By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Two weeks before his baseball buddy Richard Faust died, Steve Murfin and his pal were at the annual Baltimore Orioles “Dream Week” in Florida.
“I was talking to my mother on the phone, and I handed the phone to him,” said Murfin. “He told her jokes and made her laugh for 10 minutes, and when she handed the phone back, she said, ‘I love that guy. He’ll never change and that’s great’.”
Faust, 70, who ran the annual Cooperstown tournament for members of the Orioles fantasy camp, died suddenly this past Feb. 27 in Washington D.C.
“He loved Doubleday Field,” said Murfin. “He always wanted his ashes spread here, and although we can’t do that, we’ll have a ceremony for him,” he said. “We loved him, and he loved us.”
So Murfin got in touch with Jeff Katz, Friends of Doubleday president, to discuss a memorial in his friend’s honor. “He was thinking about a plaque,” Katz said, “but we’re trying to move away from those. “So what we came up with was a dedicated memorial page on our website, and a ceremony at Doubleday Field.”
The website, on www.friendsofdoubleday.org, includes a photo book of Faust and the names of people who made memorial donations. “It’s something that can be shared with people,” he said. “It’s not static the way a paver or plaque will be.”
As in Septembers past, the fantasy league will play an annual tournament at Doubleday Field this year. And in between games on Thursday, Sept. 26, his friends, widow and village leaders will honor Faust’s life.
“His burial was private,” said Murfin. “But the alumni group, about 250 people, wanted to do something, so I reached out to the Friends of Doubleday.”
Faust and Murfin first met at an Orioles fantasy camp I in the early ’90s, and stayed friends throughout the years.
“He was the emcee at my surprise 50th birthday party,” Murfin said. “He was very smart, very creative and very funny. His favorite line was, ‘When we win, we party, when we lose, we party, when we tie, we party. We just like to party.’”
He coached in the Cooperstown tournament often. He also played first base and outfield, and he pitched. Fellow coaches will speak, as will Katz and Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch.
At the ceremony, a memorial bench with a plaque will be dedicated in Faust’s honor, and a banner with his photo will hang on the field for the week. “We’ll all get patches and T-shirts, and I’m going to give a framed photo to his team so they can hang it in the dugout.”
In addition, Faust’s friends and family raised more than $10,000 for Friends of Doubleday.
“Our original goal was $5,000,” said Murfin. “But we surpassed that right away. Some people gave twice, just to help. That shows how much we all admired him.”
“It’s a huge first donation,” said Katz. “And it’s a perfect marriage of people who love the field and what we can do to make things happen.”
Murfin will also give away 50 of Faust’s bats – each with a sticker of the memorial patch – to his teammates at the end of the ceremony.
“Every time we go to Cooperstown, we’ll know he’s with us,” said Murfin.