Area Athlete Wayne Weinheimer Dies at 38
Friends and coaches fondly remember the former baseball star.
FROM: The Sacramento Bee ~
had a wealth of athletic gifts and
skills paled when placed against the
died July 10 at his family's east
Athletically, he was a local legend to many.
Texas Rangers coach
Matt Walbeck played with and
"When we played (American) Legion, we were just rolling people," said Walbeck, who played with Weinheimer for Sacramento High School in the mid-1980s. "We played a game in Susanville, and Wayne hit a home run that went over the bank of lights. It was one of the longest homers I saw him hit.
"He just ran around the bases. When he got back to the dugout, we asked him, 'Did you get all of that?' And he said, 'No,' and went to sit down. That's how he was.
was just an incredible athlete. There wasn't anything he couldn't play.
He was the best I saw at 'Asteroids' (arcade video game). Suds and Pub
on 39th and J, the guy would just dominate."
Weinheimer went into UC Davis Medical Center in April and never recovered. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease - a type of lymphoma - in 2000 but recovered from that to return to playing and coaching for the Solano Steelheads of the Western Baseball League. But the cancer returned.
His father, Hank Weinheimer, said doctors' opinions varied on whether his son's penchant for chewing tobacco played a role in his death.
"I don't know
whether it did or not," he said. "But
The younger Weinheimer spent his final weeks at home with family and friends but was incapable of speaking because his tongue had been removed in hopes of stopping the cancer growth. Weinheimer either would communicate by writing on a piece of paper - or his friends would read his lips.
Martin Menchacka said he visited Weinheimer during the recent NBA Finals. Menchacka said he grew up with Weinheimer, whose athletic prowess, strength and size - and 6-foot-3, 235 pounds - led to one of his nicknames, "Hammer."
while watching the Celtics and Lakers,
"I lost my mom on June 6," Menchacka said. "And we're sitting there, and he had difficulty because of his condition. And he says to me, 'I'm sorry about your mom and that I wasn't there for you.'
is this guy who is going through everything
Hank Weinheimer admitted to still being a bit numb after watching his son battle his illness.
"He never gave up," the senior Weinheimer said. "He never quit. No matter what the doctors told him they needed to do, he said, 'Do it.' "
said his son was forever "sentimental"
(baseball), and I think kids picked up on that," Munguia said. "He
wasn't a guy who would
"Wayne just loved kids," said ex-Sac High coach Kent Pickering. "And we have had some great kids at Sac High, and I love a lot of them. But he's the first one I loved like a son.
"He truly was a guy with a big heart," said Pickering, who is scheduled to speak at Weinheimer's memorial service at 1 p.m. today at Turn Verein Hall, 3349 J St. "His smile lit up the room."
who played eight years in the minors,
Weinheimer was a 17th-round draft choice by the Chicago Cubs in 1987. Friend and Rangers coach Walbeck went in the eighth round in the same draft.
didn't sign with the Cubs right away. Instead, he attended Sacramento
baseball isn't for everyone," Walbeck
"I also know
if it wasn't for him, my career never