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Tuesday, 16 August 2005 2PM

We came to Sydney last night and stayed in Kings Cross. This morning we went to Homebush and I put up a picture of Leigh where he died. Two-years ago Leigh had flown from Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida to Sydney to attempt to win back his off and on girlfriend, Veronica. They had been together for three or so years. I remember when he first met her in early 1999. It was a few days before Leigh went to South Africa with the Australian Under-16 National Team. When he came back a couple of weeks later he began his relationship with Veronica in earnest. We (Sacha, Leigh and I) were living in Christie Downs and Leigh and Sacha were at Wirreanda High School. Leigh was getting his first few recruits from professional baseball teams (Atlanta Braves, Arizona, Cleveland, at the time we were leaning toward Arizona), Sacha was getting more involved with his art and music and I was in my first years of my PhD. The future looked different than it has turned out but that is most of humanities fate – we only head in directions and destinations are often quite different than originally thought.

Leigh had not said anything to the Dodgers the afternoon he left. From his five-thousand words letter left on his computer and sent to Veronica his decision to go to Sydney was not premeditated. Though he did say he could no longer live without her. From what I have pieced together he booked his ticket and flew on his frequent flyer points the fifteenth of August. The night before he left he went with his Dodger’s team-mates to a game between the Dodgers and the Marlins.

The Dodgers lost that game 5 to 4 in the 13th inning. Which meant that the Florida Marlins laid claim to sole possession of the Wild Card lead for the season.

Ramon Castro's walk-off homer off Paul Shuey with two outs in the 13th inning lifted the Marlins to a 5-4 win over the Dodgers, ending an exhausting 4-hour, 5-minutes marathon in front of 12,025 at Pro Player Stadium

What thoughts were in his head during that game? I wonder if he knew that his life would end soon. That he would fly to Sydney and never return? Did he watch the game and realize that he was no longer interested in baseball? Did he think it was too far to go to get to the majors? Did he see the Dodgers as a losing team and that he was losing in life? It was a four-hour game in front of 12,025 people in a stadium built to hold 36,331. The average attendance for 2003 was 16,290 so Leigh may have found he was alone in a huge place. I keep his Dodgers Member entry card on the string he would have worn around his neck next to my desk at home in Round Lake. It seems that if Leigh was of an ill mood which it appears he was, then spending so long at a game when his team lost and not many people were there would just have made him feel worse. The Dodgers lost the next night’s game too, 2-1 but Leigh didn’t go to that game, he was headed for Australia.

At the time Leigh was in rehab because of a sore shoulder but from the Dodger’s records he was due to go back into the pitching rotation of the South Georgia Waves.

South Georgia Waves (A)


Leigh Neuage -- Placed on the Disabled List.


Leigh Neuage -- Reinstated from Disabled List.


Leigh Neuage -- Placed on the Disabled List.


Leigh Neuage -- Reinstated from Disabled List.


Leigh Neuage -- Placed on Suspended List.


Leigh Neuage -- Reinstated from Suspended List.

From the Dodgers webpage of transaction of the time. When the Dodgers realised he had left the States without permission (he was on a five-year contract) he was put on suspension on the fourteenth and then apparently when he arrived in Sydney he rang them saying he would return and they reinstated him on the fifteenth but he had already died on the sixteenth in Australia which is a day ahead of Florida.

The Dodgers I spoke to said they took him to the game because he was very depressed the day before and they didn’t want to leave him in his room alone for the evening. Leigh took a limousine to Orlando,  and flew via San Francisco to Sydney. Veronica was in the Australian Pop Idol thingy – I think she was in the quarter finals. The contestants were staying at the Novotel across from Olympic Stadium.  Leigh asked for the highest floor room with a balcony and got a suite on the fifteenth floor facing the stadium for Veronica and him. The room had a lounge and a spa. From his credit card records, Leigh had something to eat at 12.30 AM. Veronica says she remembers Leigh waking her up and saying ‘I love you’ and she saw the clock at 4.30 – she thought he was going to the toilet and she went back to sleep. At five-thirty she was a woken by hotel management and police and asked to identify Leigh. Veronica would not say what was going on between them though I know they had broken up several times previously. On the day Leigh arrived – jetlagged and emotionally distraught and on a medication a Dodger’s psychiatrist had put him on (Prosaic) he had spent a lot of money on Veronica and she said he rarely spent much money on her or anything – he had paid more than one hundred dollars for lunch and had paid for hundreds of dollars of CDs and pocketbooks for her… she said he was limp when she tried to hug him like he was not there and he acted all day as if was saying goodbye to her – his last photo on his digital camera was a photo he took of himself and it appeared as if had been crying. In his last writing that I found on his computer he had said that he knew since the age of ten that he would one day kill himself and I never knew this – how could I?  He seemed happy and he worked so hard to become a professional baseball player – it was his dream since at eight years old declaring that he would ‘play for the Yankees one day’ – he played for the Dodgers instead but how would an eight year old know that someday he would be a professional baseball player? And especially in a country that instead of baseball played cricket, rugby and Aussie Rules footy (as Narda’s sons do and we go and watch them on Saturdays – last Saturday two of her sons playing in the A grade for Birdwood – beat the number one team, Torrens Valley – and her sons got third and fifth best on field).

