Some final thoughts on Mitch Orth and the events of the past few days:
Mitch Orth never had the vaguest idea how many lives he touched, and even he would have been
wowed by the incredible turn-out, many of whom waited in line for nearly four hours to pay their
respects to him and visit with his family. On Friday the BMustangs website had nearly 4,000 hits.
Pretty impressive seeing how the previous high was in the 1600 range. Over 300 have listened to
the broadcast replay of Mitch's 2008 Diocesan Championship basketball game.
If we were to do the visitation over again, we would do a few things differently, but all in all, the
crowd was extremely patient and cooperative, and I think we provided as positive an experience as
we could provide in the setting of our sports complex. Mitch would have wanted it to be there.
I can't say enough about the wonderful job Fr. Egbers did with his homily. The crowd wanted to
hear about Mitch, not Lazarus, and Fr. Egbers gave us Mitch, right down to his $4.00 Haircuts.
Mitch was a very human, human being who lived by the golden rule and earned his eternal reward
by serving God's children and his fellow man. It was Mitch's former players who were hurting the
most through the past few days. While not an emotional person myself, I felt deeply moved by
watching them attempt to come to grips with Mitch's passing. Only time will heal the void in all of
our lives left by Mitch's departure.
Mitch was an organ donor. He has no further use for the body that he occupied during his time
here on earth - but others do. Due to his generosity perhaps his eyes will once again see, and his
ears will once again hear. The least we can do in memory of Mitch is to sign the donor card the
next time we renew our drivers licenses.
It seems only appropriate that Mitch be buried in the Front Row of St. Mary Cemetery, just
outside the gates to the baseball field. There will be no excuse for us not to think of Mitch and
stop by and visit, whenever we pass his gravesite. (Note: Mitch is actually interred at the bottom
of the hill. Due to unstable footing the graveside service was conducted at the top of the hill.)
I'd like to recognize the outpouring of support, and willingness to pitch in to help set up for the
visitation, the clean-up that followed, and the transportation of tables and materials that went with
bringing this event to fruition. Never once did I call for help from our players that they didn't
respond promptly and favorably. I think it was their very small way of "giving back" to Mitch for
all that he had done for them.
Dennis Elix, the funeral director didn't make it public, but his own mother-in-law passed away on
Monday morning, so he was carrying a double burden, but remained strong throughout the Mitch
visitation and funeral and was still helping us out late on Tuesday afternoon. Dennis is a
professional who realizes that people were counting on him, and that despite the personal tragedy
in his life, the show had to go on. We offer Dennis, Steve, and Carol our deepest sympathy at this
most difficult time.
Over the past few days, I couldn't help making some comparisons between Nathan Seiter and
Mitch Orth, both struck down in the prime of their lives. Both were extremely popular and didn't
know a stranger. Both worked hard and played hard. Both packed a lot of living into their 24/25
years. Both are icons in our community. Somebody on Facebook said, "the good die young." In
the case of both Nathan and Mitch, the phrase certainly applies.
I appreciate all of the kind comments made to me (and to Frank Niemeyer) about the articles
about Mitch on the website, and the great services that our broadcasts provide. We all grieve and
heal in different ways. My best therapy is sitting behind this keyboard sharing the Mitch Orth I
knew with all of you.
I am so glad that Mitch was able to achieve his goals and to be the coach that broke the 20 year
drought of Diocesan Championships at St. Mary, winning the first one since his dad, Dave's team
did it back in 1988. Mitch was the happiest I'd ever seen him that night. He was so proud of his
team and happy that he could duplicate his dad's efforts. Whoever takes the 7th Grade St Mary
Saints basketball coaching job has huge shoes to fill. They will be standing in for a legend. There
is no way that they will ever live up to replacing Mitch Orth - You don't replace Mitch Orth.
Mitch had the perfect temperament for a junior-high coach. His kids had fun while learning and
succeeding. As Fr. Egbers said in his homily " his friends will now have to step up and complete
Mitch's work." I wish them the best of luck in doing that.
1st Lieutenant Andy Kremer, you looked great in your dress blues. You could certainly serve as
the poster boy for the United States Marines. Semper Fi! We are very proud of you. Protect us
I'll share one final Mitch story with you that I feel is classic Mitch Orth.
Willie Schlarman and I did a few select broadcasts of Brossart baseball games back during Mitch's
playing days. In order to do this I had to string wire from the phone jack in the concession stand
to our broadcast table at the far end of the St. Mary pavilion. One nice afternoon, I was standing
on a picnic table running wire through the rafters of the shelter when the players began to arrive.
They dressed at the field and I did't pay them much mind as I went about my task.
Suddenly I heard the familiar voice of Mitch Orth from below me. He said, "Schabs are you
ready to do that interview now?" When I looked down Mitch was standing there buck naked. He
must have loved the shocked expression he put on my face, as he turned and headed back to his
car doubled up in laughter. Vintage, uninhibited, Mitch Orth!!!!!
I've posted a link on the website to the video produced by Brian Markus encapsulating Mitch's
life. There are over 1,000 pictures on there. There is also footage of Mitch's sky-diving
adventure, his call-in show recording following the gang's trip to Texas Stadium, and a recording
of all of the tributes to Mitch posted on his Facebook wall. Many of the photos were provided by
the family and others sent to Brian by Mitch's friends. In nearly every photo Mitch sports that
broad smile that we came to expect from him. Bob Rowe summed up Mitch's life perfectly in his
comments. "Mitch loved to hang out with his friends, drink some beer, and have a good time."
Perhaps if these were all of our life's philosophies this world would be a better, brighter, happier
|Some Final Thoughts
On The Mitch Orth
Events of the
Last Few Days