Saturday, March 7, 2009

Michael's Memorial Service

Dear Friends: Michael’s memorial services were held on March 2, 2009 in Taipei, and included a wonderful video tribute made by his Diggers teammates. On behalf of our entire family, I want to thank each of you, his beloved friends, for your wonderful friendship to him while he was with us, and your condolences on his passing. Per Michael’s wishes, his ashes will be kept at a memorial center in the hills of suburban Taipei.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Michael S. and the Asian Stereotype

Whenever Mike went on vacation, or even the random site inspection, he was particularly aversive to carrying a camera. I was astounded at first and asked him what his issue was. He basically said he didn't want to look like all of those Asian tourists everywhere carrying a camera and snapping pictures of everything there was.

Like this guy:

Michael S. calls in sick.

Mike and I usually arrived for work around the same time every day, 8:30 or so. One day I get in and after about 15 minutes Mike wasn't in yet and it was then they I saw the light on my phone indicating a voicemail.

I call the voicemail and listen to the one message that turns out to be from Mike. It was left about an hour or so earlier and on it a gravelly voiced Mike is saying that he didn't feel well, that he thought he ate some bad chicken parm the night before and he wouldn't be in that day.

It turned out to be a big joke from that day forward and we would always refer to calling in sick as "eating chicken parm." Sometimes it was preemptive, like "I'm having chicken parm for dinner tonight so I'll see you in two days." Ultimately it was just shortened to "chicken parm" and that's all that was needed.

Erik Backer

Michael S. goes to Atlanta

Greetings everyone. For those that don't know me, I am Erik Backer. I met Mike in late 1999 at my first job out of college at Arbor. We worked there together for about a year and a half before he left to go to APF in Manhattan. A year after that, he brought me over to work in his department. Mike was my boss, my colleague and my friend.

I'm a little late to the game with the blogs but hopefully everyone out there is checking back periodically. I decided that instead of one all-encompassing post, I will break this up into pieces sharing some memories a few a time. Hopefully I can convey them in a way that everyone can understand what it was like to be there.

The first story I will share is when Mike and I went on a 2-day, 2-night business trip to Atlanta for some pointless conference (aren't they all). Tuesday we attended the first day of the conference and we struggled to stay awake. That night, as luck would have it, the Braves were playing a home game against my beloved Mets so we bought tickets and went to Turner Field. It had monsooned earlier in the day but the rain finally broke and we were gonna get this game in. Or so we thought. I found out a few days after returning that when the monsoon returned in the third inning, that game would turn out to be the first ever rainout in Turner Field history (which was only about 6 years or so at the time). So we walked out in the rain w/out an umbrella and asked where the cabs were. We were directed to a particular street but b/c the game ended earlier than anyone expected, there were no cabs. It was at this piont we were approached by a guy that looked like this:

and was wearing this:

and he says..."yo you guys need a cab?" And we were a little caught off guard and partially desperate and said "yeah" and he said "follow me, I got you a cab." Since he started walking in the same direction as the rest of the crowd exiting the stadium we figured it wouldn't hurt to at least see what this guy was offering.
This is still in the rain, mind you.
We get to an area near a newstand at an intersection and he tells us his cousin is coming, just to wait. Mike and I look at each other and, rather belatedly, conclude this guy is full of shit. There isn't a cab coming. There's a CAR coming, but it ain't no cab. And the only place it was taking us was nowhere. And since we didn't want to be a pair of New Yorkers that fell for this low-budget scam all the way down in Atlanta we decided to leave. So we looked around and there happened to be a yellow cab in the gas station across the street so we made a break for it. It turned out the cab was nearly full and from New York. But we squeezed in anyways and we left the cracked out Emitt Smith standing there waiting on the corner for his "cousin" to come pick us up.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

From Mark H, friend and Digger teammate

I'm the guy who replaced Mike as the primary pitcher on the Diggers, if "replace" is even the word.

Even on a recreational softball team, Mike stood out by belonging to his position in a way that seemed out of the ordinary. The rest of us were always misfits and moving parts; he owned the mound. It's no easy thing taking over for someone who is essential to a position, especially when you fall short in so many ways. This in part explains why we now have no fewer than three pitchers who will rotate into different games at different times.

One anecdote in particular seems to cut straight to the heart of Mike's reputation, both on our team and in our league, and I'd like to share it. The first year I pitched (the year Mike took ill) we played a game against a team very well-known to us, one we had played against in many tight games in the past. I pitched decently, just well enough to win a close game, and after the game, a player from the opposing team passed me on the field and congratulated me. He told me that when he and his teammates saw me warming up before the game, they calculated they stood a much better chance of winning because they "didn't have to face that awesome Asian guy, and will we have to face him next time?"

It's a funny thing to be told by someone you just beat that they're still more afraid of the guy who held the position before you than they are of you, but the big world of New York City softball is small like that. People remember the good guys.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

From Paul G., a Diggers Teammate

Michael was a Digger from the beginning. We both came out to the Yorkville League’s tryouts, and were put together on a team called the Replacements, which was composed of all the new people who wanted to play in the league but didn’t have a team. Our coaches’ name was Ray, and we did ok that year. At the end of the season our pitcher, Purple, asked me if I wanted to be part of a “competitive team” the next year? I said sure. She suggested we get all the best players from the Replacements, find some new folks, and form a new team. As our trusty Short Center Fielder with the reliable bat, Mike was on the list of invitees.