I was working on my PhD, putting the final touches on what I had hoped would be my final submission of my 150,000 word thesis (August 16th, 2003 – and here I am finally graduating two years later) when Narda came in to my office at the University of South Australia and put her arms around me and said ‘Leigh is dead’. I hear those words a thousand times a day – words that will never go away. I live my life constantly holding back tears because as a male I do not know how to let them flow in front of others – even Narda, who I am married to and who has a master’s degree in counselling is not allowed to see them.

We took the next flight to Sydney and flew Sacha over from Melbourne. Detective Ryan Malcolm met us at the airport and drove us to a morgue. Detective Malcolm is the best policeman in Australia when it comes to compassion. He even went to where Leigh died last year – a year after the event – he said he would have like to have known Leigh as a person after he spent a year investigating and speaking with all those who knew him. Every once in a while he writes me and asks how am I doing. His assistance to help me get Leigh’s laptop has meant a lot to me.

I did not give birth to Leigh – but I helped deliver him and I was the first to hold him – twenty-years later I was the one to identify what I saw in front of me as the son I raised single-handed. The look on his face was of shock – perhaps somewhere in the two second fall he realised what he was doing was a mistake but it was too late. Leigh’s left hand was very damaged as was the back of his head which he landed on (his brains had been forced out – his brains had made him a skilful pitcher and he had received credit on the Australian Math exams and he was tested and rated in the top ten percent of people his age in intelligence but his brains were no longer contained in his head) but his right hand, his pitching hand, was not even scratched. It was as if he was going to protect that one part of his body that had gotten him to be one of the top junior pitchers of Australia (Leigh was junior South Australian sports player of the year for 2001 and world number one tennis player, Hewett, was the senior sports player of the year that year). His pitching had taken him to many places including South Africa when he was 16, the United States of America (Under 14 World Championship in Saint Louis), Canada for the Under 18 World Championships, Taiwan for the World Cup in 2002 and of course his signing with the Dodgers when he was 17. Whilst growing up I was always concerned that Leigh had a life line that stoped in the middle of his hand – I had never seen that before. Sometimes something like that could mean a person is unhealthy but not Leigh. At six-foot-four and 210 points he was all muscle and seeing Leigh no longer there in that body that he had worked for so long on perfecting is a shock that will never go away. I had been told that at his rate of progress, Leigh was two-years from the majors. He was also on the Australian Olympic team that went to Athens in 2004 but he ended his life in front of the Australian Olympic Stadium a year before he had a chance to go. Leigh had it all going for him except for love and without that he no longer wanted to stay in the world. Leigh’s Dodger team mates at Vero Beach Florida and in Georgia had a moment of silence and tipped their hats to him at their next game and more than two-hundred people attended his wake at his South Australian club, Southern Districts and more than one-hundred people have written tributes to him in an online guestbook. From his emails I found in his Hotmail account he had a lot of friends and his Dodger team mates thought very highly of him. Leigh was loved by a lot of people but at the end he only wanted to be loved by one.

Last year when I went to do a memorial at Homebush Stadium in Sydney for Leigh it was cold and raining. I put up a picture of him and his baseball card and only spent a few minutes there. This year, again I taped his baseball card to the poll next to where he landed. It is a beautiful day NEW SITE = JULY 2014 - - Today – sunny and warm. We only spent a few moments where Leigh landed then we got on this train where I am writing this on our way into the Blue Mountains to Katoomba where we will stay for a few days in a cabin. We didn’t stay at the Novotel last night because I thought it would be too stressful. The last time we stayed was the night Leigh died. I could only stay there one night then we stayed in Sydney until after we cremated Leigh.

