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O's hold memorial for Bechler
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02/19/2003 8:57 pm ET 
O's hold memorial for Bechler
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Before the service, flowers and photos of Steve Bechler were placed in the clubhouse. (Roberto Borea/AP)
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Orioles family celebrated the life of right-handed pitching prospect Steve Bechler on Wednesday night with a private memorial service in the clubhouse of the team's Spring Training facility.

The memorial service, which lasted a little more than 30 minutes, began with a non-denominational service led by Rev. David Taylor, who is a chaplain at St. Andrew's School in Boca Raton, Fla.

Steve Bechler dies at 23
Orioles manager Mike Hargrove: 300k
Jim Beattie & Dr. William Goldiner: 300k
Bechler's best friend, Matt Riley: 300k
Hargrove on the club's mood: 300k
Bechler's former manager,
Andy Etchebarren: 300k

Somber players, coaches and team personnel arrived in groups shortly before 6 p.m., only hours after the team had finished practicing for the second straight day since Bechler's death on Monday morning. They silently filed out after the service was over.

Majority team owner Peter Angelos and his wife, Georgia, arrived a few hours before the service started.

"It's a tragedy that really defies definition," said Angelos, who did not speak at the service.

Bechler's pregnant wife, Kiley, stayed in private team offices until minutes before the ceremony when she emerged to embrace Class-A Frederick pitcher Matt Schwager. She smiled when she saw him, and the two chatted for a few seconds. Schwagger played with Bechler in 1999.

A few minutes before the service, a team official escorted Kiley, her mother and her grandmother to the clubhouse. The Bechler family -- parents Ernie and Pat; brother Mike and his wife, Heather; and stepbrother Bowie Rosenburg -- were escorted to the service soon after.

Ernie Bechler wore an Orioles cap and sunglasses to mask his eyes, and Pat Bechler carried a newspaper clipping with her son's picture on the front.

Pat Bechler and Michael Bechler spoke at the ceremony, as did Steve Bechler's close friend, Matt Riley. Pitching instructors Dave Schmidt and Scott McGregor, who is a minister, spoke. Kiley Bechler delivered what Angelos called a 'touching' and 'eloquent' speech.

"[The service] brought, at least this portion of it, to a close," Angelos said.

As Angelos fought back tears, he said Kiley is "a stalwart [and] a special young lady and has suffered a terrible loss. What can you say when somebody dies, particularly that young, with such a great future ahead of you? Words, as I said, are just inadequate."

Team officials were seen carrying bouquets and wreaths of flowers, some of them dyed the Orioles' colors of orange and black, from the personnel office into the clubhouse before the service.

Earlier in the day, the Bechlers watched the team practice behind the stadium on the auxiliary fields, the same place where their son first became ill on Sunday.

After returning to the Orioles' dugout, they said they did not wish to speak to the media and walked inside the clubhouse.

Becky Dubin Jenkins is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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