Former Grayson County High School athlete Brock Funk, whose exploits on the baseball diamond seemed larger than life, died Friday in a Bristol hospital after contracting bacterial meningitis.
Funk, a 2004 Grayson County graduate, was employed as a teacher at Castlewood Elementary School in Russell County.
Grayson County baseball coach Mike Worrell said he received several texts late Thursday night from friends who were with Funk’s family members indicating that Funk had become ill and was taken to Bristol Regional Medical Center.
Worrell said the texts indicated Funk had contracted bacterial meningitis.
“I understand he had flulike symptoms during the week,” Worrell said Friday. “They found him passed out on his basement floor and took him to the hospital. He never did respond.”
Russell County Public Schools officials notified parents earlier Friday in a letter that three county schools would be closed because “an employee at Castlewood Elementary School has been diagnosed with a possible communicable disease.”
Funk was the head baseball coach at Castlewood High in 2014, but he resigned from those duties after just one season, Worrell said.
Funk’s father, Fred “Tiny” Funk, is the head coach of Grayson County’s girls basketball team. Grayson County’s boys and girls basketball doubleheader scheduled Friday night at Graham High School in Bluefield was postponed, according to Grayson County athletic director Chad Wright.
“This is a big loss for the Grayson community,” Wright said .
Funk was the 2004 Timesland baseball player of the year.
As a senior that year, he batted .500 with eight home runs. He was 11-1 as a pitcher with a 1.50 earned run average and 116 strikeouts in 76 innings.
Funk finished his high school career with 381 strikeouts and a 34-9 pitching record, 23 home runs and 117 RBIs.
At UVa-Wise, Funk set school career records for games started as a pitcher (29) and innings pitched (219 1/3).
“He was an incredible baseball player,” Worrell said.
Worrell said he last spoke with his former player last spring.
“He was helping me out at playoff time with some scouting on some of the teams from down in that area,” Worrell said.
Funk was highlighted in a 2004 Roanoke Times story after his young cousin, Chris Coleman, died during the week of Grayson County’s Region C semifinal baseball game against John Battle.
During the funeral visitation, Funk approached the youngster’s parents and promised them something special in the upcoming game.
He pitched a no-hitter and slammed a two-run home run that hit the American flag flying on a pole beyond the center field fence.
“The thing people forget about that game is that he was perfect through eight and a third innings,” Worrell said. “He struck out a kid on a curveball in the dirt. Our catcher picked it up and threw to first and hit the kid in the back.
“I think we ended the game on a double play. He still got a no-hitter and faced the minimum.”
Funk is survived by a wife and two children, Wright said.
Funk’s sister, Megan, is a former Grayson County athlete who teaches at Independence High School.
His parents were en route home from Bristol late Friday afternoon.
“I haven’t talked with them,” Worrell said. “I’m sure they’re devastated.
“Brock comes from a large family. He was the oldest of all the grandchildren. There are a lot of cousins and other people in Grayson County who are really hurting today.”