ADA, Okla. (AP) — Chris Lane loved baseball, but knew it wouldn't make him a star. Instead, the Australian youth with a quirky passion for America's pastime came to the U.S. for a college education, found a girlfriend and died while training for what was likely his final year on the diamond.
“He achieved at lot for a 22-year-old,” his father, Peter Lane, told reporters in Melbourne. “He gave up a lot to follow his dream.”
Lane hoped to work in real estate after graduating from East Central University next May but was shot in the back while jogging along a tree-lined street near his girlfriend's home in Duncan last week. Three boys — ages 15, 16 and 17 — have been charged in what prosecutors called a thrill killing.
The Redlands Community College coach who brought Lane to America remembered him Wednesday as a player with heart and passion. Matt Newgent said this wasn't necessarily enough to translate to a professional baseball career, but that Lane's talent secured him a college education.
“Chris was such a level-headed guy. He knew his limitations,” said Newgent. “He knew in his heart of hearts he wouldn't make the majors.”
Lane, who was about to become a senior, started 14 games at catcher last season and he hit .250.
Lane had been playing baseball for the Essendon Baseball Club in Australia when Newgent recruited him. A former principal at Lane's prep school in Melbourne said Thursday that Lane could have played Australian Rules football, but that he gave that up to pursue baseball — a minor sport in Australia.
“He was involved in other sports. He was a very good AFL (Australian Football League) footballer and could have gone on, I'm sure, in that area. He was a member of our athletics team, it was a champion team. He was very good that way and worked hard at his studies,” Frank FitzGerald said.
At Redlands, Lane met Sarah Harper, a collegiate golfer from Duncan. Friends expected them to marry after graduation.
“They were really a good couple and fun to be around,” Newgent said.
Harper transferred to Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond during Lane's last year at Redlands. When Lane was looking to move from the community college to a four-year college to finish his degree, he wanted to stay in Oklahoma “because Sarah was in Oklahoma,” Newgent said.
Lane and Harper had recently returned from a trip to Australia, and Lane was visiting Harper and her parents in Duncan, a south-central Oklahoma city of about 24,000. Lane was on a training run Friday when three teens chose him at random and shot him for “the fun of it,” police said.