As that winter went by I hadn’t heard from Purple and had to decide if we were going to form this new team, and what to call it. I wanted a name that spoke to both baseball and radical politics. I thought of the Bombers, but that name was taken, and had Yankees’ connotations. Walking along McCarren Park in Williamsburg against a late February wind, I thought of the name Diggers, as a reference both to digging out a ball from the dirt, or running hard around the bases, and to the direct actionists of the 1600s who claimed the common land for the people after the English Revolution. Mike was one of the first people I called to ask if he would like to play for this new team. He said Yes, and became one of our steadiest and most reliable players.

Mike was always there in the early days of the Diggers, a pre-email, pre-cell phone era when fielding a complete team was a sometimes difficult task. Several times we’d come up short on the required number of women players needed. In those instances we’d play the other team anyways, just for fun. Purple would never stick around if the game didn’t count, but Mike always would. He just loved to play.

I was manager for the first few years of the fabled Diggers’ franchise, and towards the end of my tenure, after Purple and her awesome younger cousin had moved on from their pitching duties, Mike approached me and said he could pitch. For the first several years of playing as the Diggers, Mike was our amazing Short Center Fielder. He both embodied and defined the position. Some managers will play four outfielders across the outfield, but Mike made an excellent case for playing three across, with him roving the area behind Second Base. He was very fast, and made more shoe-string catches than I can count, always running hard and coming out of nowhere to make the out. It was truly incredible to watch.

So when Mike, our awesome Short Center Fielder, approached me wanting to pitch, I was skeptical. Being a softball manager, one hears all sorts of things, often about how great a shortstop someone really is, or how they can play Third Base, or should really be hitting Clean Up. Then, in a game situation, one finds out the harsh reality of that players’ need to stay in Right Field, or further down in the order. We were desperate for pitching, and I thought Mike was just being nice to offer. But we started to work him in for a few innings, and it became obvious that he had some ability. In time, Mike would develop into one of the greatest softball pitchers many of us have ever seen.

Those of us who had the fortune to know and play with Mike remember him as both a fierce competitor on the field, and a very gentle, caring person off the field. He always exhibited a genuine concern for his teammates well being and personal lives, while playing every game as if his life depended on it. We will miss Mike, for the rest of our lives. He was a friend and a teammate, and a Digger for life.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

From Jonathan K., a Diggers Teammate

Farewell to a Man I Admire

For the past 11 years, it has been my proud honor to serve as the lead organizer for what has become a very special group of individuals, in a place where such communities are so vitally important to our emotional and spiritual well-being. As human beings, we feel most alive when we act collectively, together in a common endeavor – especially one in which we cannot succeed without the others we must depend on, and find a common way which must always be greater than the sum of its parts.

Today I look upon my ship and I see a picture it will take me a very long time to get used to: a vessel w/ a missing man. It is my hope that my friends can find solace, however, in the knowledge that Michael was so vitally important in building the kind of strong community that allows us to feel this way about him. We grieve, but we know without ever having to say it that every step we now take together honors our departed friend. Our games, our rituals, and our traditions now take on a far more special meaning for us.

Triumphant Comeback

In the winter 2007, I received a phone call from my star lefty, who’d been in all of our thoughts and prayers, asking me very simply to “save a spot for me, Jon.” Frankly, it was sort of a momentarily uplifting feeling, but one wrought w/ a sense that my friend was being, well, a bit overly optimistic. Boy was I wrong…

That misinterpretation, I came to learn, was the result of my failure to comprehend the character of my friend as well as I thought I did (managers always think they understand their players better than they actually do). Many have written about how true heroism can be seen in our ordinary lives, by people we are privileged to know, and in ways which go unrecognized most of the time. Michael, #42, the elegant lefty from the other side of the world, was such a person.

Beginning in late April, what our merry band of ballplayers witnessed, week after week, was truly amazing. Through this experience of watching our friend play (and playing behind him, as supporting characters), we were all being given one of those extremely rare gifts in life. All of us can fully understand and feel this now, and we remember well. The circle of that experience is now complete, one and one-half years later.

In a way pitchers are sort of like orchestral conductors – it’s an extremely nuanced art -- equal parts craft and skill, all governed by a kind of poise. Our elegant lefty always had a special grace about him, when he took the ball from me before each game.

It seems to me that in those 14 games or so that Spring and Summer of 2007, Michael gave all of us a life lesson about what human beings ultimately are capable of. It was an intimate gift shared by our small community, one none of us will ever be able to forget.

There is a vast, empty space in our world right now, as we grieve the loss of our friend, and our leader. In the Diggers’ world, Michael now belongs to the ages.

Jonathan K.

Monday, February 16, 2009

From Taylor, a Diggers Teammate

Taylor, a Diggers Teammate, put together this terrific slideshow of Mike and his teammates celebrating their championship in 2003.

