Monday, July 30, 2012

Family 'amazed' by turnout at softball tournament in memory of Schaab - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

By Mary Pickels

Published: Monday, July 30, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Updated 51 minutes ago

The sky was blue and the sun shone on Sunday as dozens of softball teams rotated through the ball fields at Penn Township Municipal Park during the First Annual Schaab Memorial Softball Tournament.

The day was dedicated to the memories of Michael Schaab, 25, and his sister, Nancy Schaab, 26.

Michael Schaab died after he was shot by John Shick on March 8 at his worksite, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Oakland.

University of Pittsburgh police officers fatally shot Shick as he tried to flee after shooting five other people.

Nancy Schaab was shot to death on Oct. 23, 2010 by her boyfriend, Jordan Just.

Mary Schaab said her daughter was gifted in several sports.

â€Å"Nancy coached tennis for a while. She was into all of the sports. If she could have played football, she would have,” said the siblings’ mother.

Son Michael coordinated slow-pitch softball teams with the Pittsburgh Sports League, playing with many of the group of close-knit friends he had grown up with at Greensburg Central Catholic High School.

â€Å"He’s going to be mad he missed it (the tournament). That’s the hard part,” Mary Schaab said.

Throughout the day, 32 teams played ball, raising funds to benefit an academic scholarship fund in the siblings’ names as well as CeaseFirePA, a coalition working to end gun violence and illegal gun trafficking.

Michael Schaab’s close friends and teammates, Joe and Amanda Giacobbi of North Huntingdon, began planning the tournament shortly after their friend’s funeral.

â€Å"We knew it had to be softball. ... It’s like seeing Mike again,” Amanda Giacobbi said.

Teams included staff members from Old Route 66 Grille, which the Schaab family owns, and from UPMC and Western Psych.

The two said donors were generous with food, T-shirts, sports equipment and Chinese auction items.

Penn Township donated the use of the ball fields and lights for the games, expected to last until 10:30 p.m.

Organizers hoped to raise $5,000, but anticipated the final figure could be three times that.

â€Å"I think he would just be so flabbergasted by all of these people being here to remember him. I tell my husband I feel like he is here. I feel like I’m going to turn the corner and see him,” Amanda Giacobbi said.

â€Å"My husband, especially, had a lot of anxiety about (the day). I told him to take it one step at a time. There have been tearful moments. We appreciate everything,” Mary Schaab said.

Harry Schaab found himself recruited to play in several of the games.

Noting the couple has â€Å"good days and bad days,” he said it was heartening to see the turn-out for the event.

â€Å"I’m glad I came. ... For them all to be here for my kids. It’s amazing,” he said.

In the midst of his own grief, Harry Schaab tried to cheer his wife by reaching out to her favorite musician, Bruce Springsteen.

He drafted an email that his wife’s sister, Lynn Daum, moved through fan blog sites.

On Memorial Day weekend, while the couple was out shopping, Harry Schaab’s cellphone rang.

The man known as The Boss was calling from on tour in Germany.

â€Å"He was so nice. Her eyes lit up. It was the happiest I’ve seen her since this happened,” Schaab said.

His wife said Springsteen expressed his condolences on the loss of their children.

She conveyed her own condolences on the 2011 loss of the E Street Band’s long-time saxophone player, Clarence Clemons.

â€Å"They keep playing to keep his (Clemons’) memory alive,” she said.

Smiling at the action on the fields, Schaab said, â€Å"They are out here playing to keep our children’s memories alive.”

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
She can be reached at 724-836-5401

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