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NU alum throws first pitch in son’s memory, presents senior award

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John Trautwein throws out the first pitch. The former Northwestern and professional pitcher presented the Paul Stevens Life Teammates Award to NU senior Connor Lind on May 18.

John Trautwein throws out the first pitch. The former Northwestern and professional pitcher presented the Paul Stevens Life Teammates Award to NU senior Connor Lind on May 18.

Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

John Trautwein throws out the first pitch. The former Northwestern and professional pitcher presented the Paul Stevens Life Teammates Award to NU senior Connor Lind on May 18.

Alison Albelda, Reporter

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Baseball


Ask any Northwestern baseball fan about John Trautwein and they will say he’s thrown a lot of important pitches in his life.

Trautwein (Weinberg ’84) started 49 games in his Wildcat career, the fourth most in history for Cats pitchers. He pitched 282.1 innings in his career and secured 22 wins for the program. Following his graduation, Trautwein played one season with the Boston Red Sox in 1988, a year in which the Red Sox won the American League East.

But when Trautwein returned to the NU pitcher’s mound on May 18, 34 years after his final pitch for the Cats, the pitch he threw was arguably more meaningful than all those before.

Daily file photo by Alison Albelda
John Trautwein presents Connor Lind with the Paul Stevens Life Teammates Award. Lind, a Northwestern senior, was chosen for the award by his teammates.

Trautwein came to Miller Park to present an award on behalf of the Will to Live Foundation, an organization his family founded for mental health awareness and prevention, ahead of NU’s 6-5, 10-inning loss to Belmont.

Seven and a half years ago, the Trautweins’ oldest child, Will, a freshman in high school at the time, took his own life. Trautwein said Will was “strong, healthy and popular” and that they had “no idea” he was struggling with mental health issues.

“We were just so stunned and started to learn more about mental illness and depression and teen suicide and just how prevalent it was,” Trautwein said.

After learning statistics about mental illness, such as suicide being the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 24, the Trautwein family started the Will to Live Foundation.

“The main mission was to spread awareness of teen suicide so that families like mine would understand that their seemingly perfect kids might not be happy,” Trautwein said. “Their kids might be suffering from some sort of illness that is treatable and beatable, but not unless you have the tools and know.”

Trautwein presented the 2018 Paul Stevens Life Teammates Award to senior Connor Lind. The team annually votes on a senior who demonstrates leadership on and off the field for the award, which is named after former NU coach Paul Stevens.

Coach Spencer Allen described Lind as a “great” mentor for both younger teammates and his class alike.

“(Lind) is just a good person who had the right balance of work ethic on the field but took care of business in the classroom,” Allen said. “We will miss him a lot just as a leader by example.”

In his final season, Lind ended with 29 hits and 16 RBIs.

Lind said he tried to be a role model for his peers and connect with his teammates on and off the field.

“When I look back at being a baseball player at Northwestern, these relationships and bonds I have mentioned will be the things that I will forever cherish and will last a lifetime,” Lind said. “There are a lot of ups and downs (in baseball) and a lot of things that are out of your control, and what I tried to do … is be a really good teammate, because that is something that you can control.”

The Will to Live Foundation emphasizes communication between teammates and friends about mental health. Trautwein travels nationwide to speak on behalf of the foundation at schools, organizations and communities, with his most recent event being at Wake Forest University.

“It was my life teammates from Northwestern, from that 1984 team and my classmates here, that along with my high school teammates really came to my rescue during our hour of need when we lost Will,” Trautwein said. “Being here at Northwestern and having this life teammate award is really special to me because it is the birthplace of the foundation’s mission.”

Email: alisonalbelda2021@u.northwestern.edu

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