From Andy, a Diggers Teammate

mike s. - crazy, stingy and filthy in 2007 - one for the ages

by andy l

mike got rocked a bit in his first game back with the diggers in the spring of 2007. we were all amazed and elated that he was back in new york and attending our first spring game. the fact that he actually played and pitched was just totally nuts. we all knew he had very serious treatments going on at the time and figured he knew what he was doing and, of course, he should do whatever he wanted to do. if that meant bat 3rd and play shortstop so be it (i'm sure he would have done a fine job at that too.)

mike did get rocked a bit but, it was understandable. he hadn't pitched in almost 2 years. his stuff looked pretty decent. i was paying close attention, behind him at second base, since i was his relief pitcher. i did relieve mike in the 3rd or 4th and we lost the game. after that, i didn't relieve mike again until september. somehow, between treatments and pain and dizziness and heat and rain and mud and hospital stays and cold wind and darkness, mike pitched the full season. 2007 was an amazing performance by any standards but for mike it was really crazy!

mike usually confused hitters with his stuff. hitting against a lefty is just weird, but mike pitched form so far to the first base side of the pitching rubber that it was just uncomfortable for the hitter. as a righty hitter the ball came right at you. in other words if you didn't hit it (or duck ) it would hit you. modified slow pitch softball isn't about intimidating hitters with pitch speed. the game has a very clear and deliberate set of pitching rules enacted to encourage a 'hitters game' with lots of runs scored and plays in the filed. mike pitched within the letter of these rules but allowed no such 'hitters game', stingy!

i watched mike loop it, wing it, change it up, zip it, lob it low and high, and back spin it.... and that was just for one hitter. at second base, playing up-the-middle against right handed hitters as i do, i had an amazing view of mike's mastery. 2007 was a clinic and a performance and a show and a story and no matter how much i cheered at every opposing hitter's frustrated pop-up and 1,2,3 inning, 5 pitch inning mike responded only with a slow gait to the bench, filthy!

i wonder now whether he knew that without his shut down stuff, game after game, the 2007 diggers would likely have been experiencing a first-ever losing season. considering we were only scoring 2 or 3 runs per game, mike single-(left)handedly built a winning record. did he know what kind of year he was having? maybe in the back of his mind he knew that diggers hitters and relief pitchers being what they were that year, he had to just about pitch a complete game shutout every time out. the numbers bear this out... in this hitters-league the league era is around 8. mike's career era is a cool 5.43. in 2007 however, mike's era was 3.84, a run and a half lower than his already low career era. 2007 was one for the ages.

i don't like to pitch but i do it. i guess i'll be doing a bit more of it now. i only hope one day or one inning or one at bat, to have opposing hitters find my stuff either crazy, stingy or filthy.

here are a few more mike stats to chew on

mike's actual career pitching
starts 42
wins 33
losses 7
ties 2
wining percentage .786
earned run average 5.43 (league era 8.00ish)

mikes projected career pitching - pro rated as a 15 year mlb career
starts 630
wins 495
losses 105
earned run average 2.93 (2008 mlb average era 4.32)

mike's actual career hitting
at bats 214
hits 128
batting average .598
on-base percentage .623
walks 21
slugging percentage .827
total bases 177

mike's projected hitting - pro rated as a mlb season (550 ab)
hits 329
doubles 38
triples 13
home runs 20
runs batted in 213
walks 54
runs scored 272
total bases 455

mike's projected hitting - pro rated as a mlb season (550 ab), 15 year mlb career
hits 4935
doubles 570
triples 195
home runs 300
runs batted in 3195
walks 810
runs scored 4080
total bases 6825

Friday, February 13, 2009


Some of these are cuttings from the plant Michael had in his office. I took them before he left to go to HSBC. More stalks have grown on their own.
This is the toy car that Mike had on his desk at APF. Now I have it on the computer stand.

The two lighter green ones are the newest. They started growing a few days before Michael passed. I definitely feel like he is around all the time! Don't they look happy?!

from Jane

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More from Karl

There are a few things that really stick out when I think about Michael. Not in any particular order

Love of cars – racing autocross, bmws, “the countach”
Sports –fan and athlete
Competitive nature
Music – the 80s/ karaoke
Food – The bachelor pad refrigerator, Mcdonalds, Ollies, La Caridad

I will touch on some of these categories over the next few posts. Some will be shorter, and some longer but hopefully you all will get to know Mike the way I did.

Let’s talk sports:

Mike grew up in southern California which explains the cars and his love for all the LA based teams. One would naturally think that just meant the Lakers and the Dodgers but when Anaheim was in the World Series, Mike tried to convince me that it was okay to be a Dodger fan and an Anaheim Angel fan because that was also the home team for him. I didn’t buy it then and I still don’t but like most people in southern California, they leave in the 7th inning to beat the traffic and hop on any bandwagon that comes along.

