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Donald John Pijanowski

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Family members are mourning Donald John Pijanowski, a lifelong sports fan who coached some of his sons in Little League and who never missed their games, died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. He was 87. Pijanowski, who was from Buffalo, New York, tested positive for the coronavirus when he went into the hospital on March 29. He died a few days later on April 1. His son said the family was not able to see their father in the last days of his life because doctors did not allow visits. Pijanowski’s son John said his father loved sports and was a huge fan of the Bills, the Yankees, and the UConn women’s basketball team. He had four sons and loved to play baseball and basketball and go bowling. “You know, growing up, I heard so many stories about him. I got to watch him sort of at the end of his playing days,” John said. “One of his friends I reached out to, he told me that there wasn't a ball or stick put in his hands that he wasn’t instantly great at.” Despite being a huge Yankees fan, John said his father was never able to attend a game until 2008, when his kids surprised him with a trip to Yankee Stadium for Father’s Day the year after their mom died. He was so happy that day,” John said in a text message following a phone interview with BuzzFeed News. “A-Rod hit a homer, Jeter got a hit and made a jump throw from deep in the hole and Mo came on in the 9th. It was glorious.” Pijanowski never missed his sons’ sports games growing up, which, John said, was amazing given how his father often had to travel for work. “When I was playing he always found a way to get a plane or drive an all-nighter to get back and make sure he never missed one game,” he said. “He coached my brothers in Little League and all that, you name it. I mean he just gravitated towards it and just loved talking about hitting or second-guessing coaches.”