and Miles Wolff (Baseball America). Thanks to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
1 Of his mother, John said in 2021, “She was an English major at Chestnut Hill College. I think she got her master’s in Shakespearean literature. She was a schoolteacher – a high-school teacher – and then eventually became a very effective housewife and mother.” Author interview with John Trautwein, June 30, 2021. All quotations from John Trautwein which are otherwise unattributed come from this interview. Athleticism runs in the family. Grace was, John says, “a very accomplished figure skater. After high school, she signed with the Ice Follies after high school, and she was with them for a couple of years and was even a soloist her second year.”
2 He was recalled by the Mets on September 12 but did not appear in a game. Dave Trautwein’s last season in pro ball was 1992. “He went to work in sales for the same company I was in for a while, MDA. He was in sales, and he did that for a while. Like my dad, we were all sort of relationship people, and good communicators. He had a successful time doing that, but he loved baseball and wanted to get back into it. He started doing private lessons and then he formed his own baseball school – kind of a typical teaching facility. Now he’s back in the sales world, in Chicago where he is a home improvement product salesman.”
3 Jerome Holtzman, “Chemist-pitcher hopes not to bomb with Boston,” Chicago Tribune, December 27, 1987: B2.
4 Dave Olsen, “Trautwein makes his pitch for the majors,” Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Illinois), February 22, 1987: 57.
6 Dan Shaughnessy, “Smart move by Sox,” Boston Globe, December 8, 1987: 83.
7 Jerome Holtzman, “Chemist-pitcher hopes not to bomb with Boston.”
8 Terry Armour, “Trautweins find curves in their baseball roads,” Chicago Tribune, July 27, 1991: A1.
9 Associated Press, “Gold Sox claim Pioneer title,” Havre Daily News (Havre, Montana), September 5, 1984: 6.
10 An experience batting, though, made a difference in his pitching. “I remember the first time I batted. I was in West Palm Beach with the Expos. It was one of the rare times that they let me bat. It was the ninth inning and they said they were going to let me finish the game. The guy throws a fastball, and it pops into the catcher’s glove. I jumped back and said to the catcher, ‘Wow, this guy throws hard!’ And the catcher said to me, ‘John, you throw harder than he does.’ ‘Really?’ ‘Yeah.’ It actually positively affected me. It made me trust my fastball more when I saw somebody else from that angle. I said, ‘OK, I need to be more aggressive here because if I throw harder than this guy, I’m tougher to hit than I think.’ It’s funny how these little tidbits that you pick up can really help you. That was one of them.”
11 Jerome Holtzman, “Chemist-pitcher hopes not to bomb with Boston.” He picked up the nickname “The Vulture.”
12 Mark Ruda, “Barrington grad Trautwein sets up career with Boston,” Daily Herald, March 10, 1988: 15.
13 Trautwein devotes a few pages to Kerrigan’s influence. John Trautwein, My Living Will (Bloomington, Indiana: WestBow Press, 2014), 155-159.
14 Ron Borges, “Not a sure bet,” Boston Globe, March 30, 1988: 31.
15 John Trautwein, “Road to the majors,” Daily Herald, March 19, 1987: 81.
16 John Trautwein, “Road to the majors,” Daily Herald, May 21, 1987: 83. In another column, he talked about the team bus stopping at a 7-Eleven. He got a “couple of two-day old sandwiches, a bag of potato chips, and two cans of Sprite,” adding, “Being a professional athlete, I feel it is important to eat well in order to maintain top physical condition.” See the June 4 column, page 79. He roomed with Gary Wayne and Randy Johnson that year.
17 John Trautwein, “Road to the majors,” Daily Herald, September 24, 1987: 82. In his October 15 column, though, he talked about how he truly did play for the love of the game, for the feeling of being really “alive” when he was on the mound.
18 The deal at the time for Rule 5 draftees was that Boston paid Montreal $50,000 and had to keep him on their roster for the full season or return him to Montreal for half that amount. The major-league minimum salary at the time was $62,500 and that is what Trautwein received from the Red Sox.
19 Shaughnessy, “Smart move by Sox.”
20 Shaughnessy, “Smart move by Sox.”
21 Steve Fainaru, “What’s a Trautwein? For $50,000, Sox will find out,” Hartford Courant, March 23, 1988: F5.
22 Ron Borges, “It’s cutdown day for Sox,” Boston Globe, March 31, 1988: 34. His teammates played a somewhat cruel joke on him, having manager John McNamara summon him into the office and telling him he was being sent down. Only when he opened the door to leave the office did the assembled team all shout “April fool!” See Leigh Montville, “The kid was just kidding,” Boston Globe, April 2, 1988: 29.
23 Steve Fainaru, “Trautwein dilemma spurring trade talk,” Hartford Courant, May 9, 1988: B4.
24 See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWOvrxi_cTw . Accessed July 3, 2021. There was nothing about distance in the following day’s Boston Globe, but it is clear from the video that it was a massive shot.
25 Dan Shaughnessy, “Ex-hurler focusing on saves,” Boston Globe, February 9, 2011: C1, C4.
26 The deal involved Montreal receiving New Britain Red Sox shortstop Victor Rosario at the end of August. See Larry Whiteside, “Boyd back on roster,” Boston Globe, August 20, 1988: 37.
27 John Trautwein, My Living Will, 187.
28 My Living Will, 188.
29 Trautwein added, “My dad didn’t like it. He always said it was awful because he always had like heart failure whenever we were pitching. He always said, ‘After you got out of the inning, I had three outs to rest.’ But when the two boys were pitching against each other, he had heartburn for me on the mound and then he had heartburn for David on the mound. He’d live and die with every pitch.”
30 “We didn’t know anybody; I just had my work. It was a way we met a bunch of other young guys and their wives and got sort of inducted into the community. By playing baseball, which was really fun.” About the caps, he says, “They had some Red Sox hats. I don’t know where they got them. Some were better than others. I said, ‘Listen, I’m going home for a couple of weeks and I’m going to come back with 20 Red Sox hats.’”
31 “We brought in a more polished COO, Mike Stolz, who runs the company now. He was a customer of ours and a good friend of mine. It all worked out great, but now my role is all about sales growth and dealing with customers and our relationships while finding new customers to grow the business. We were acquired a year and a half ago and that was really great for all of us, and me in particular. Now we’re backed by a really great private equity firm, Capitala in Charlotte.” The company’s website is found at: https://sourcesupport.com/ Accessed May 15, 2021.
32 Dan Shaughnessy, “Ex-hurler focusing on saves.”
34 My Living Will, 92.
35 My Living Will, 163. John Trautwein appeared in a total of nine games for the Boston Red Sox, but teammates like Dwight Evans and Bruce Hurst reached out to him and when the Red Sox celebrated the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park in 2012 – almost 24 years after he had pitched in those nine games and a year and a half after Will’s death – John was unable to attend the event because of a major speech he was giving. Over 200 former players did come, and the Red Sox put a Will to Live wristband into every goody bag presented guests that day.
36 My Living Will, 216.
37 My Living Will, 215.