As for the Lakers, Mike loved the championship years with Shaq and Kobe and I can’t really fault him for that. He also loved the leaner years with Eddie Jones, Ced Ceballos and Elden Campbell. Of course the man running that show was Nick Van Exel and Mike used to wear his #9 Laker jersey when we went out to the playground to shoot some hoops. I thought that Mike was pretty cool for wearing that jersey but if I remember correctly, he got it for cheap just after they traded him. Still respect him for it though. Like Van Exel, Mike liked to take it to the hole or shoot the three and not much of a mid-range shot in between. To his credit, he could do both and Mike was quick so he was pretty formidable on the court.

I remember a specific time during grad school when we played at the school gym. There were three guys already shooting around and one other guy who was just lacing up. Mike and I went up to the guy and asked him if we want to play 3 on 3 with the other guys. He agreed and plopped himself down to stretch before we got started. He asked us “don’t you guys stretch?” We both looked at him as if he were crazy and Mike said “stretch? we don’t stretch.” From then on, every time we played ball, it started with Mike saying “stretch” and me answering “we don’t stretch.”

We played a lot of basketball throughout the years and Mike certainly was a much flashier basketball player than me. He loved to shoot the three and show off his range but even more so, he loved to drive to the basket and do a behind the back layup. He would’ve dunked it if he could. Defense was often an afterthought and he was of the “a good offense is the best defense” school of thought. If you ever played basketball with Mike, one of the things he liked to do most is quote from the movie white men can’t jump. Mike’s basketball style was Wesley Snipes to my Woody Harrelson. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a great movie as Mike will tell you. When we were teammates, occasionally we would lose and Mike would say to me “but you said we wuz going to sizzler!” - watch the movie –trust me it is funny.

I digress but Mike also loved Steven Seagal movies – I think it was the fact that Mike had a strong sense of justice and fairness and he liked the way Seagal dispensed justice. We were never really ones to exchange gifts but I remember when we were working together one year, it was his birthday and I happened to be in a video store and saw some Seagal movies. I figured he would like them so I bought him – Above the Law and Out for Justice (both three word titles). I think he was pleasantly surprised that I remembered his favorite action hero. While we’re talking movies – Mike also liked Top Gun, the Waterboy, Rush Hour and There’s Something about Mary. He also is one of the only people on the planet to never watch a star wars movie. This may have changed in the past few years but he never had much interest in sci-fi.

Mike loved to play and was passionate about it so much that I was almost shocked to find out that basketball was not his true love. Playing softball was his true passion. So much so that when I told him to move back to LA so we could hang out, he told me that he couldn’t leave his beloved diggers. I think secretly he was waiting to retire from the diggers (maybe in his 50s) before heading back west. I'll let others talk more about softball.

The next post will be about Mike’s competitive nature. Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

From a College Friend

From Mariana B.

I am very sad to know that Mike has left this planet although I know he leaves behind many very nice memories for those who were lucky enough to get to know him. I met Mike at UC Berkeley in architecture school. I was part of the physics study group with him, Gladys and our friend Avivah.

On the surface, Mike seemed like a shy quiet guy. Once you got to know him and he felt comfortable he would make you laugh so hard you would cry. I remember having many giggle fits with him while staying up all night working in architecture studio and even at our physics study groups which made physics more palatable. I remember how easily he drew designs he invented for cars. He would doodle them in his sketchbook while listening to a lecture (nice how you could buy the notes all typed up at Berkeley for some classes). The sketches he drew came so easily to him and I know this was one of his strongest passions. If there is such a thing as re-incarnation, I have a feeling he is coming back as an award winning car designer.

I always wanted to move to New York and was so happy for Mike when he got into Columbia. I came and visited him once and he was nice enough to put me up on his futon in his tiny apartment and take me site seeing when he got off from work. He was so happy to be living in New York and I could tell he was in his element.

I just moved to New York this past October from Los Angeles and I was planning to look up Mike so we could reconnect. Unfortunately, I came too late and we had lost touch. I have lost touch with so many other friends so this has made me realize how precious this life is and how important it is to stay in touch with everyone somehow. I am glad I was friends with Mike and was able to share some of the happiness of his short life. I will miss him and he will always be in my thoughts.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

From a Diggers Teammate

From Diggers Teammate Bill M.

I feel honored to have known Mike, and call him a friend. I will miss him. I looked forward to knowing Mike a long time. It¹s difficult to realize he won't be around anymore. Our initial bond was as softball teammates that soon became a friendship. Besides playing on a couple of teams together, we took a few road trips, and played golf occasionally. I found it easy to continue my friendship with Mike no matter where we left off. I always felt at ease with Mike. He was passionate in his interests, and liked to introduce others to them. Mike was a fighter. His intensity and spirit were evident on the softball diamond, and in his fight for life. One year after his transplant he came back to New York, and played a full softball season; that was truly amazing. I found Mike to have a strong sense of who he was. He was open and honest with everyone. So long Mike, you¹ll be missed.

Also, a few memories...

Myrtle Beach Golf Trip, Nov. 2003
Mike booked the rent-a-car. He rented a bright, canary yellow, Mustang convertible. That¹s when I discovered his passion for cars. One night we went to a local bar/restaurant for dinner. Soon after dinner, karaoke started. I thought that would be our signal to leave, but Mike, as I would find out, loved to sing karaoke. I was floored to hear Mike sing (especially Mandy, and I Write the Songs that Make the Young Girls Cry). He was a big hit with the locals at the bar.

