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Draft day could be almost perfect for Durant star Danish

Published:   |   Updated: June 6, 2013 at 06:31 AM
VALRICO -

It’s a happy time. He graduated from Durant High School on Monday night. Tuesday was the school baseball banquet. Back home, Charlotte Danish has run out of room, so her only child’s trophies are wherever they fit. One of the latest, Tampa Tribune Hillsborough County male prep athlete of the year, sits on a table.

Tyler Danish, 18, has a scholarship to the University of Florida to pitch. And then there’s today. Danish and his mother, a winning and heartwarming team, will sit in the condominium off State Road 60 and wait for Tyler and his right arm to be picked in the baseball draft. He could be a millionaire.

What a perfect week. What a perfect season. Nothing says that like the number that will, in county annals, always go with Tyler Danish’s name: 0.00. That was his earned-run average in his astounding senior season — 94 innings, no earned runs, none. He was perfect. Today could be perfect. Only it won’t be.

“Nothing is, ever,” Tyler Danish said, through his tears.

He lost his dad in 2010, to cancer.

He lost him three years before that, too.

That was Dec. 7, 2007. Charlotte sat with her 13-year-old boy that day and cried while she broke the news. Her voice broke Wednesday while repeating the words …

“Dad’s going to go to prison. He got a 10-year sentence. He’s going to have to serve 81/2 years. But there’s good news: He’ll be coming home.”

He never did.

Mike and Tyler, Tyler and Mike — they were a team around the fields. Michael Danish was that dad still throwing batting practice to his boy when it was half past dark. He was a coach. All the kids knew him. “He was so much fun to play for,” said Ryan Sullivan, one of Tyler’s best friends and a Durant teammate. It was the Mike people knew.

There was that national baseball tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y. Tyler was 11, and he and his dad drove the whole way there with their team and won the thing. Tyler and his dad walked the Baseball Hall of Fame together. “It was awesome,” Tyler said. He points to the sky when he comes up big in games, for dad.

There was a knock at the front door six years ago. It was 5:30 in the morning. There were sheriff’s deputies, saying they needed to speak with Michael Danish.

Danish, a mortgage broker, was charged with multiple counts of major fraud, with victimizing more than 20 people who were looking to use home mortgages to purchase air conditioning systems. On Dec. 7, 2007, Danish pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Charlotte and Tyler, Tyler and Charlotte — alone at the house. There was embarrassment, humiliation. There was visiting day, every month or so, the long drive to the state prison in Marion County, the wait, the pat-downs, then a few hours together, good moments, before the always tearful farewell, the trip home, long silences.

And there was how to stretch Charlotte’s income from her job at the tax collector’s office, and how to get Tyler to all his games, how to do everything. Charlotte sat in her living room Wednesday and looked at her son.

“He’s the reason I get up every day,” she said. “He inspires me. It’s amazing what he’s accomplished.”

“It’s been the two of us,” Tyler said.

Christmas was rough. Any holiday, really. Tyler dreaded Father’s Day. He didn’t bring his dad up with friends. It was hardest when he hit high school … “There are all those moments you know your parents should be there,” Tyler said, wiping his tears. “It was very hard. It still is.”

“Tyler kept it all in,” Ryan Sullivan said. “To do what he’s done … it’s hard to believe.”

Tyler Danish became a budding prospect. Meanwhile, he spoke to his dad on the phone twice a week, 15 minutes. Mike Danish wrote his son letters, telling him to keep his grades up. He signed them “I LOVE YOU!!!”

It was during a visit in August 2010 that Charlotte noticed the weight her husband had lost. He didn’t feel well. She emailed her concerns to the prison, which eventually got back to her: It didn’t look good. Michael was sent to a prison medical facility near Jacksonville, where visitor access was limited.

His wife and son never saw him again. Michael Danish died in jail, aged 50, two days after Christmas 2010, in the middle of Tyler’s sophomore year at Durant. Charlotte was at work. Tyler was at a travel team tournament in Kissimmee. His mom went and told him. Tyler cried himself to sleep, then woke up and finished the tournament. He was going to keep going. They put a baseball and a picture of him in Mike’s casket.

“Sometimes good people do bad things,” Charlotte said. “I think Mike was very remorseful for what he did, and that he was away from us, and that he caused it himself.”

She looked at her son again.

“We had to get up every day, put our clothes on, go to work, go to school.”

And go pitch, to a 0.00 ERA — perfect.

“I wish he could have seen it,” Tyler said. “… I wish he could have seen me graduate.”

It’s draft day. Tyler Danish will wait on a phone call. His mom will be with him, just like always. He dreams of buying her a house. He dreams of pitching in the major leagues. And he dreams of seeing his dad again. It’s always the same, always perfect.

“He’s out there, throwing me B.P.,” Tyler said.

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