From James Jones, courtesy of Ferdi Nelissen
From Ferdi Nelissen
Extremely Sad News. Canadian great Rob Scheller has passed away. For the most part I played against Rob but was very fortunate to catch him as a teammate in 1997 at the Canadian National Championship in Victoria. As hard and heavy a drop as I have ever caught. Rob was a truly gifted pitcher who played at the highest levels in representing Canada on the National team. A class act on and off the diamond he will be greatly missed. My condolences go out to his wife Michele, his sons, entire family, friends and teammates. Cherish the WONDERFUL memories I know you all have of Rob. A great tribute to Rob below by teammate James Jones.
From James Jones:
Rest In Peace Robbie Scheller. Saskatoon and Fastpitch Softball lost an incredible talent and a truly good guy to a brain aneurysm yesterday. Robbie Scheller a six foot one, two hundred- and fifteen-pound right-handed pitcher, husband, father and brother passed away to complications from a brain aneurysm.Robbie could flat out pitch.
He could throw a drop ball harder than almost everybody in the game of Fastpitch softball and overcame complications as a young player with drugs and alcohol to rely on his faith in living with retinitis pigmentosa for most of his life.Robbie grew up in Scarborough, Ontario but was convinced to come to Saskatoon by Don Funk and he never left. He would play for the All-O-Matic’s for one year before moving to Rempel Brothers. Robbie would meet Michelle, a local waitress in Saskatoon and think up excuses to go for lunch with good friend Dave Hoffman just to talk to her. They were partners ever since and have two boys, Josh and Joel.
Robbie pitched in the World Youth Fastball Championships in Edmonton, Alberta and at 15 years of age was the MVP at the Jr. Canadians in Charlottetown, PEI. At that time Jr. Men’s was an Under 21 category.He and I were teammates with the Canadian National Men’s Fastball Team that were gold medal winners in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Pan Am Games in 1987. He played for Metro Brothers in New Zealand and connected many players like Doug Arnett and I, to teams in New Zealand taking our talents down under for a season or two.
Robbie played for many teams all over the world – the Dominican (orthodox), New Zealand, Canada and the United States. He threw for many teams like ADM Decatur Pride, Circle Tap, The Farm and many other American teams.Robbie was passionate, dedicated, and a great teammate.In 1987 we played on the Saskatoon Rempel Brothers team that brought home the Canadian Sr. A Men’s Championships gold medal, winning seven (7) straight in Calgary, Alberta at Ed Corbett Field in Renfrew Park. Jim Cowdrey, Robbie Scheller and Donnie Bates threw for our team that put it all together that year with great pitching, hitting, fielding and friendship.During one of the games a fly ball had eluded me in left field (dropped may be a better word) and when I came into the dugout at Ed Corbett Field. Robbie came down the dugout and put his arm around me and said don’t worry about it Nimmy. We got these guys.He needed someone to catch for him to loosen up, so I said sure. Not something many liked doing as his drop ball was like Gene McWillie’s, it hurt most of the time when you caught it.As he was throwing to me, a fan walked by me and said, “Nice Catch Jones!” I muttered , “Thanks A**hole,” just as a drop ball whizzed by me at 80 mph just missing the man that had made the comment. “Keep walking Loser, “he yelled, and started running towards the man that had now turned around. Robbie always ran funny as he could not see his feet, the Retinitis Pigmentosa that he was experiencing made him feel awkward and out of sort.I grabbed him and said let him go, he is right, I had blown the catch and it was Ok. He said it is not ok Jonesy, we stick together. We will see if he comes back because I won’t miss the next time. That is just the way he was.
