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The end of the applause for slain former major leaguer from Lancaster

At the end Saturday, there were no more thunderous cheers for former major league baseball player Danny Clyburn, Jr. No more home run trots, or tipping a cap to adoring fans. No more "big stage."

Just tears, caused by one thing: Bullets.

Clyburn, 37, who played parts of three seasons in the majors in the 1990s, widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best ballplayer to ever come out of Lancaster, died Tuesday after an argument on the same street he grew up on.

Clyburn, who lived in California, had only been home a few days for a visit when he was shot. It remains unclear why Clyburn was shot around 2 a.m. in front of a clubhouse where people gather.

A lifelong friend, whom Clyburn had watched the Super Bowl with, is in jail, charged with murder.

But it was clear Saturday that Clyburn was loved and respected by his community that had cheered for him as he played baseball. Teammates from Lancaster High School's 1992 graduating class carried the casket into, and out of, Mount Zion AME Zion Church just two blocks from where Clyburn died. Every one of those players dreamed of the majors: Only Clyburn made it.

The Rev. Lonnie Patterson told the people to remember that Clyburn had reached the top of the baseball world and played at a level that very few attain but millions aspire to.

"This was a man who lived his dream, and that dream was the major leagues," Patterson said. "He played on the big stage. Many young boys, uncountable, practice so that they might do what Danny did and get there."

The words were said right across the street from the elementary school where Danny Clyburn played his earliest baseball and little kids play ball to this day, dreaming of the big leagues.

So many people, at least 300, packed into the church that later arrivals had to sit in the basement and watch on video. The people sat in silence, in grief, because Clyburn had been what all wanted - the best at what he did. These people who work in factories, warehouses, production lines, offices, carried a profound sadness for this one of their own whose man's work was always a boy's game: baseball.

That attainment, albeit brief, separates Clyburn from so many others. He had some personal and legal troubles in a bout with drugs and alcohol that ended up in the courts after leaving baseball a few years ago, certainly. Yet he was a dedicated father of two children.

Although Clyburn had played pro ball as far away as Hawaii - he was so loved in Maui that he was made an honorary native - his roots were small-town Lancaster.

No players or coaches or officials from those three-year stretches with the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Devil Rays were there Saturday. Clyburn's glory days were behind him and those big league teams forgot him.

Those who loved Clyburn and had small successes in their own hearts when Clyburn swung a major-league bat and hit a major-league home run did not forget him, though. A relative, Charles Brace, walked up to the church with these words: "We all crossed home plate when Danny succeeded."

Major league baseball players, in those games in front of tens of thousands, are deafened by cheers.

But if the glory is fleeting, as was Clyburn's in the majors, and you are a country fella at heart and speak like a country fella, and never are comfortable with big-city life, even when your wallet is full, there are no television cameras at the funeral. No ESPN special.

In the church there were no jerseys, or ball-playing shoes called spikes, or caps and baseballs.

Just a funeral way too early in life, caused by a gun toted by a friend, police say, and nothing else.

A last run around the bases among family and friends and former local teammates and those who had shared joy of success when it rose to greatness from this small city.

Then a ride a few miles out in the country to Sand Hill Missionary Baptist Church, nowhere near any stadium or streetlights.

Just burial of a former major leaguer, with no bright lights, on a cold winter day under hard red clay, just off from a grove of tall and skinny pine trees.

The wind whistled through the trees, but it did not sound like the cheer from a crowd at a big league stadium. It just sounded like an empty promise.