ATLANTA -- There’s more to a teammate than what meets the eye.
“My family was my four other roommates in a five bedroom apartment,” John Trautwein said.
He spent 11 seasons of professional baseball and one in the big leagues.
“It was very fun,” he said. “It was just two years after the ’86 team that lost in the World Series to the Mets.
But in his darkest hour, he realized that his most special bonds were formed long before he put on a Red Sox uniform.
“Guys that I went through life with - went through life’s firsts with,” John said.
The best friends John ever had were all at the church with him at his son’s funeral. Will Trautwein had killed himself.
“I thought he had the perfect life. I thought he had everything going for him and I thought he knew it. I thought he felt it,” John said. “And I was totally wrong.”
Shortly after Will’s death, in the depths of an awful tragedy, the Trautweins began to recover. John and his wife Susie founded the Will to Live Foundation - hoping to improve kids will to live. John said the foundation has raised over $1 million. The money helps countless teens.
“The money that we’ve raised funded the implementation of the Signs of Suicide Program in every single school in Fulton County - every public school,” John said. “So, money that was raised by kids is going right back to the community to educate the teachers and the counselors and the coaches of their schools.”
It’s a labor of love for the family – love for the son they lost and for those who are struggling.
“We started this Will to Live Foundation to get to talk to each other and be there for each other and be a source of hope for each other and get them to say ‘I love you, man’ and recognize that they have life teammates in their lives,” John said.
One of Jon’s life teammates is New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
“When Will died, he was instrumental in helping me,” he said. “He even called me before the American League playoff game the night of the funeral to tell me that he loved me. It was a great example.”
The two had known each other for years.
“Joe and I were teenagers when we met,” John said. “A great example of how these bonds you form as teenagers will be there for you your whole lives.”
The Will to Live Foundation has kept Will Trautwein alive in the hearts of many. John’s book, “My Living Will,” has allowed the Trautweins’ story to spread all over.
The saying goes, time heals all wounds. But the final words of John’s book are “love heals.”
Because he says time isn’t making it any better.