This is a story about a life cut short way too early, a story about two young boys losing a father, and how Barton Community College head baseball coach Mike Warren helped a family in mourning.
Jeff Little, 44, a highly regarded youth baseball coach in the Northeast Baseball League in Wichita and a member of its board of directors, died unexpectedly from a massive heart attack on March 4. He left behind his wife, Dee Dee, 42, and sons Chance, 13, and Cade, 9, avid baseball players, just like their dad.
Enter Shelby Stout, an athletic trainer at Barton, who knew Little. A former high school baseball player at Andover in the mid-1980s, who was a walk-on at Kansas State University, Little later signed a minor-league baseball contract with the Cincinnati Reds organization.
“He never did play,” Dee Dee said, pausing. “Shelby Stout knew Jeff, and she was telling Mike about what happened.”
What happened next is what Dee Dee termed, “amazing.”
“Mike Warren had lost both of his parents last year, about six months apart,” Dee Dee said. “After being told by Shelby what happened to Jeff and how he and our boys loved baseball, he brought two of his players, Frederico Castigni and Adam Geisick, along with Shelby, to Wichita to see us.”
Warren then invited the Littles to come to Great Bend for a weekend series at Barton on March 24-25.
Dee Dee said her sons had a blast, being honorary Cougars in their own right.
“It was truly amazing,” she said. “It was exactly what the boys needed. I just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate what Coach Warren did for my sons.
“The people at Barton Community College truly are special.”