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:
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.
He treated everyone the same and will be missed. I’ll leave you with Lawr’s own words:
“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.”
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
— Al Melchior (@almelchiorBB) December 19, 2018
RIP Lawr Michaels. This is such a sad morning. I first met Lawr at First Pitch Arizona, I think in 2000. I was an industry newbie and he made me feel welcome right away. I loved talking baseball with him and loved talking music with him even more. You'll be sorely missed, Lawr.
— Al Melchior (@almelchiorBB) December 19, 2018
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:
— Justin Mason (@JustinMasonFWFB) December 20, 2018
I’ve spent most of the day reading tributes to @lawrmichaels, while holding my newborn daughter. The words shared from across the nation speak to the lives that he touched and the impact he made. I know that, in the short time I knew him, he made an impact on mine…
— MrsDNice (@MrsDSalinger) December 20, 2018
Today, the fantasy community lost one of its leaders with the passing of @lawrmichaels, and I lost one of the best friends I will ever have. Lawr was a very special human being who enriched the lives of so many. My insufficient words are posted here. https://t.co/NxbbFKvQsV pic.twitter.com/i5S3IGdk38
— Brian Walton (@B_Walton) December 20, 2018
— Steve Gardner (@SteveAGardner) December 20, 2018
Some words on Lawr. https://t.co/uU0pVDzL7c
— Todd Zola (@ToddZola) December 20, 2018
— Jeff Erickson (@Jeff_Erickson) December 20, 2018
Just devastated to hear the news about my friend @lawrmichaels, who passed away today. Such a joy to be around. Did so much for fantasy sports and the people involved in it. I already miss him.
— Jeff Erickson (@Jeff_Erickson) December 19, 2018
On @lawrmichaels: I'll miss his endless positivity in the face of unspeakable hardships that inspired me to try to take life less seriously. Seeing him those 3-4 times a year used to be my regular reminder. Now I'll have to figure it out for myself. (More on Facebook.)
— Ron Shandler (@RonShandler) December 20, 2018
Very sad to hear about @lawrmichaels passing, and he no doubt was someone that was so well loved across the fantasy industry and beyond.
— The Welsh (@IsItTheWelsh) December 19, 2018
RIP Lawr Michaels. A very nice man, a guy with 1000 interests. A joie de vivre man. A perfect conversation partner. A friend. I don't know anyone like him.
— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) December 19, 2018
If you follow anyone in the fantasy industry, you have no doubt seen a lot of tributes to our freind and colleague @lawrmichaels .. my friend Joe Sheehan, not surprisingly, wrote a wonderful piece on him. I encourage you to take a few moments and read: https://t.co/fEJBxI1OQb
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) December 19, 2018
RIP, Lawr Michaels.
If you were lucky enough to meet Lawr, it didn’t take long to realize that he was one of the kindest, most genuine people around. He could talk about anything with anybody, and Lawr was great at making everybody feel welcome. I still can’t believe he’s gone.
— Derek VanRiper (@DerekVanRiper) December 19, 2018
Lawr Michaels had one of the sharpest baseball minds I’ve ever encountered but I’ll remember him most for his warmth, kindness and humanity. He was one of those rare people who made you feel welcome just by being in his presence. RIP Lawr. You will be missed.
— Mike Gianella (@MikeGianella) December 19, 2018
I am so sad to hear about the passing of my friend @lawrmichaels. Lawr did so much for the fantasy industry and was such a great person to be around. His strong sense of self, his determination, and his joy for life are an inspiration. 1/2
— Derek Carty (@DerekCarty) December 19, 2018
Rest in Peace, Lawr Michaels. So many wonderful conversations and memories and LAUGHS. The world is a better place because Lawr lived in it. I hope we meet again, brother.
— Gene McCaffrey (@wiseguygene) December 19, 2018
— Zach Steinhorn (@zachsteinhorn) December 20, 2018
I first read about @lawrmichaels in @SamWalkers great book Fantasyland. I began to follow him & the fantasy baseball family from afar. In March @ElOtroWillSmith invited me to watch @ToutWars at SI Yanks park. There was Lawr standing in front of me. What a kick it was for me. RIP.
— Jimmy Oddo (@HeyNowJO) December 19, 2018
I apologize for any I missed (and I definitely did because he was so well liked). Rest in peace, Lawr ?