set for Fullerton star and Pirates pitcher
It was a letter from his Fullerton neighbor, Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda, that helped him find the drive and direction to ultimately become a successful mortgage broker, said his sister Sherry Goza.
Spending most of his time playing for the Charleston Pirates a Pittsburgh-affiliated Triple-A minor league team the young Powell pitched in a few games with the Major League's Pirates during his five years with the organization.
Powell died at age 49 of a heart attack in July. He's being honored by friends and family at a memorial celebration at noon Sunday at Rose Hills Mortuary, 3888 Workman Mill Road, Whittier.
The family is asking that those attending make donations on Powell's behalf to the East Fullerton Little League c/o Fullerton Community Bank, 2400 E. Chapman Ave, Fullerton, 92831. Donations will provide scholarships and equipment for underprivileged children to play baseball.
Goza said she remembered how heartbroken her brother was when surgery to correct an ulnar nerve problem failed. The malfunction in the nerve of his pitching arm meant he had to leave the sport he loved.
She recalled her brother's problems after he left baseball.
"He was having such a hard time adjusting," she said. "He never really found his niche outside baseball."
Powell's childhood friend Pat Moore was also concerned for the frustrated athlete.
"It was tough on him at first," Moore said. "All he wanted to do was be a big-league ball player."
Worried for her brother, who was bouncing around jobs such as truck-driving, landscaping and other transitory work, she wrote a letter to Lasorda asking for help.
"Tommy Lasorda lived three blocks from us," Goza said. "He used to run his dog down at Orangethorpe School. (Lasorda) took the time to sit down and write a three-page letter."
The letter begins:
"Dear Chuck I heard that you are having some difficulties adjusting to life after baseball... You worked hard and long in your profession, and that's the same thing you must do in life."
Lasorda goes on to describe his own career as a player.
"I was the same as you most of my time was spent in Triple-A, and when I was let go, I didn't quit."
He ended with:
"Remember, tough times never last, but tough people do... The first step to success is self confidence. Believe in yourself."
Goza said Powell kept that letter and the signed picture Lasorda sent in a frame on his wall throughout his life.
Powell went on to become a successful mortgage broker through the 1990s and went into business on his own in 2003. He spent some time coaching little league for his nephew. Though the mortgage crash hit his business hard, Moore said Powell had just started a new job a few months before he died on the Fourth of July.
His birthday would have been Monday.