'A pleasure to be around': Late pitcher is recalled

Posted: August 10, 2007

Keith Gorman will probably dial Richie Gargel's cell phone number by accident sometime soon.

Communicating with Gargel over the phone or via e-mail was something the Holy Spirit High School baseball coach often looked forward to.

If he does call, however, Gorman won't hear the refreshing laughter or read a funny e-mail response from one of his favorite former baseball players.

Gargel, a Temple University pitcher and former Holy Spirit standout, died Wednesday in Sartell, Minn., two days after he was injured while swimming, police said. He was 19 years old.

The St. Cloud Times reported that the sophomore lefthander was found early Monday underwater in a pool at a residence in Sartell. At 2:05 p.m. Wednesday, he was pronounced dead at St. Cloud Hospital, the paper reported. The cause of death had not been determined. An autopsy will be performed by the Ramsey County medical examiner.

Gargel was in Minnesota playing for the St. Cloud River Bats of the NCAA-sanctioned Northwoods League.

"It's hard to believe," Gorman said of Gargel's death. "He was fantastic, just a pleasure to be around.

"Every time I have my summer camp, he's going to be one of the first kids that I'll think about calling. Whenever we have workouts here, he's going to be one of the first people I'll think about calling."

Gargel didn't just leave an impression with his former coach.

"The entire Temple University community is saddened by this tragedy," Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw said yesterday in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Gargel family during this very difficult time."

Richie Gargel, a native of Brigantine, N.J., appeared in 20 games as a freshman pitcher for the Owls last season, striking out 26 batters in 302/3 innings.

Gargel was 1-0 in four appearances for the River Bats after joining the team on July 21. He picked up his victory in his final appearance, on Aug. 4, allowing one earned run in five innings pitched of an 8-4 victory.

"Richie was an outstanding baseball player and big part of the Temple baseball family," Temple baseball coach Rob Valli said in a statement. "He will be sorely missed by everyone that came in contact with him.

"We were fortunate to have had him as a teammate and friend for this past year. My thoughts and prayers are with Richie's family, and we will continue to support them in any way we can."

Gargel is survived by his parents, Richard and Sherry, three sisters, Hannah, Breana and Monica, and a brother, Harrison.

The Gargels were in Minnesota yesterday attending a private memorial service. According to Gorman, funeral arrangements were pending.

"It's been very, very tough and a sad time for us, the whole community, the [Holy Spirit] baseball team and the school," Gorman said. "It's just hard to think that he's not here anymore."

Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or kpompey@phillynews.com.

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