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Former Wareham Player Dies Unexpectedly

for immediate release: 24 July, 2002
    

Former Wareham/Brewster Third Baseman Dies in Sleep


BATON ROUGE, LA – Former Wareham Gatemen and Brewster Whitecaps third baseman Wally Pontiff, captain of this year’s Louisiana State University baseball team, was found dead this morning at his home in Metairie, LA.


Wally Pontiff (LSU), third baseman in 2002 for Wareham and in 2001 for Brewster, was found dead this morning at his Metairie, LA home.
Walsh/CCBL 2002


     The news came hard to Pontiff’s former teammates on the Wareham Gatemen, who walked from the locker room with tear-streamed faces after hearing the news this afternoon. The team took Pontiff’s uniform – number 31 – with them to an away game at BFC Whitehouse Field in Harwich and placed it in the dugout in memory of their fallen comrade. Pontiff left Wareham two weeks ago when it was expected he might sign a contract with the Oakland A’s. He had not signed a contract with Oakland as of this morning when his father, according to Cape Cod Baseball League officials, found him.


     “It’s obviously been a very emotional, difficult day for most of us,” Wareham Gatemen President and General Manager John Wylde said. “The circumstances (of Pontiff’s death), to the best of my knowledge, were natural.” 


     According to a brief statement posted on the Official LSU Athletics web site, “student-athlete Wally Pontiff, a member of the baseball team, died Wednesday morning in his parents' Metairie home. The cause of death has not yet been determined.”


     Pontiff, who batted .240 in 40 games in 2001 for the Brewster Whitecaps with one home run and nine RBI, played 15 games for the Wareham Gatemen this summer before heading back to his home state.

 


Wally Pontiff at bat versus Orleans with Cardinals catcher Ryan Hanigan.
Walsh/CCBL 2002


     In 15 games this summer playing for Wareham, Pontiff batted .250 with 11 hits and one RBI.
His achievements at LSU and prior to playing collegiate baseball include:

  • 2002 Second-Team All-Southeastern Conference
  • 2002 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional All-Tournament Team
  • 2002 Verizon District VI All-Academic Team
  • 2002 Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll
  • 2001 First-Team All-Southeastern Conference
  • 2001 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional All-Tournament Team
  • 2001 Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll
  • 2000 Southeastern Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player
  • 2000 Collegiate Baseball Honorable Mention Freshman All-American
  • 2000 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional All-Tournament Team


     Wylde added that the Wareham players inscribed Pontiff’s uniform number – 31 – on their hats, or his initials, “WP.”


     “It is almost certain we are going to retire his uniform number,” Wylde said.



Wally Pontiff 1980-2002
Walsh/CCBL 2001

--Sean Walsh/CCBL 2002