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August 19, 2013

‘He was someone we all looked up to’

Teammates embraced Lane’s Charisma

DUNCAN — He played on both sides of the globe, but no matter where he took the field, Chris Lane always left the same impression.

Great team leader. The guy in the dugout that everyone wanted to be around. A loving smile that could light up a room.

That’s how those closest to Lane, an Australian native who was shot and killed in Duncan Friday, remember him as an athlete, teammate and friend.

“Chris was like a brother to many of us, he was someone we could all learn something from,” Duncan native and Lane’s teammate at Redlands Community College Kale Thaxton said. “He was one of my best friends, so easy to like and he could start a conversation with anybody. He always had a smile on his face that would light up the room. He was someone we all looked up to.”

While he had no plans of playing baseball as a career, Lane made his mark on the sport at an early age. His father Peter Lane put it best – “he played for the love of it.” Lane got noticed by Redlands Community College head coach Mark Newgent, who flew across the world to Melbourne, Australia to meet with Lane and his family to sign him.

“I believe people are born to lead, and getting to know Chris in Australia, I knew pretty early on that he had the personality and charisma to be a leader,” Newgent said. “He was a good baseball player, but his physical abilities were overshadowed by his leadership skills. He was just the best. He could see where other players were coming from, speak to them in his own way, and calm them down in key situations.”

Upon joining the Cougars, Lane made an immediate impact, batting .280 with five doubles and hour home runs while playing catcher for two years.

But it wasn’t just the statistics that Lane’s teammates remember him for.

“His leadership was really something that stood out,” Thaxton said. “He made us want to play as hard as we could. Playing with him was something I always enjoyed.”

“Laney,” as his teammates called him, had come to play in the United States with aspirations to play ball at a four-year university. That dream became a reality before his junior year when the 6-foot, 185-pound catcher transferred to East Central University. Lane continued to make an impact on the field that season, batting .250 with nine runs scored.

“When I think about Chris Lane, I think about a young man with a kind heart and a magnetic personality. I am a better man for Chris having been a part of my life. He was a tireless worker on the and off the field,” East Central University head coach Dino Rosato said. “He was an absolute joy to coach.You would never know if he was having a bad day because he always had the 'Chris Lane smile on.’”

While playing for the Tigers, Lane was studying business with hopes of getting into the real estate industry in Australia or the United States.

A Tampa Bay Rays fan who loved to watch third baseman Evan Longoria play, Lane also grew up playing basketball.

“He was a very talented athlete, he was a very talented junior footballer as well,” Lane’s father Peter Lane told the Herald Sun. “He picked baseball because it gave him a chance to go to college.”

While in Australia, Lane played with the Essendon and Watsonia baseball clubs and St. Bernard’s High School.

“Essendon Baseball Club is deeply saddened by the passing of Christopher Lane,” the club said in a statement. “Chris was a truly talented and highly respected young man whose friendship was valued by all who had the good fortune to know him.”

The club’s match against Melbourne University Sunday was dedicated to Lane.

Lane’s passion for the game spanned across the globe.

“He was always a competitor, always willing to give things a go,” St Bernard’s High School director of sport Craig Osborne told the Herald Sun. “He was a natural athlete.”

East Central University and Trinity Baptist Church have organized a memorial fund for Lane. Donations in memory of Lane can be sent to Bank of the West at 606 East Main Street, Ada, OK, 74820.

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