There were six of us at a funeral service for Leigh: Sacha, Narda, Lesia her friend Peter, Veronica and me. We had an hour or so there and I forget the name of the place, it is where Michael Hutchinson of INXES fame was buried. It was an awful hour. We all sat silently with our thoughts. We had decided to play “I try” by Macy Grey, a song that made most of us fall apart. It was suppose to have been played at the start but for whatever reason it came on – very loudly – half way through and played over and over, which made us all laugh and lightened up the moment for a moment. We had paid for flowers to cover Leigh’s coffin but they were put in the wrong hearse and did not arrive until close to the end. It just all demonstrated how dysfunctional our lives had been.

 [I had met the mother in Sydney at an astrological conference in January 1980 and we did not get along. She was in the States a few months later and remembered me and rang and said she had just ‘driven across the whole country on the wrong side of the road’ and being the nice person that I am I said she could stay at my house in Baltimore, Maryland for one day on her way to NYC to some TM conference. I was in my last week in my house as I was headed to Hawaii to do an astrological on-air thing – do not exactly remember what – and the only item that was not packed and sent already was my bed and of course we agreed we could not stand each other and sharing a bed was just because there was no where else to stay but somewhere during the night – after a bottle of something or the other – her leg touched mine or visa versa, and after a week in bed we drove to San Francisco and I put her on a plane back to Adelaide and I went on to Hawaii and after a month she rang me and said ‘guess what?’ and then she came there and Sacha was born and one day she made the statement that if I ever wanted to see Sacha again I would go back to Adelaide with her and after arriving in Adelaide she said I was in her home and that was it… then I started a tofu factory and a year later we went to the States for a visit and we had sex once that year (we never did get on with each other really) and that was in Detroit and that was Leigh then after he was born Sacha and Leigh and I lived in my tofu factory then we moved out to the country where we lived in ten different houses in ten years].

I started writing a story to my children about how we got to where we are in life on July 06 2003. I started writing it in Hamburg on our trip to Australia and continued it as we toured Korea, Hong Kong and I wrote in between edits of my thesis in Adelaide – a month later Leigh died and I have written in pieces for the past two-years, with it being about 120,000 words long so far. ‘Leaving Australia’ is a narrative that I currently have been using for therapy of a life of raising two boys in a foreign country by myself and how we got to that point.

Whilst in Sydney, after Leigh died, I call her ‘the witch’, Lesia got stuck into me – I tried so hard to be social – even almost nice – to her – she began yelling at me – the morning of the funeral – something about ‘you kept taking me to court’ and on and on. I had to go to court – I was a foreign male that wanted my children and I was always fighting to have them. Not only that but Lesia was against Leigh playing baseball interstate and overseas – she thought it would affect his schooling – so I was constantly going to court for him but in the end I think he was angry with both Lesia and me – he said as much in his last writings. I use to be so close to him. For awhile I thought he would never walk because he was always wanting to be carried. Sacha was independent from the day he was born but Leigh was always at my side – that is until he met Veronica – then, and I did not mind, I was second. Then after he signed with the Dodgers he became gradually hostile toward me – and that was difficult. He said Lesia had told him I was just after his money which was a crazy thing to say as every cent I ever could get went toward him playing baseball wherever the Australian team was playing.

A couple of hours ago when I put up Leigh’s baseball card on the poll next to where he died I decided that I had to stay at the hotel he last stayed at each year from now on on the 15th  and 16th of August. We are staying there on our last night in Australia before leaving Australia in a couple of weeks. I will be saying goodbye to both of my children then. Sacha is coming to Adelaide for my graduation on the fifth then at six-thirty PM he flies to Melbourne and at 6.35 PM we fly to Sydney so I say goodbye to Sacha then we will stay at the Novotel where Leigh last stayed and the next afternoon we fly back to Albany, New York – getting back at midnight Tuesday night and we will be back at work at Albany Academy the next morning.

And here I am on the train into the Blue Mountains. The last time I was in the Blue Mountains was in January 2001. I had met someone or the other on an Internet chatroom.