Playing golf one July 4th at Dyker Beach
We had the course to ourselves. On one green the hole was at the bottom of a slope that made it nearly impossible to get the ball in the hole. We spent about a half hour trying to hit putts into the hole, missing each time, but we were both determined.

Trip to Little League World Series, August 2004
We went to see the Taiwanese little league team in the Little League World Series, out in western PA. That was a great trip.

From a Diggers Teammate

When I think about Mike, three seemingly contradictory images come to mind. I think about how he would always ask me for news about my brother, Paul, who had moved away to Portland. His face would light up with that big, warm smile of his. The other image that comes to mind is him rubbing dirt into his hands and violently throwing it down to the ground to psych himself up before a big pitch. He had this ferocious intensity while on the mound that was rather frightening. The third image is the sweet and earnest look on his face when he sang, “Mandy.”

When I first met Mike, I thought he was a private man. He didn’t talk much about himself. But over time, I slowly came to realize that, although he was quiet, at every moment, Mike was fully engaged. He always gave of himself completely. It didn’t matter if he was asking about an old friend, pitching with the game on the line, or singing his heart out; Mike was going to show who he was with all his warmth, intensity, and passion. I have always respected and admired him for that; now I will deeply miss him because of it.


"Big Delicious"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Dear Friend

Our last encounter in DC, October, 2007

I have known my dear friend Mike for 20 years.  I struggle knowing what to write as nothing I put down in words can do justice to the beautiful person that was and always will be Mike Su.  

Mike and I met at UC Berkeley where we lived in Wurster Hall, "The House of All Nighter" as it was known on campus, trying hard to create the perfect design.  We worked hard but never forgot to have fun too.  I recall one incident that portrays the prankster side of Mike very well.  We were in a physics study group together, trying hard to pass a class we knew very little about...the blind leading the blind as they say.  I recall endless hours talking about cars, who brought what to snack on, who was dating whom, baseball, our next road trip to LA and so on and so on.  Why we called it a physics study group I do not know.  It was final exam time and needles to say, we were all scared and worried about passing the class.  So, instead of getting all worked up, we decided to have some fun with it.  We all walked into the gymnasium filled with hundreds of tense students and sat down ready to take our punishment.  However, we all had one of those little cans that mooed like a cow when you turned it upside down.  We sat in different places in the gymnasium so as not to get caught.  In the middle of the exam it mooing cow at one end of the gymnasium followed by another mooing cow at the opposite end.  You could imagine the Professor's dismay when the whole gymnasium erupted into laughter, immediately breaking the tension in the room!  I can't recall how we fared in the exam, or much about physics for that matter, but I will always remember Michael and his mooing cows! 

As I reflect back on Mike, I am reminded of all the things he loved.  On the top of the list is his love for cars.  Mike would spend endless hours sketching cars, reading about cars, talking about cars and of course driving his precious BMW.  He even convinced me to buy his white Toyota once he was ready to give it up.  It was a very good reliable car, just as Mike had promised.  Mike loved cars so much that he even decided to take an independent studio one semester to design his own car.  I recall how much he enjoyed his studio...I know that must have been his favorite semester at Cal. 

Mike, our friend and classmate Mae and I decided to spend new year's eve in NY's Time Square.  We were all so excited to travel to the East Coast and finally spend a real "white Christmas".  Mike was especially excited to visit David Letterman's Studio.  He was such a huge fan, always making sure he was home in time to watch David Letterman's Top 10 list. During our visit to NY, we roller skated in Rockefeller Center, visited Central Park, visited the Seinfeld Diner (yes, Mike was a huge Seinfeld fan!) and ate NY style hot dogs.  On new year's eve, we made our way to Time's Square and watched with frozen faces and hands as the ball and the new year fell upon us.  What an amazing time we had.  The funniest part of the whole trip, however, was Mike's
 whining.  Yep, for some reason, he decided to walk a few steps behind Mae and I mumbling "I'm cold....I'm hungry....My feet hurt...the subways are dirty".  We teased him all day long and I still laughed at him years later.  I never would have guessed in a million years that he would end up going back to NY and making it his home away from home! :)  Needless to say, that will be a trip and a New Years that I will never forget.

        Mike and his Letterman Sweatshirt...he was so excited!

          New York Tourist :)

Mike always found his way to a Micky D's.

Mike in a Subway (this must have been one of those whining moments) :)

Mike was always encouraging me to go online to find dates and I was always hesitant for the usual fears that people have about going online.  I was going to visit Mike in NY one year and he decided it would be a good idea to place an add on Craigslist for me...without me knowing!  My plans changed and I wasn't able to make it to NY so he fessed up and told me all about the add.  I have no idea what the add said but apparently I was getting some hits and Mike was busy screening them for me.    I couldn't believe it, he was always playing matchmaker, ever since college days.  Some years later, Mike's persistence payed off and I signed up on  I remember Mike guiding me through the process telling me what to say and not say and within a month of signing up, I found my future husband!  Here is a picture of my husband, Carlton, and I during our very last visit with Mike in DC.  

