In Memoriam: Will This Mark the Season’s Return of Father and Son to Bonita Baseball?

February 10, 2010
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Peter Dewhurst and son Tim Dewhurst

Peter Dewhurst and son Tim Dewhurst

The start of spring training evokes powerful memories. The tingle of fresh horsehide in the palm of your hand, the intoxicating scent of freshly cut Bermuda grass and the sight of powdery white chalk lines and finely crushed brick dirt fanning across the infield return a grown man to his youth.

For Peter Dewhurst, father of Timothy Richard Dewhurst who was killed in a solo car accident on Nov. 22, 2008, the spring is bittersweet. For four years, Tim roamed centerfield for the Bonita Bearcats, the same position that current Major Leaguer Jeremy Reed, 28, played before he went on to star at Long Beach State in college and the Seattle Mariners and New York Mets.

On April 19, 2010, Tim would have turned 25.

Anybody who knows Peter knows he was Mr. Baseball at Bonita while his sons Michael and Tim played there. The dugout shelter was partly paid for by Dewhurst. He hasn’t returned to the field since the loss of Tim.

“You think about the old days any time you see a game on TV,” Pete said from his auto repair shop on Arrow, where the back office is filled with dozens of mementoes and tributes to his baseball-playing sons. “You’re emotions go back and forth.”

In this inner sanctum is a picture of Michael, 25, with Jose Lima taken during the 2009 baseball season at Dodger Stadium. Peter and Michael went to see the Dodgers play the New York Mets and watch Reed play. Reed who had a good offensive game ended up throwing the ball away in a bang-bang play at home, giving the Dodgers the victory.

“I saw Jeremy was pretty pissed off,” said Dewhurst, a Bonita graduate himself, who has always spoken frankly. “I could read his emotions on the field.”

After the game, he wrote Reed a letter.

“You may think you had the worst game of your life,” Peter wrote. “But I’m going to tell you, you had the best game of your life. Because that was the first game that me and Michael had ever been to since Tim had died. And the only reason we went was to see you.”

Tim at Bonita graduation

Tim at Bonita graduation

Watching Reed play was a good day. Other days haven’t been so good. Peter’s and Sandy’s daughter, Danielle, couldn’t continue at Bonita after Tim’s accident. She finished her degree through independent study. Michael had a hard time returning to Pomona First Baptist, the church where the funeral was held and attended by hundreds of every stripe, color and profession. “Every time, he sat in church, he would see the funeral, not the service,” said Peter.

Peter’s father had died about six months before Tim’s accident. Making funeral and burial arrangements for Tim, Peter had to call the same funeral director that handled his father’s affairs. “I need your services again,” Peter told him softly.

A few months after Tim was buried next to his grandfather Wesley in the La Verne Cemetery, Peter was struck by a car in the Stater Brothers parking lot in La Verne. The driver broke both his ankles.

Tim’s accident is never more than a memory away. Only last week, the driver responsible for the accident, in which the vehicle “pole vaulted” through the air (“Tim never had a chance.”) before flipping several times, went to jail. Details of the accident on Route 18 in the Lucerne Valley/Big Bear area are still fuzzy. Peter doesn’t know who made the initial 911 call. Tim had been helicoptered out before the sheriff ever arrived, Peter said.

It was on a Saturday morning, Nov. 22, 2008, the time normally reserved for riding when Peter got that tragic knock on the door before collapsing in the arms of the policeman who had delivered the news.

Peter is not judgmental about the accident. “If we all looked back at what we did as young kids, we’re all lucky to be alive,” said Peter, who still pedals his bicycle hundreds of risk-taking miles on both urban streets and mountain highways. “I’m not judgmental of too many people unless some guy is deliberately and blatantly being a stupid idiot.”

Tim Dewhurst coming off the field after another Bonita victory.

Tim Dewhurst coming off the field after another Bonita victory.

Peter’s more upset by Tim’s momentary lapse in judgment. “Kids have to be responsible on their own and say, ‘Who’s driving the car?’ You have to take some personal responsibility yourself.”

Peter said he has only one real regret. Tim was a professional snowboarder, worked on the Big Bear ski patrol, and was a heartbeat away from obtaining his pilot’s license. “He said, ‘Hey dad, do you want to go with me?’ (on a short flight from Brackett), and I was like too busy. I wished I had gone,” Peter said, choking up, his words trailing off.

Peter’s mad at himself, and a world that takes life’s precious gifts for granted.

“It’s your kids,” said Peter. “What are you working for? What are you living for? When the opportunities come for you to live and do things and you pass them up, what’s your problem? The bills are still going to be there. Everything’s going to be there — just means you bust your tail a little harder when you get back. That’s all.”

Peter has always been there for his kids. At Dukes games, at Bonita games, at Redbirds’ games. When Tim’s dream changed from playing professional baseball to flying, Peter championed this exciting  new course. He was mentally in the cockpit with Tim. “He wanted to follow the snow and make money flying,” Peter said. “There are so many opportunities in flight. He was wanting to do everything. You can fly a helicopter. You can drop water or red stuff over fires. You can drop off firefighters, you can work for an airline, you can run Fed X and UPS packages. There are people who fly around in limousines in the air.”

