More than 200 people came together Friday night for a pasta dinner in honor of Donald “Dutch” Dutchover, who suddenly passed away to cancer in June at the age of 57.
Dutchover, a baseball coach for the Warwick National Little League (WNLL), was known as someone who always offered help to family and friends, and even strangers, without being asked. That’s why his friends at WNLL planned the dinner, as well as a rag ball tournament, which took place this weekend.
According to WNLL President David Palumbo, he hoped to raise $5,000 to donate to Dutchover’s son, Nicholas, 13, a student at Aldrich Junior High. To Palumbo’s delight, they well exceeded their goal.
“It was a good weekend,” said Palumbo, noting that past and present WNLL players attended the events to support Nicholas. “It all came together really nice.”
Nicholas agreed. He said he had a lot of fun at the events and is grateful that people not only want to honor his father, but also help him.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” he said.
WNLL players Daniel Tanguay, 11, and Nick Follett, students at Hoxsie Elementary, attended the dinner. Daniel said Dutchover was one of his favorite coaches.
“I liked his coaching style the best,” said Daniel. “At practices, he would visit me and help me. He would always check on everyone. He was like my best friend.”
While Nick said he didn’t know Dutchover well, he still wanted to show his support.
“I heard that he was really nice and helped kids out,” said Nick.
Rhode Island State Trooper Rick Swanson, who is also the commissioner of Warwick Police Athletic League (PAL) Wrestling, said that was definitely the case. He said Dutch will always be remembered for his generosity.
“He was always there when you needed him,” said Swanson.
Palumbo agreed. Not only is he impressed by Dutchover’s kindness and thoughtfulness, he is grateful to the WNLL and the local community for making both events successful.
“We are blessed with a good community,” Palumbo said. “A lot of people helped out.”
He went on to thank several donors, including Rigatoni’s Family Restaurant for supplying the food at the pasta dinner at a substantial discount, as well as Pleasure-Sounds Unlimited for providing music at no cost.
As for the rag ball tournament, Palumbo praised Warwick Vets students and staffers for their assistance, as well as Jersey Mike’s Subs, Elmwood Sports, and parishioners from St. Gregory Church, especially George Russell, who donated three signed baseballs by former Major League Baseball (MLB) player Curt Schilling. While two of the signed balls were raffled, Russell gave one to Nicholas.
Palumbo also thanked Extra Innings, a year-round indoor baseball and softball training facility at 69 Illinois Avenue, as they donated six baseball lessons to Nicholas. Staffers from Extra Innings participated in and won the rag ball tournament with the help of four professional players with local connections, including Zack Zuercher, Danny Rhault, Sean Furney and Chris Costantino.
“We kind of had an unfair advantage, but it was good to get out there and play for the community,” Costantino said.
But that’s not all. Palumbo also said a woman stopped him while he was grocery shopping to make a $20 donation.
“We’re going to take Nick shopping this week,” he said.