I feel very blessed to have known Mike for so many years.  I will never forget his kindness, sense of humor, passion for life and his everlasting friendship.  Mike was like no other...I miss you Mike and I will hold you in my thoughts and in my heart forever.  Your Friend,  Gladys  

From another Diggers Teammate

I loved how he ran like a gazelle.

I marveled at his ability to pitch a softball half way up the backstop and then come back and fire a strike. The other team usually did not like this so much.

I enjoyed it how he would walk off the mound before the 3rd strike was called.

We rarely spoke about work. In fact, I never really understand what he did. So we kept it to baseball. Or girls.

I enjoyed our post-game discussions about the Dodgers over a beer.

I really enjoyed making fun of the Dodgers and getting him all riled up ("Eric Gagne is fat" usually worked best.)

I giggled to myself when Mike would storm around the mound muttering to himself. He just needed to work it out. Usually he did.

I admired him for his guts. Especially when he came back and played with the Diggers despite being in the middle of chemotherapy. He was weak, but all he wanted to do was play ball with his extended family. I was injured that season, so we sat on the bench and talked. And cheered. And watched our game unfold...I'll always consider Mike a part of my extended family and I miss him a lot.


From a Diggers Teammate

I've never much prescribed to the idiom "still waters run deep", but it genuinely seems written for our good friend, Mike.

He was quiet and reserved, until he felt a situation merited action. In hindsight, I don't think I ever saw him throw away a single word. But those of us who knew him well were lucky enough to see that he was full of surprises.

The flashes of grit on the mound (who knew he could get so worked up? he turned pacing into an art form), the time he belted out a perfect rendition of Barry Manilow's Mandy at karaoke (every single note was perfect – we all talked about that night over and over), or the time he offered to help my husband find a job (he was so gifted at his work, and so humble).

Looking at these childhood pictures of Mike, I already miss my friend dearly. And when spring comes to the city this year – when the gloves come out and the cleats get clapped together – it will be missing one of its most beautiful children.

- Cindy, #31

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Amazing Save

When I was an active member of Diggers, Mike and I were both pitchers. Often, he played outfield until my pitching crapped out and he would clean up my mess. I will never forget the game at Central Park one Fall (I think it might have been 1999 or 2000).

We played every game with all our heart, but I think this was the season that we were close to finally making it into the post-season playoffs and we were hungry for the win. Unfortunately, the pressure was getting to me and I managed to pitch myself into a deep hole. I think it was the stuff of after-school specials; the bases loaded, maybe 1 out at best, and the pitch count was 3-0. Michael Glavin was helping Jon Keller coach at the time and he could see the dread on my face. One more bad pitch and we would lose the game. He slowly walked to the mound, didn't say a thing, just took the ball and called to the outfield, "Su!"

Like a professional reliever coming in from the bull pen, Mike confidently ran up to the mound and gave me a nod that said, "I got this." I was feeling both relief and guilt. I was off the hook for the next pitch, but I left him with what I thought was certain disaster. Under normal conditions Mike would take a batter or two to settle into his pitching rhythm. By that time, the game would be lost.

Maybe it was the added pressure that called out Mike's best skills, maybe it was Mike's supreme confidence that intimidated the batter, or maybe it was the illusion of professionalism that was always the hallmark of the Digger operation. I don't know, but I do know that Mike pitched 3 strikes in a row right out of the box. He struck out the batter, changed the tenor of the game, got us out of that terrible inning and secured his place forever in my heart as my hero. I'm not usually one to look to a man to save me, but I have to admit, Mike's gallantry made it feel real good in that instant.

Steph, #55

A Friend Visits

Michael's softball teammate Jonathan K. visited him in Taiwan in December 2007, and he sent along these pictures.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A few photos from our wedding on Sep. 8, 2001

I first met Michael in the fall of 1997 at Columbia University’s Master’s in Real Estate Development Program “the program”. Pretty much all of the classes were required and thus Mike and I ended up going from class to class and hanging out in between. I remember Mike and I going to lunch on one of the first days of class and we went to Ollie’s, which was right across from the school on Broadway and 116th (the first of many lunches together). We talked for a while because I was considering applying to the architecture school and Mike had already received his masters. He told me it was extremely theoretical and left many of his buddies unprepared for the real world of practicing architecture. He also told me that many of his friends ended up taking jobs at big name architecture firms in NY with the healthy salary of zero. Mike was fortunate to graduate from architecture school and get a job that actually paid some money but I’m fairly certain that it was below what most school teachers make in NYC. Needless to say, I haven’t thought much about attending Columbia’s architecture program since.

Despite all this, Mike was passionate about architecture and even several years after establishing himself as a lender, he still toyed with the idea of taking the architecture license exam.

As we went through the Real Estate program together, Mike and I ended up working on several group projects together. Somehow we had a project on a hotel in Northern Virginia. Mike always loved a road trip so instead of writing about a piece of real estate that we never had seen before, Mike and I drove down took some pictures and made our presentation that much more effective. He never could back away from a chance to get in the car and was first and foremost an all or nothing kinda guy.

