Donald Dutchover, known to his friends as “Dutch,” was coaching baseball for the Warwick National Little League (WNLL) in April when he suddenly didn’t feel well. He visited a doctor, who diagnosed him with cancer two days later. Within eight weeks, he passed away.
Dutchover, who worked as a construction superintendent for O. Ahlborg & Sons, Inc. and was a member of Carpenters Local 94, was only 57. He left behind three sons, including Nicholas, 13, a student at Aldrich Junior High.
“Our focus is to try and help Nick,” said David Palumbo, Warwick National Little League president and Providence Firefighter. “He and his mom have fallen on hard times.”
While they haven’t asked for help, Palumbo wants to do something to assist. That’s why the WNLL is planning a pasta dinner fundraiser at the Knights of Columbus at 475 Sandy Lane on Oct. 18 from 6 p.m. to midnight.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Palumbo said. “I am a firefighter and it’s a brotherhood. When one member is in need, we all help out. I feel the same way about Little League. We all battle each other, but in the end we form a closeness because we’re here for the kids.”
The menu includes pasta, meatballs, salad, bread and butter and dessert.
To raise more funds, the WNLL is also planning the first annual rag ball tournament Oct. 19 and 20. It costs $100 to enter a team of 10, and will take place at WNLL, located at 50 Bend Street.
“Everyone is welcome,” Palumbo said.
Not only was Dutch a great coach and father, his friends say he was quite the character. He was always willing to lend a hand.
“He was the kind of guy that would do anything for anybody with no questions asked or expectations,” said former WNLL President Bob Creamer, who was Dutch’s neighbor for 12 years. “If you had something you needed help with, he was there.”
Creamer said a perfect example was the time he was having issues removing arborvitaes from his yard. He was using a shovel and a pickaxe, a process that would have taken at least three weeks if not for Dutch’s help.
“I come home from work the next day and he’s in my backyard with a backhoe pulling them out,” Creamer said. “I had known the guy for about a week.”
Palumbo also has fond memories of Dutch. Many of those memories were made on the baseball field.
“His son hit the winning home run in the 11-year-old all-star game in 2012,” said Palumbo. “Dutch was upstairs doing the scoreboard for us and I remember he almost fell through the scoreboard he was so happy.”
Palumbo agrees that Dutch was generous with his time and skills, as he helped build the WNLL clubhouse and took part in other projects.
According to Shawn O’Neil, a coach for WNLL, that generosity extended beyond the WNLL.
“He was also very involved with basketball over at the Boys and Girls Club,” O’Neil said. “Our sons played on the same team for a couple years.”
Palumbo, Creamer and O’Neil said watching Dutch’s health suddenly decline was heart-wrenching. He was experiencing severe exhaustion, shortness of breath and weight loss.
“It was pretty sad,” said Palumbo. “He was able to work a 10-hour shift non-stop and then he’d throw at batting practice for five minutes and couldn’t breathe. He went from
260 pounds to probably a buck fifty.”
One of the last times he saw Nicholas play baseball, Dutch had trouble making it to the field. He could barely walk.
“But he wanted to see his son play,” Palumbo said. “I think watching his son play was his peace of mind in life.”
Dutch was a WNLL coach for at least seven years. Each year was special to him, as was every child.
“He loved the kids,” Creamer said.
Outside of baseball, said Creamer, everyone in their neighborhood knew him. Dutch’s garage was the place to be.
“If you go out for a walk and you go by his house, you turn a 20-minute walk into an hour-and-a-half walk because you stop at his garage,” said Creamer. “Dogs would walk by and sit on the corner of his lawn until he came out with biscuits. All the dogs knew where to stop.”
In terms of the fundraisers, the men said the response they’ve gotten from little leagues and sports organizations throughout the state has been “unbelievable.” They are pleased that so many people are reaching out to make both events successful.
Palumbo said Warwick Vets English teacher Cindy Rix, who heads the Senior Leadership Program at the school, along with student Stephen Dennis, has been particularly helpful, as students are volunteering their time to operate the snack bar and assist with cleanup the day of the tournament.
“He used to play for Warwick National, and his father coached with Dutch,” Palumbo said of Dennis. “He came to us and organized Vets helping out. He’s been a big help with the rag ball tournament. And there are people who are going out of their way to help who have never even met Dutch.”
One of those people is Gary Costantino of the George Schmeider Memorial Association. Palumbo said Costantino called him, asking if he needed assistance.
“It’s a nice feeling to know that people really care,” said Palumbo.
Prizes will be raffled at the pasta event, including four tickets to a Boston Red Sox game, and more.
Pleasure-Sounds Unlimited, located at 1305 Hartford Avenue in Johnston, will provide music for the night at no cost, while Rigatoni’s Family Restaurant at 1229 Warwick Avenue supplied all the food for the evening at a generous discount.
And parents of WNLL players have also pitched in.
“People made all kinds of desserts for free,” he said.
To purchase tickets for the dinner, which are $15 for adults, $10 for children and free for children under 4, contact Palumbo via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 345-0400. Tickets are available at the door, and by mail. Checks, made payable to WNLL, can be mailed to David Palumbo at 2086 Cranston Street, Cranston, Rhode Island, 02920. Donations are also being accepted. All proceeds will benefit Nicholas Dutchover.
Those interested in the rag ball tournament should call Eric Asordorian, vice president of WNLL, at 378-2162.