Remembering Lawr Michaels

We lost a titan in the fantasy industry and a tremendous friend on Wednesday with the unfortunate and far-too-early passing of Lawr Michaels. Lawr’s been a part of the fantasy baseball industry for literally as long as I can remember. My first exposure to fantasy baseball came via Baseball Weekly (now Sports Weekly) many moons ago and they’d do yearly write ups of the LABR drafts with thoughts from each competitor, so the name “Lawr Michaels” has always been synonymous with fantasy baseball for me. I still remember first meeting him at BaseballHQ’s AFL symposium “First Pitch Arizona” about a decade ago.

Any nerves evaporated instantly as he always made anyone feel welcomed in any environment. It was his gift. You can see that in the throngs of tweets remembering him. He just cared about people and truly getting to know them. He loved talking about literally anything, though we often stuck to our two favorite topics: baseball and dogs.

I took my beagle Curtis to FPAZ back in 2013:

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"Can I go to watch baseball, too?"

A post shared by Curtis Sporer (@curtisthebeagle) on

Unsurprisingly, he was pretty popular with the attendees of the event, especially Lawr. Curtis came down with Cushing’s Disease a bit after that trip and Lawr would just send a text every once in a while checking in on Curtis and we’d trade pics of our dogs. When Curtis passed away in the summer of 2015, Lawr sent me a really nice message about dealing with the loss of pets, including a picture of his sweet pup, Jeep, to cheer me up.

Three months later when I arrived in Arizona, he greeted me with a hug and condolences. Three months later! I wouldn’t have blamed anyone for not even bringing it up, let alone making it a point to comfort me. I expressed my gratitude and shared pictures of my new dog, Charlotte. From that point on, we’d never have a discussion without him asking about her. He remembered details about people because he legitimately cared. A hippie with eclectic interests, Lawr was unapologetically himself and that was very inspiring.

A lot of people talk about being comfortable in their own skin, but he lived it. He was easy to disagree with because he was far from cookie cutter and often went against the grain, but he never made it personal when you disagreed with him, whether on something serious like politics or something more mundane like fantasy baseball player analysis. He was just a really interesting dude who was interested in making the lives of others better when he was in their presence. He will be greatly missed. –Paul Sporer

I already miss Lawr. He was one of the kindest persons I’ve ever known. It’s tough to give his personality justice. Whether it was always him drafting Khris Davis or hanging out at the fire pit at First Pitch Arizona, he truly cared for each of those around him.

Once, Lawr asked me to be on the Tout Wars Hour and told me to have a favorite album to discuss. Simply put, I’m not a huge music aficionado like Lawr. I’m more of a luddite.  I decided to go with The Wall by the bluegrass band, Luther Wright and the Wrongs. Lawr immediately showed interest while never hearing of them. He ended up writing about the encounter at Rock Remnants.

“Pick On” Pink Floyd

He treated everyone the same and will be missed. I’ll leave you with Lawr’s own words:

On Death and (Somebody Else) Dying

“Life is such a silly ephemeral thing. So difficult to understand, let alone make reasonable. And yet it is wondrous and beautiful, for though in the end it takes us from one another, certainly prior to that life gives us the gift of one another.

It certainly is a shame, however, that we have forget to embrace this gift until that appreciation is no longer corporeal.”

Jeff Zimmerman

I have been lucky enough to compete against Lawr for the past five years in AL Tout Wars. But Lawr wasn’t just an adversary to bid and play against. I also had the chance to just plain talk about life with him and listen to all the interesting stories he shared with me. I will miss those times chatting at our annual Friday night party at Foley’s and during auction day. I will never forget the constant ribbing he gave to me after I tried unsuccessfully selling high on David DeJesus several years ago. Thanks for the memories Lawr, I will truly miss one of the most interesting guys I have ever met. –Mike Podhorzer

A couple other things…I’m so glad I had the opportunity to step in for Justin a few times over the last couple of seasons to guest co-host Tout Wars Hour with him. It was some of the most fun and enjoyable time I’ve spent on air….Also, that first time I met Lawr at FPAZ, I told him I had been a political scientist. Pretty much every time I saw him after that, he would say, “you were a philosopher, right?” I always loved that, partly because it showed he remembered the first time we met, and also because being a philosopher sounded so much cooler than being a political scientist. –Al Melchior

Other excellent remembrances of our friend Lawr:

I apologize for any I missed (and I definitely did because he was so well liked). Rest in peace, Lawr ?

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Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. He is the purveyor of the SP Guide (on hiatus for '17). Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer, on Snapchat at psporer, and on Twitch at psporer24.

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alexsteersmccrum
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I got a chance to be in mock draft room with Lawr once and he said he liked my mock team name (Old Hoss Radbourn). It is still my proudest accomplishment in fantasy. Even in that ephemeral online space, he made a point to be the welcoming, interested person everyone describes. Fantasy baseball and the world itself are diminished by his loss, but much enriched because he was here.