After classes were over in the summer of 1998, I went to work for Nomura and Mike went to work for Lehman in their respective commercial real estate finance departments. I believe Mike got the intro through his friend James. Shortly after in the fall of 1998, the bond markets blew up when Russia devalued its currency. This caused major disruption for our respective companies and we were both laid off. This was definitely a rough introduction to the world of commercial real estate.

Instead of crying about it, Mike and I decided to go play golf. We had been playing at some of the public courses in Westchester and while we were not very good at the game, we weren’t terrible and were both scoring in the 105 –115 range. I have been told that if you can break 100 you are in the top 20% of players so we thought we were doing okay. Since we were both roughly at the same level, we tended to compete a lot and play for a little bit of money – not a lot ($1 per hole) and then we would usually grab a bite to eat afterwards before heading back to the city.

Since we had both lost our jobs and there weren’t many other jobs available at the time, we decided to take a golf trip to Myrtle Beach. The drive was about 10-12 hours and we made pretty good time in Mike’s white 1989 bmw convertible (the ultimate tanning machine). We got a good deal with the hotel, which included the golf since it was late Feb. The weather was pretty cold at night but warm enough during the day. We mistakenly upgraded one of the courses and it was ridiculously hard. I think I shot a 130 and probably hadn’t done that since I was a kid. Mike didn’t do much better but he never told me his score.

The trip was a lot of fun except for two incidents. The first was when we were in a restaurant having dinner and some yokel mockingly said some “chinese words” at us. Hard to believe that there were still people like that but this was over 10 years ago and before the age of Obama. Mike was really pissed because we were having a good time and hearing this ignorant person just soured much of the trip for him.

The other incident Mike very much blamed me. I was always making fun of Mike for being so attached to a car built in the 80’s when there were so many great cars being built in the 1990’s. Just before heading back to New York, I made a comment about how the car was holding up nicely. Right away he said with an exasperated look on his face “that’s it, now you’ve done it.” An hour later, the car stalled and we were at a repair shop wondering how we were going to get back to NY.

A few words for the readers

I would like to start by simply saying that I miss my friend Mike.  We spent a lot of time together between grad school, losing our jobs in 1999 and then working together again years later.  All throughout we were always close and it makes me sad that he is not around to make me laugh the way he did for so many years.  Having said that, I was fortunate enough to know him as long as I did and I am happy to share some of my memories of him.  There will be several posts by me and I encourage everyone to write a little something, even if it is just a few words by Michael.  One of his favorite sayings was "I am all about class."-  so keep it clean. (smile).


Michael and Yugos

There's another story about Michael and I growing up that I think would bring a smile to his face. For reasons passing understanding, there were a few months in his high school years when he and his friends were fascinated with the Yugo, a car that was pretty much a lawsuit waiting to happen.

As luck would have it, there was a Yugo dealership about two miles from our house. One afternoon, when I was in fourth grade, I came to our front door to find a post-it note that said "Go to the Yugo dealership." So I turned around and trekked the two miles to the Yugo dealership. I walked in and provided various bewildered salespeople a description of Michael, but no one knew what I was talking about. I walked the two miles back home and through the front door to find a petrified Michael. He'd been crying, worried about where his missing 9 year old brother was. It was the first time I'd seen him cry. I suppose while I was missing he thought I had been the victim of foul play, but worry turned to anger as he apparently thought I had gone off on a Ferris Bueller's Day Off type adventure. He angrily demanded to know where I'd been. I showed him the note on the door, which it turns out he'd meant for his friends, and not me. Needless to say I was immune from prosecution for this series of unanticipated events, and thanks to the unspoken pact between us brothers, our parents were never the wiser.

Hi All,

I have a number of fun and fond memories of Michael. What I remember most about Michael was his very quick and dry sense of humor. We laughed a lot. We became friends the last 6 months or so of his working at APF. He moved his office to the production side of the office and that’s when we started to become friends. We discovered each other. I had been at APF 3 yrs already! One day we started to talk about cars. I had gone to Lime Rock, CT to an intro race car driving thing at Skip Barber and I think that’s what started us talking to each other.

We talked about a lot of things - about life, dating, politics, the US, Taiwan, architecture, cars (of course). Sometimes we talked for hours.

We also talked about his wanting to write a book about his life....what the chapters would be, what he would write in the acknowledgements, I would help proof read it....we had fun talking about it. Every time something happened, we’d say that would be another chapter. I really thought it would come to fruition and be a big success.

A fun thing we used to do (and I know he did this with other friends as well), was recite whole episodes of Seinfeld. It got to the point where I would email him a sentence, and he would email back the next sentence or even the next word. So, when Michael was in Taiwan and was still emailing, I randomly emailed him a line or phrase, and he would email back the next phrase. It was very amusing.

