Bob Wagner
Mar. 27, 1932 - Oct. 17, 2001
Bob Wagner

In May 1998, another baseball connection, Ed Nottle, asked Bob to be the spring training pitching coach of the Sioux City Explorers in the independent Northern League. In May 1999, "Dirty" Al came calling again and Bob spent spring training with him as the pitching coach of the Madison Black Wolf in the Northern League. Finally in the summer of 2000 "Dirty" Al asked Bob to be the Black Wolf bullpen coach for the Northern League season and later was promoted to pitching coach. Bob enjoyed coaching in the independent leagues and helping young ballplayers learn the game of baseball.

In January 2001 while participating in the Wooden Bat Classic, Bob was hit in the chest by a pitch while batting. A couple weeks later during the Red Sox Fantasy Camp in Ft. Myers, FL Bob was having difficulty swallowing but continued to play. In fact, Bob pitched 6 1/3 innings of one hit ball in the championship game of the fantasy camp and got the victory. Not known at the time, it was the last game Bob played.

Above: Bob Wagner scouting talent.
Still feeling the effects of being hit by the pitch, or so he thought, Bob went to the doctor in early March 2001. After extensive testing, a tumor was discovered on his
esophagus believed to have been caused by acid reflux. Chemo therapy and radiation treatments were started soon after the diagnosis and in July two surgeries were performed to try and correct the esophageal cancer. Unfortunately the cancer was too far advanced and Bob's health began to deteriorate. On October 17, 2001 Bob passed away at the age of 69.
Bob loved the game of baseball and stayed involved by playing and coaching throughout his life. Bob was fortunate enough to have enjoyed many wonderful experiences in the baseball world. Wanting to give back to the game, Bob worked on creating his own "fantasy camp" for ball players 30 yrs. and older. In January 1997, the Wooden Bat Classic was born. It was an instant success and has grown every year. With it's success, Bob went west and held three Reno Classics before he lost his battle to cancer. Bob would be delighted with the growth of the Ft. Myers Wooden Bat Classic and the creation of the Southwest Florida Spring Fling and the joy it has given to many ball players of all ages.
Bob Wagner
Right: Bob as the pitching coach for the Madison Black Wolf in June 2000.
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Southwest Florida Spring Fling
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