He would throw and let out a massive grunt each time he threw. He always said it was to let out all his pent-up air and put it towards throwing the ball harder. All pitchers threw a little different. Gerald Shymko a famous curler out of Calder, Saskatchewan and a former member of the Regina Molson’s always used to slap his leg before he let the ball go, you always knew who was playing when you walked into the ballpark – Robbie was like that, his grunt on every pitch would echo though the bleachers of all the ballparks he played in.He loved it when we had only 9 players for league play at Gordie Howe Park, he loved to bat. He would go through all of our bats, flexing them, swinging them, and trying to decide which one he would use. We all joked to him that his platypus bag that held our bats was limp, pitchers usually didn’t bat. Cowdrey and Underwood were exceptions to that rule. So here was a guy that couldn’t see, other than straight ahead through a tunnel, wanting to bat and pitch from only 46 feet away. Truly Amazing.The last time that I saw Robbie was in 2015 at the Men’s World Championships. Gene McWillie pushed a wheelchair occupied by former National Umpire in Chief Ed Bitz from Saskatoon and were accompanied by Bob Van Impe, Bob Sawatzky, Robbie Scheller and I. It was a true pleasure to represent Saskatoon and Saskatchewan on the diamond with those former teammates, one more time.My sincere condolences to Michelle and the boys. I cannot imagine a day without Robbie in their life. He was always so passionate, enthusiastic, and fun. If it was lying in a hotel room watching TV in bed waiting to play a game with a huge pizza warming up on top of the TV, sitting in the airport waiting for a connection, talking about the businesses he had started up with Michelle, wondering where he might pitch the following year, or just playing with his boys, he did it all-in. in all-star fashion.He loved his family, his many teammates and even in his master’s years (+40), playing with the Sutherland Bar Masters, he would come in to pitch a couple of innings, throw heat and be the talk of the town, as he did it wearing a football helmet painted in team colors. Robbie was a beacon.
A player that still loved to play the game, had the history behind him as an MVP player, former National Team member and a fantastic family man. He had his quirks, but we all do.I used to love hearing players talk to me, not knowing I had played with and against him, tell me what it was like to bat off him. They may have lost but they remembered taking the K or touching the ball against Robbie Scheller. That to me was kind of Gene McWillie-ish. To be even said in the same breath as Gene McWillie, a former Team Mate as well, is pretty damn good.God Speed Robbie. Your faith will carry you home. Simmer will be up there catching for you now and Peter Clark will have his two strong hands on your shoulders, looking you straight in the eye and telling you everything will be all right. That’s what good teammates do. Say hi to Simmer and Spot.
I first saw Rob pitch at the 1990 ISC World Tournament in Victoria, Canada. Unfortunately, it was from the opposing dugout on opening night. My Vista Bomber team had travelled all day from California, via Seattle and the ferry over to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Because of delays on the ferries, we arrived on the field for our game against Rob and his Rempel Brother’s team at game time – literally. We hustled onto the field, and saw this big, hard-throwing right hander, buzzing warm up pitches impatiently. Bad idea – making Rob wait in the circle. He couldn’t wait to get at us. He struck out 11 that night, and we had nary a sniff for baserunners. He sent us to the loser’s bracket before we unpacked our suitcases. We naturally followed the progress of Rob and the Rempel Brothers through that tournament. If you get beat, you’d like it to be against the champion. They didn’t win it, but finished 9th in a strong field (Sea First, Penn Corp and Guanella Bros were the top 3).
Many years later — 17 to be exact, I ran into Rob again, on Man-O-War Cay, in the Bahamas, where we were hosted by Haziel McDonald and the other fastpitch residents of Man-O-War, at an exhibition tournament arranged by Haziel and Co. to show the local islanders what men’s fastpitch was all about. Rob was there with another pitcher named Rob, Rob Schweyer, along with New Zealand Black Sox captain, Rhys Casley, and Americans Doug Sleep and Barry Kahler. Rob Scheller and Mrs. Scheller made the trip, and enjoyed not only the games but the local hospitality, including conch diving and local boat trips. I got to know Rob — the person – which was a much more pleasant experience than watching his 80mph plus pitches whiz by my Vista Bomber teammates. A genuinely nice man, who will be missed.