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Buettner is memorialized

Former Springstead catcher is remembered before Central game.

By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 15, 2003


SPRING HILL -- It will take time to work through the hurt. But this helped.

Luke Buettner, a former catcher who graduated from Springstead in 1996, was memorialized by family and friends before the Eagles' game against Central on Friday night, almost a month after he died in a car accident in Sarasota. Buettner, 24, was remembered as a dedicated, hard-working player in a 15-minute ceremony in which an annual award bearing his name was unveiled. More than 12, including his father, Jim, and mother, Carol, were in attendance.

The Buettners were presented with a stencil drawing of their son, and a wooden placard bearing his likeness was affixed to the Eagles' dugout fence. Jim was surprised by the outpouring of affection from the Springstead program so long after his son left it.

"It's amazing," Jim said. "He graduated in '96, and to have that much impact and influence seven years later is amazing.

"But this is that kind of community in Spring Hill. Those young men out there (during the ceremony), he knew them from first grade and T-ball and some of them through college."

Luke Buettner batted .395 and threw out 80 percent of runners on steal attempts his senior season with the Eagles, and he was conference player of the year at Daytona Beach Community College. Buettner was working as a bartender in Sarasota at the time of his death.

"This game meant a lot to Luke," ex-Springstead teammate Kip Fleming said. "It was everything, just like his friends, just like his family. Everything he did, he did with love and passion."

The Luke Buettner Memorial Award, to be given annually to the Eagles player demonstrating "outstanding team effort, strong moral character and performance on and off the field" according to its inscription, was awarded to senior John DeSenso. "With Luke, you look at quality because the quantity of his life was so short," former Springstead coach Chuck Moehle said. "He was just a quality individual. ... He was a sweetheart of a kid."

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