In a hospital room along with his 81-year-old mother, sister, wife and aunt, Dan Hartleb grabbed his iPad to follow the game just as his Illini were about to take on Northwestern without him.
The Illinois baseball coach and his family were gathered around his father, Dan C. Hartleb, who was in hospice care in Ohio following a high-risk surgery.
Just as Hartleb had launched the Gametracker app to check up on his team in Evanston, his mother announced she wanted memorials in her husband’s name to be sent to Illinois baseball’s Dugout Club.
“As soon as she said that,” Hartleb recalled, “he opened his eyes.”
At that moment, they all gathered around the hospital bed. Within two minutes, Mr. Hartleb had passed away. He was 86.
“What was amazing is it wasn’t until we were all in the room — and it was right before the first pitch — that he had passed,” Hartleb said.
That was the climax of a grueling three-week stretch for Hartleb that saw him spend time away from his team, which just wrapped up one of the most successful regular seasons in his nine years at the helm, to make frequent trips to and from the Cincinnati area to be with his family.
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