Blogs > From The Bleacher Seats

A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Get Well card for Coach Frank Stutcher

Some things I always just took for granted.
The Slurpees at 7-Eleven; the squirrels swiping the sunflower seeds from the bird feeder; and Frank Stutcher in a dugout.
I started writing about sports in the early 80s. Frank Stutcher was the varsity baseball coach at Berkley High School.
It was a position he held for 47 years.
During the summer, he also coached Connie Mack baseball.
Even after Frank Stutcher retired from teaching and coaching, he helped some of his former players who had gone on to become head coaches themselves.
He was with Jim Ellis for a season or two when Ellis coached the team at Troy High.
Frank Stutcher in the dugout. Frank Stutcher in the third base coach’s box. Frank Stutcher leaning up against a chain link fence that surrounded a ball diamond.
Those were the sightings that I expected.
But Frank Stutcher at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak for the past six weeks? Most of that time the former coach was in a medically induced coma.
“It was just a day or two ago when dad came out of his coma. The first thing he said was to get these darn things off of me, or something to that effect,” said his oldest son, Kolin Stutcher.
All right, so Frank Stutcher’s language might have been a bit more strident. Who can blame him? A feeding tube isn’t anyone’s idea of a five-star restaurant. And a ventilator will never remind anyone of some bracing mountain air in say, the Colorado Rockies.
Both were very, very necessary, though.
“Dad is an epileptic. He had been on medication all of his life, and his epilepsy has been controlled. But for some reason, the medication stopped working. He started having short seizures nearly every minute or so. The seizures lasted 15 or 20 seconds,” said Kolin Stutcher.
Doctors induced the coma. The former Berkley High coach remained comatose for nearly six weeks.
“Dad is now out of the coma and he’s fairly alert. He is talking to people, but he does not recognize everyone. They are not sure if there has been any long-term damage or not,” said his oldest son.
Frank and Anastasia Stutcher have been married 50 years. Anastasia has been at her husband’s side every day he’s been in the hospital.
“We had a party planned for my parents on June 2,” said Kolin Stutcher. “They were supposed to go out to California to visit my younger brother, Peter, and his wife, Marisa. They live in Stockton.”
Instead, Peter and Marisa made the trip east.
Kolin Stucher is 48 years old. He was a tennis professional for years. He now is a wood artist who specializes in handmade children’s furniture and accessories.
He also is a baseball umpire.
“I run into so many people in baseball who know my dad,” said Kolin Stutcher. “That’s what makes it difficult sometimes. Imagine following a legend. Dad was known for his knowledge of the game.”
Frank Stutcher was certainly a fixture on the local baseball scene. He is a member of the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.
He spent nearly 50 years in the dugout and in the third base coach’s box. He taught them game he loved to generations of kids.
I’ve known Frank forever. I’ve known him in the dugout. I’ve known him in the third base coach’s box. I’ve known him leaning against a cyclone fence that surrounds a baseball field.
Get well, coach. There is a coach’s box waiting when you get better. I promise we will find one for you.


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