Mark Schlemmer: A tough, tough guy to the very end

By Hal McCoy

There are tears in my eyes and my heart is burdened with sadness as I sit in front of my laptop.

Words are supposed to come easy for me, but they are stuck in my throat.

For the second time in less than a week, a dear friend has departed. First it was Mike Pratt and now it is Mark Schlemmer.

Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

Schlemmer, a long-time sports talk show host and former University of Dayton baseball coach and minor league manager, passed away this morning in hospice care.

Schlemmer was one of the toughest guys I ever knew. He fought hard for several years with an assortment of ailments, any one of which would floor anybody else. And never once did I hear him complain or say, “Why me?”

He was heavily opinionated and not afraid to voice them and defend them. His Facebook page was extremely popular, especially his Sunday Sermons and his Sunday list of one-sentence pieces of advice.

He was a devout Cincinnati Bengals fan and a non-lover of the Cleveland Browns, so we had many lively discussions on the merits and detriments of our favorite teams.

And he and I made daily horse racing picks for fun from tracks all around the country. He loved long shots while I stuck to horses that had a chance.

Often I would pick four winners on a card and he would pick one winner, but that long shot would pay more than my four winners and he would say, “Always nice to hit a Hail Mary.”

The last time I saw Mark was at a breakfast at Mom’s Restaurant in Franklin — Mark, me, Ray Snedegar, Hutch Konerman of channel 2, Mark’s brother and Justin Kinner, Mark’s co-host on their WING sports talk show.

We sat at a long table in the middle of the restaurant devouring omelets and jabbering about sports. Mark ate half his omelet and took the rest home.

When he retired from WING a couple of years ago, his health already was failing. He didn’t believe he could write, it was even difficult for him to type.

He asked my advice and I encouraged him to keep writing on his Facebook page. And he did it, daily, with many, many posts a day about the sports world. He did it while in a hospital bed, never letting on the pain he was enduring.

He thanked me over and over for my encouragement, but it was Mark who everybody should thank for him entertaining us right up to a month or so ago when it was no longer possible.

He and I shared a love for dogs and he worshipped his rescue dog, Areola, The Wonder Dog. Photos of the pooch appeared often on Marks Facebook page.

And his photos? Never without a baseball cap perched on his head.

There were some very hard times in the recent past that had nothing to do with his health. He needed help and some friends stepped forward, especially his good friend, Donna Grusenmeyer, who devoted so much of her time to help him out in so many ways. In effect, she was his guardian angel.

Mark, my dear friend, I miss you already. For so long, like your long shot horses, you beat the odds. You were one tough hombre. And now it’s time to rest in peace. After the battle you fought, you deserve it.

13 thoughts on “Mark Schlemmer: A tough, tough guy to the very end”

  1. Hal…well said…Mark not only had a following…but he connected with many of us…who’s gonna send me to his penalty box? He will be missed! Houlegan

    1. We will miss Coach. You brought us all to UD to play baseball, become students, friends, and successful men in many places.
      I personally became a baseball coach and know there are some out you in me and many others.
      Brian Harlamert

  2. Sad news indeed! Mark was a wonderful friend and had a way of making everyone feel special, donning us all with nicknames. We enjoyed talking Reds baseball, and like you Hal, he was generous with his wealth of knowledge. I will miss you Mark. Until we meet again, rest in Heaven.
    As ever,
    Your “Sweet Stacey K”

  3. Mark was a very good friend. He promoted my weekly trivia shows, would message me when i was sick to check on me, and would ask about my family almost daily last summer when my brother passed. Mark gave me my nickname Travko because he knew i hated zack cozart, so he called me Travkozart. Mark also knew of my love for Jon Kitna, and he always told me to “point to the sky” when i said Jon Kitna, well from now on Mark, when i say your name, i will point to the sky, because i know you’re up there discussing sports with some of the all time greats. YOU, my friend were an all time great and will be dearly missed here.
    Your Pal,

  4. True ambassador of all sports! He signed me at Dayton, Managed me in Sioux city, Iowa and just a true friend …. He will be missed !✝️⭐️

  5. Nice tribute to a true Miami Valley Sports classic from a HOF writer. RIP, Schlemmy. Thanks for always making me laugh.

  6. Coach was the reason why I transferred to UD. Coached me there and at Grand Forks, ND. We stayed friends and would talk often. I’m glad I was able to see him last August and he was able to meet my son. This hurts and Coach will be missed.

  7. I use to listen to Mark when he was on 980 WONE. I really enjoyed listening to him talk sports and other things he was a funny guy. I never had the nerve to call his show but always wanted to. I was unhappy when they took Mark off the air. And then I found him on Facebook he excepted as a friend on Facebook and in life. I enjoyed talking sports with him on FB he never made me feel stupid with any question I would ask. I kind of introduced him to my friend Shane when I shared a post from Mark about Shane’s Browns it was not a kind post. Shane asked me who was he douchbag was and I explained that his a sports talk guy on the radio. Well they became friends also even though Mark would talk poorly about the Browns. And Shane got his nickname Summers Eve after Shane called him a douchbag. So Shane and I decided we wanted to man himself have a couple of beers and talk sports. We met up with him a couple times and asked him to give me a nickname and he said give him a couple days and came up with Tidy Whiting. It wasn’t a flattering nickname but nonetheless it came from Mark so I was happy. I would have to say meeting him for the first time was like meeting a celebrity but after getting know him was like talking to an old friend he made everyone feel that way. We hadn’t talked much since he retired from radio I feel bad about that I wish I had one last change to talk with him. Mark Rest In Peace buddy your no longer in any pain. Until we meet again your friend Tidy Whiting

  8. Mark Schlemmer called me the night before his surgery and shared with me that he was afraid. All I could think to tell him was that it was going to be alright….and that we all loved him and were pulling for him to come thru with flying colors. Oh how I wish that had happened. I am going to miss him so very much. He helped me a ton whether it was posting my events on his page or an encouraging call after my stroke. He was truly a great friend indeed. RIP Mark.

  9. Schlem called me one summer day after he got the UD job and asked me where he could find a pitching coach. I said I’m available and he gave me the chance to be a college coach. Was lucky enough to sit in with him on his Wone radio show . The stories we told during breaks were the best. What a true character.

  10. I’m terrible about doing this…..Words/Thoughts come out of my mouth,But,Skip was simply a cool guy……He is/was “High Cotton”!!!!RIP Brother!!!!?

  11. A lot of people didn’t know me in Skip’s close circle. He was an integral part of my life. Around 2015, I reconnected with Mark after being a regular caller in his WONE days. He confided in me that at the time he was homeless. I was completely gobsmacked. He amd I met up for lunch a few days later. It was my first time meeting him in person. I was in awe. His knowledge and experiences of all things sports was endless. After that day we became very close friends and always stayed in contact. We even took a road trip together in 2015 to see my best friend get married in Illinois. He stayed with me for a couple weeks that year until he could finally get his own place. I have lovingly made fun of him, but John Ortez saved Mark’s life by finally giving him a stable home to live in. I spent time with him at his home, and even did a podcast with him in 2016. We always stayed in contact and he told me things he never wanted anyone to know. I could go on forever about the friendship between him and I. I will close with this. I love you Skip. Anyone who knew him knows who was waiting to see him again.

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