Campus & Community / News

DU club baseball to honor fallen student

Joe Lubar pitches in a DU club baseball game last season.

When the University of Denver club baseball team takes the field May 8, one name will be missing from the lineup, but not from the hearts of scores of friends, family and teammates.

Joe Lubar—a 21-year-old junior and team leader remembered for his even temperament and quiet leadership—died Feb. 11 from injuries suffered in a skiing accident Jan. 25.

The DU club team will honor Lubar at the Mother’s Day game at 1:30 p.m. against Colorado College at All-City Stadium, located just off the DU campus near Denver’s South High School.

Prior to the game, the team will retire the right-handed pitcher’s No. 9 and his jersey after Lubar’s younger brother, Patrick, throws out the first pitch. Admission to the game is free, and club general manager Marissa Yandall says Lubar’s family and friends are traveling from their homes in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota to be part of the memorial.

Lubar’s mother, Madeleine Lubar, says the family is touched by the support it has received from the DU community.

“We are especially moved by all that the DU baseball club has done to comfort us. The upcoming baseball game in Joe’s memory is the most fitting way imaginable to celebrate who Joe was, the game he loved and the strong relationships he formed with the terrific group of guys who make up the DU Pioneers club baseball team, including of course, Mari Yandall, the team manager,” she says. “Thirty members of Joe’s extended family and some friends are traveling to Denver from Minneapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee to enjoy an afternoon of baseball, spend time with his teammates and other friends and to remember Joe. We are grateful for this opportunity.”

Team coach Jared Floyd says that in just two seasons, Lubar had quietly emerged to become an ace pitcher for the team.

“He was probably the most quiet, confident kid I’ve ever met, a lead-by-example kind of guy. He was the kid I least had to worry about. He was great at school, never missed practice, never missed a game, never complained about bad outings,” Floyd says. “He was not a power pitcher. He was little in stature, but he had a great change-up, great off-speed pitches. He could locate with everything, that’s what made him so good.”

Losing Lubar was tough for the club, Floyd says, especially as teammates waited and hoped he would recover while he was hospitalized for weeks after the crash.  

“The team took it horribly. At first no one knew what to do—we all were thinking he’s a fighter so he’s going to come through,” Floyd says. “When he passed, we didn’t really know how to react as a team, we wanted to be there for him and his family. It was hard, but once we were able to get together as a team, it really made us stronger. We came together as a team. I’ve never seen 16 guys rally around something and someone as much as they did. And his family was fantastic, so supportive of us, and I think of them now as part of my own family.”

Catcher Zack Straus remembers Lubar’s fierce determination and competitive streak.

“He was a true pitcher. There is not a single time I can remember him backing down from a batter. He would take the sign and throw the pitch—usually exactly where I asked him to. Joe was quiet but one of the most fierce competitors I have ever played with,” Straus says. “I miss our conversations between innings on the mound. Joe would always have something funny or reassuring to say. If I dropped a third strike or missed a block allowing a run to score, Joe would always tell me it was his fault. Joe was one of the best teammates and baseball players I have ever had the pleasure to share the field with. I miss him every time I step between the lines.”

Yandall says she’s hoping for a strong turnout. And while alcohol is not allowed at the stadium, she says friends, family and supporters plan to tailgate with food and soft drinks before the game in a show of community and camaraderie.

“Joe was a quiet leader. He cared a lot about the team and he just had this calming presence,” she says. “His death just touched us all, it changed us. I think we all value the time we have with each other a little more.”

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