Funeral held for Waynesville player hit by pitch

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | 2:06 p.m. CDT; updated 4:19 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 29, 2009

WAYNESVILLE — Dressed in team colors, more than a thousand people attended the funeral of a south-central Missouri high school baseball player who died after being hit by a wild pitch.

Teammates wearing their jerseys at Tuesday's funeral carried the casket of Patrick Clegg, the 16-year-old Waynesville athlete who died a week ago after being struck in a game in Lebanon.

The boy's father, in a statement read by a family friend, addressed the Lebanon player whose pitch hit Clegg. Mike Clegg's statement said it wasn't the pitcher's fault, and that it was time for the athletes to begin thinking about baseball again.

"I'm 100 percent certain that our son Patrick would look you in the eye and tell you, 'Play ball.'"

Flower arrangements and letters on display at the funeral, held in the high school's gym, came from the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and hockey's St. Louis Blues. T-shirts worn by many read "Patrick Clegg, No. 27."

Clegg, a junior, was batting against Lebanon on April 21 when he turned to avoid being hit by a pitch. The ball hit him just below his helmet. Clegg collapsed, and was pronounced brain dead two days later.

His family said his organs were donated to five people.

At the funeral, family friend Gene Oitker read remarks written by Patrick's father, Mike Clegg.

"I want to thank all the people who have touched our lives from that first night in the hospital and the many more it's going to take us to get over this tragedy for years to come," Oitker read from the statement.

Lebanon's players attended the visitation and the two teams joined in prayer near Clegg's casket.

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