Peter was also with Tim when he gave his life to Christ on a ride home from church. “His relationship with Jesus wasn’t always something that stood out. Yet people close to him knew there was something different about Tim,” said Peter. “This is when he would share his faith with his friends.”

After Tim’s accident, Peter found Tim’s journal. There were only two entries. He was talking to God in both. “You are strong, I am weak,” Tim wrote in one. “Take the sheep of yours and lead me to your overflowing stream … I know that you love me, so take control of my life, grab my steering wheel and take me wherever it is you want me to go.”

Despite the bitter irony of Tim’s entry, Peter hasn’t given up on God because Tim hadn’t given up. Like the biblical Job, Peter has witnessed part of his family taken from him, but he knows the greater good Tim’s life and sacrifice symbolizes. Peter, in fact, gives testimony where he can. He passes out pamphlets about the glory of God and Jesus, leaving them with friends and customers. You’re as likely to get one of these pamphlets from Pete as you are the bill for his auto services.

“I have tried to take the whole situation and turn it into a positive,” Peter said. “I mean there have been kids who have gone into a rehab as result of what happened to Tim. They call me. One came by my house the other day and said, ‘Hey, I took myself to rehab.’ Some did it right away. For some, it’s taken a year or two. Others are still thinking about it.”

Whether astride the baseball mound, his skis, his airplane or this LA Times news stand, Tim was on top of the world and made others feel the same.

Whether astride the baseball mound, his skis, his airplane or this LA Times news stand, Tim was on top of the world and made others feel the same.

Peter knows he has to be strong for his remaining family — his wife Sandy and his children, Michael, Brian, 20, and Danielle, 18. He just took out another 20-year lease on Arrow Highway-based auto shop. “I cry a lot, but I have to move on,” Peter said. “I have to be strong because I still have a job to do.”

This past Christmas, Peter’s family gathered and placed a small Christmas tree at Tim’s grave. For Halloween, it was small pumpkins. For the 4th of July, it was tiny American flags. For Tim’s approaching birthday, Peter is given to calling it an anniversary.

“He’s never going to have a birthday again,” Peter said. “He’ll always be 23. Now we can take that day and celebrate his life and call it an anniversary.”

For that anniversary, Peter would like Tim’s friends and everyone else he touched to email their memories and remembrances to “That way, we can start putting things together to remember his life,” Peter said. “I was told if you wait too long you might begin to forget things.”

The simplest stories often register the most impact. One elderly lady emailed Peter to share how Tim helped her find her car keys. Michael, his brother, shared how facing an empty refrigerator, the two bachelor brothers settled down for a delectable dinner of powdered donuts washed down with milk.

Peter said he is still open to life’s possibilities. “I don’t create obstacles,” he said. “I have enough of my own to deal with.”

One obstacle that still needs to come down is returning to the Bonita baseball field, the site of so many memories where Tim and Michael were both all-stars. Maybe this spring will be the year. The grass will be mowed, the fence will be up, the banners will be unfurled, the loud speaker will be tuned, the chalk lines will be drawn.

Bonita baseball will be back. And Bonita’s fans will be ready to embrace one of their own.

Go to REEL Video to listen to “Over the Rainbow,” which played at Tim’s funeral. To see some video postings of Tim, please visit,

3 Responses to “In Memoriam: Will This Mark the Season’s Return of Father and Son to Bonita Baseball?”



  2. Tim is still in all of our hearts. As time goes by I expected things to get easier, but I miss him now more then ever. I’m currently deployed in Iraq and I pray to Tim before every meal and before I go to sleep. While we grew up together, Tim always looked after me. I know that he remains; still protecting me, still being the best friend that he’s always been. Pete, my dearest condolences for your families loss. Please let me know if there is anything I could do for any one of you.

    One of the reasons why I worked in Big Bear this past season is to prove that Tim didn’t die in vain; to show that it could be done responsibly. Though it was hard, I felt closer to him up there.

    May we never forget the power of Tim’s spirit. May he live on within our hearts…

  3. just saw what brian said , thank you brian also thanks robert. everyday someone tells me how TIMOTHY changed there life. a young man came in to my shop last week looking for TIMOTHY said he stop using drugs and turned his life to JESUS. only to find out TIMOTHY was not with us.he left me with a hand writen note from’s what it says. check it out, my name is TIM. and all around me is sin,mind is full of fustration, so iget on my knees and pray that i can beat satin. everyday isa challenge to me, and i know GOD can see and take care of them. with a world of corruption, i wish i could be a sacrifice to end the assamption. for whom ever reads this message, just remember to pray to GOD for what ur being tested.GOD is the way, the truth,and the light,no one gets to heaven except through HIM. so the next time you run to trouble remember to call TIM. well the young man who called on TIM just felled down and cried. praise GOD he new to call on the LORD. PETER

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