I miss him very much and glad that he is in a better place. Now I can talk to him whenever I want. I also inherited a little toy car that he had on his desk at APF as well as cuttings from a plant in his office. The cuttings must be very happy because they are growing like crazy. Two new stalks came up in the last two weeks.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Dear Friends of Michael: On January 22, 2009, Michael passed away in Taipei, Taiwan after a long bout with cancer. I know that all he wished for was the chance to play softball with his beloved Diggers, drive his cars, and enjoy life with you, his wonderful friends. Thank you for all of the thoughtful expressions that you've shared with our family. I post this note to Michael as an expression of love for my elder brother, and also in the hopes that you might get to know some of his stories as well as share some stories of your own. Thank you for being wonderful friends to him.

Dear Michael: In the days since your passing, countless memories of us growing up have passed through my mind. Many of your friends have reached out to me to tell me what a great friend you were, how funny you were, and how you loved your softball and your cars. You touched many people's lives and you are missed. I miss you very much.

Your good friend Karl set up this blog for you, and I thought it was a great idea. I bet you never thought that your friends would be seeing these pictures of you and hearing these stories about you. But I hope that you enjoy this short trip down memory lane, and know that it is written out of love and reverence for you, big brother.

The Wonder Years

Of course, you were born in Taiwan just a bit over 39 years ago. I bet you didn't know that I had all of these baby pictures of you. You were our parents' beloved first born, and they have many wonderful stories of you teaching them how to be parents. As I look into my son's eyes today, I realize how much they loved you and the hopes and dreams that they had for you. You fulfilled many of those hopes and dreams because you were a good son.

Your friends would get a kick out of knowing that, even as a kid, you loved the Coca Cola.

Los Angeles

In the early 1980s our parents made the brave decision to send us to the United States to study, and we settled in Southern California. They made the even braver decision to let us grow up mostly on our own. Sometimes I wonder how we didn't end up as juvenile delinquents! You didn't always have an easy time because you were just becoming a teenager when we moved. Some of your new classmates picked on you because you had an accent and brought a different-looking lunchbox to school. But you persevered and made lots of good friends. Here's a picture of us goofing around in our backyard.

Here's a picture of you on your mountain bike when we were growing up. You know how you remember certain things about your childhood? I remember once asking you whether my bike was better than yours. You said that yours was better. I then asked mom, who said that my bike was better. Upon hearing that, you said, "mom's just telling you that to make you feel better." Of course, years later I realized that you were exactly right. Even as kids, you never sugarcoated anything. You "kept it real," as the kids say these days.

Your love of baseball and softball began when you were just a teenager. Here is a picture of you aspiring to be a major league catcher. The other picture is a picture that you made me pose for, pretending to catch a fly ball in the bottom of the 9th inning in Game 7 of the World Series. We forgot the ball though!

Of course we did all of the things that L.A. kids do when they grow up, including going to Disneyland.

You took good care of me when you were in high school. It was fun having an older brother who was hip and cool. You took me to my first action movie ("Top Gun"). We were regulars at McDonalds. We always ordered three large fries. One time, you thought that given that we always fought for the last french fry, we should order four large fries. At the end of that debacle we vowed never to do that again.


You went on to Berkeley after finishing high school. I know that you were intimidated at first because you told mom and dad that you felt like a small fish in a big pond. But you made lifelong friends in your architecture program and your fraternity house.

Because of our family circumstances you had to rent an apartment in Berkeley during your freshman year and have your pesky little brother with you! That was no way to start off a college career. Yet you did it anyway because we were family. The first time you were going to a fraternity formal you asked me what the right way was to dance. You asked me this question when I was in seventh grade and sadly, I gave you terrible advice.

There was the one time that I got a really, really bad cold. You gave me Tylenol, NyQuil, and Chloroseptic at the same time. That was pretty neat, because then I had my first hangover the next day. Ha!

You were so happy to graduate from college. It was on to a new life in Southern California! That is, until New York called . . . .

Your Cars

Anyone who knew you will know that you loved your cars. And you cycled through them like most people cycle through clothes.

Below is a picture of your very own first car, a 1986 Toyota Corolla SR5. It barely had more horsepower than our lawn mower, but it was all yours. You washed and washed that car like there was no tomorrow. And even though it produced less horsepower than your average Budweiser Clydesdale, you were not afraid to get involved in a "demonstration of speed" with your fellow motorists. One time, you came back home and hurriedly parked the Corolla in the garage. You then came to me and said "I don't want you to drive the Corolla for a few days, because I just got into it with a few mean looking dudes and they were kind of chasing me." That was pretty funny.

Here are pictures of you with your cherished BMW 325is. I promise to always keep it in our family.

I must confess that I had some pangs of concern when you first told me that you had gotten a fire-engine red Honda S2000. At first you adored the car, driving it every chance you had. But after a few months, even you came to admit that the car was a bit too nutty. But you loved it anyway.

I hadn't expected you to say anything at our wedding, but you gave a very touching speech about our childhood together and how we survived being on our own. I haven't forgotten that speech since.

I'll miss you big brother. What I regret most is that your nephew won't have the chance to hear all of your stories and take rides with you in your cars. But he'll have these pictures and plenty of stories about you from me. I know that you're smiling down on us and you're probably wondering what all the fuss is about, but that's because we love you. Until we meet again.

With love,