ADA, Okla. — Chris Lane traveled from Australia to the United States for the love of the game — and the opportunity to secure a college degree while playing America's pastime. On the small campus of East Central University in Oklahoma, he made a home for himself in class and on the baseball field.
The 22-year-old Melbourne native, who hoped to work in real estate when he graduated next May, was fatally shot in the back last week while jogging along a tree-lined street near his girlfriend's home in Duncan. Three boys— ages 15, 16 and 17 — are charged with what prosecutors call a thrill killing, while those who knew Lane in the U.S. and Australia are trying to come to grips with the random attack.
"He achieved a lot for a 22-year-old," his father, Peter Lane, told reporters in Melbourne. "He gave up a lot to follow his dream."
A former coach who recruited Lane from Australia remembered him Wednesday as a well-rounded, charismatic guy who knew he wasn't the best baseball player in the world, but was passionate about the sport, worked hard and used his skills to pursue a college education.
"Chris was such a level-headed guy. He knew his limitations," said Matt Newgent, Lane's former coach at Redlands Community College. "He knew in his heart of hearts he wouldn't make the majors," Newgent said.
Lane started 14 games at catcher last year, and was entering his senior year. His coach, Dino Rosato, said in a statement that Lane was a joy to coach, and other teammates looked to him for advice and support. He hit .250 for the ECU Tigers last season, a figure that's OK but not a number that would attract scouts from professional clubs — but that's not what Lane was about.