It was all very convenient at the time not only because I was a bit on the single side – having watched my six-year relationship with Chris (Kris) Noble end, without, at least my wanting it to – she had said “I need a break from you” and I did not know that meant ‘this is the end’ type of thing. Being the typical male I had not realised that when she wanted to go to house auctions and look for a house for us it meant she wanted to take our relationship to ‘the next level’ but I was so content on living with just Leigh at the time and perhaps that was not enough to sustain a relationship… so I flew to Sydney and met this girl I had been getting on ‘thick and heavy’ with online and what was so convenient was that Leigh was playing in the National championship games in Olympic Stadium (right across the Novotel hotel from which he took his final plunge) playing of course for South Australia. The girl, forget her name, lived in the Blue Mountains, quite a ways past Katoomba, where we are now, past Bathurst – the site of some famous car race, and  - well I don’t remember but it was a grand old small town and she lived in an incredible old large home. She collected me from the airport and took me to her home and the next day we drove back to Sydney to watch Leigh pitch and win against Victoria. It was the last time I would see Leigh pitch. I use to love watching him pitch – in the mid 90s per hour when he was 16 – striking out batter after batter. I have never seen anyone pitch like him – it was a ritual, you knew he was going to strike out the batter from the beginning – he had a unique way. Even when there was a championship game on the line – with Leigh’s team just a run ahead – bases loaded, three balls and two strike count he would move off of the pitchers mound, look around and know he was going to throw a fast ball right past the batter to win the game. I watched him do it many times, from Under-tens up through seniors when he was the youngest player to be playing in A grade. This is not a father saying that but many others who watched him said it too. He had a confidence that he would succeed that is rare amongst humans. Even when he decided he no longer wanted to live, he was not an attempted suicide – he was successful.

I would throw one-hundred pitches with Leigh each morning before school from the time he was 12. By the time he got to 16 I could no longer catch his throws and he would have me sit in a chair and throw a tennis ball – I never once caught his curve balls – no matter how hard I would try. And I got several black and blue spots on my arms and legs to prove I could not catch him – and that is with a tennis ball. With a baseball I would not have him pitch to me but we would do long throws – so far that I would have to bat the ball back to him as I could not throw it as far to get it back to him. But one thing I can say – about such an athlete is that even at six foot four and 210 pounds and with the ability to dunk a basketball (by the way he was an incredible basketball player) I, at the age of 54 beat him in a one-on-one game of basketball. [we won’t dwell on the fact that we played to 21, that he fronted me 20 points, that he managed to tie the score – with each basket being worth one-point, at the score of 20 and that somehow when I had the ball I threw a long shot that somehow went in – giving me the win] I could beat him. I stoped beating him in track when he was about 12 years old but then again he got some South Australia State win in several track events by the time he was fifteen.

Where was I? Oh! The girl I met on the Internet – one of those things people like to read about – sorry – no spicy stuff here – anyway that was the last time I saw Leigh pitch and the last time I was in the Blue Mountains (or saw the girl – though she was an artist who illustrated my children’s story ‘Wombat’ and for a moment we thought she would be my children stories illustrator) – soon after I teed up with Narda – and she met Leigh shortly before he signed with the Dodgers in February 2001 and one time, about the end of February because Leigh went to Spring Training in Vero Beach Florida at the beginning of March, we were together with Leigh and Veronica in Rundle Mall and Leigh and I bought some clothes that were picked out by our women (Veronica and Narda) and then we all had dinner together and that was it – until we were all together again in Sydney in August 2003 – except at that time Leigh was dead. Narda and I got married in May of 2002 – I never told Leigh, he was playing baseball in the States but Sacha was there at our thingy – which I call Jettyday, as we did the deed at the end of a jetty in Adelaide and Sacha gave me away and Narda’s three sons were there and they [happily] gave her away. And Narda and I are one of those rare online meetings that got together and stayed together and here we are in the Blue Mountains years later. What amazes me is how much more I think of Leigh than before he died. I was always with him until he went off to the States to play baseball – except of course when he played in some International tournament – but when he was not with me physically I was not constantly thinking of him – I wonder if this is what others do when someone close to them dies – or takes their own life…  my brother died of AIDES and I thought a lot about him every day for a year or so and both my mothers died (I was adopted) but I never thought that much about them – but Leigh I do not have a moment’s rest from. I really do believe if he could have made it through one more week he would be playing ball now with the Dodgers. I have recurrent dreams that have him in it and it is always the same – he has made some incredible error in life and I am telling him that I will help him get back on track to accomplish what he wants in life. Then of course what is life? He may be so far from our silly little hopes and wishes. No one has come back from the grave – I do not care what religions say [Narda has two sons who are Christian ministers – so far from my sons who I shielded from Christianity after growing up in such a strict religious way] – and now with my current research into nano-biological-live-forever

Current research:

1. GRIN’ s technologies: [Genetics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Nanotechnology (Joel Garreau)] impact on communicational evolutions; how will we translate meaning from sender to receiver if the  ‘decoder’ is inserted in the minds of but a fraction of society? An extension to my PhD thesis: ‘Conversational Analysis of Chatroom’  “talk”

2. Philosophical clashes between longevity (the race to extend life cycles without end) ~ reincarnation and traditional Christianity.

