Captain Liz Crowley of the Decatur County Sheriff's Office said Powell died Monday, October 5, 2009, at a hospital in Tallahassee, Florida. Powell was from Bainbridge, Georgia.
The Bainbridge native was a three-year letterman for the Bulldogs from 1993-95, going 19-14 with a 3.80 ERA. He ranks second in school history with 17 complete games, 352 strikeouts and five shutouts. In 1995, he led the Southeastern Conference in strikeouts (138); innings pitched (147) and was second in complete games (seven).
Powell was a second-round pick, the 41st overall selection, of the Detroit Tigers in the 1995 MLB draft and reached the majors in 1998.
Powell was 7-18 with a 5.94 ERA in 59 games for Detroit, Houston, San Francisco and Philadelphia. He last pitched in the majors with the Phillies in 2004, and spent 2005 in Triple-A for Washington.
Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. Thursday, October 8, 2009, in Bainbridge, Georgia.
Powell is survived by his wife and three children. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and former teammates.
The timing of Powell's suicide, at the end of the regular season of 162 games (despite the one tie-breaker that was played on Tuesday, October 6, 2009), does not appear to be a coincidence.
I wrote the following concerning what my study of such suicides revealed about their timing:
Baseball players were most likely to die by suicide during the off-season, if the individual was a recent player, within three years of an active involvement in the majors, or after age 65, after a "retirement" from a post-baseball career. For some former players, the end of March to the April opening days seemed to be a specific temporal black hole.
That a suicide should occur so close to the end of the regular season should not be a surprise.
Chapters on my findings regarding baseball players' suicides are to be found in Baseball and American Culture: Across the Diamond (2003) by Edward J. Rielly, in my own book The Copycat Effect (2004), and in other sources now quoting those books.
This year, 2009, is the 20th anniversary of my research and call for suicide prevention efforts among Major League Baseball players. There was a cluster of baseball suicides in 1989, which I had predicted. Donnie Moore was the individual MLB player who died of suicide receiving the most publicity, but there, sadly, were others.