I do not know if it is worth living for a very long time when one’s son has found a different way. Are we kidding ourselves? I know Leigh was reading a lot on different religious thoughts [Buddhist as well as Christian and metaphysical] about afterlife before he died – I wish I could know of his conclusion, then again I do – he gave us his conclusion. (my concern is where is he now? Is he stuck somewhere – I have begun a life-long search for him, wherever he is – if there is a continuation of life – I will one day find him.)  He had said that he was going go off a bridge in Florida but when he went out his door it was raining [this was a couple of weeks earlier] and he wanted to be able to be still and think about his final moments in peace and the rain stoped him and now forever that I am alive I will find my way to the spot that he left earth to not only celebrate his life but to grieve a life that at least to me seemed so confused he could not continue. It is not easy getting to Olympic Stadium – the train is out of the way – it was all build for the Australian Olympics of 2000 - and most people who stay at the Novotel get there by taxi or limo or drive there. And being in Sydney each year on August 16th is not that easy – especially when I live in New York. In August 2003, Narda and I were to leave on Monday, stop in Hawaii for a four-day vacation then go on to New York to work, me at Russell Sage College Troy, New York and State University of New York and Narda at Albany for Girls but instead we were flying to Sydney on Saturday and we never had our vacation in Hawaii. We arrived in Albany and the next day I was facing a class of twenty girls at Russell Sage College at eight AM. I was grieving and did not know how I could face another moment and I had jetlag from twenty-hours since Adelaide but that was nothing to what I was feeling about my losses. Now two-years later I feel just as bad. What amazes me is the level of survival of humans – some humans – they will go through such extraordinary circumstances to survive – we read about them in the news quite frequently – then there is Leigh – never did drugs, was strongly against alcohol – exercised daily – ran heaps -  lifted weights – was smart – listened to subliminal tapes [he even paid five-hundred dollars for one subliminal tape that he received before he died to help become a better pitcher: “Inner Talk” subliminal tapes have as their motto; ‘When Believing in Yourself Matters’ What Do Our Customers Say? And Leigh had been getting subliminal tapes since that age of eleven -

Bedwetting, Nail biting, Breast Enlargement, Clean, Neat and Tidy, Baseball

"I recently purchased an InnerTalk Baseball tape. My batting skills have increased quite a lot since using it."

-         Leigh Neuage, (age 12), Australia.] and his direction in life was to leave this plane. Is there really anything more????

At my graduation, September 05, attended by Sacha, Narda, her parents and a couple of her sisters I will have one empty seat – the last time I graduated was in Geelong – Deakin University – Sacha and Leigh were at that – for my BA and wherever Leigh is there will be a seat at my graduation for him because the reason I did my PhD was to make a better life for my sons. And I know it sounds as if I focus on Leigh but I am as proud and really more so of Sacha because he has overcome incredible circumstances – which I will not discuss in public – to be doing so well – much better than I would have imagined. He will soon surpass both Leigh’s being signed as a professional baseball player and my receiving my PhD. What Sacha is on the brink of accomplishing is really great. I will not say anything more except that it is in the field of music and art.

This has drifted off from saying what it is like in Sydney. Gosh – great city – Blue Mountains - - take the train from Central Station and stay in Katoomba at Sidney’s Retreat. As far as discussing my life with my sons and so much more I will write it in my never ending manuscript ‘Leaving Australia’ – and I have begun a blog – with Leigh being the narrator of the story – he continues his life – he went to Sydney to end his life because his relationship with Veronica was at its end as another youthful relationship come and gone – he flew black to Vero Beach, got ‘right’ with the Dodgers – did his last couple of weeks with the team – went back to Australia to play for the USA winter and the Australian summer (why do I have to always live in winter? Going to Australia in the USA summer which is Australian winter) – playing in the Athens Olympic games for Australia – and low and behold getting Australia into the Silver Medal win – and on and on – as long as I am alive – or at least alive enough to write – Leigh’s day to day or at least sporadically written blog of his life will continue – it is the only way I can continue. I will be able to include whatever is going in the world within his story as I hate futuristic stories as we can not really predict the future as I have recently found out – we can only function within the future as it unfolds within us.

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