It was a day Chris Boyle will remember for all of the wrong reasons.
It was a cold and rainy December morning, not icy but bone-chilling enough for Anderson, S.C.
The clouds hung thick and low.
It was about 10:30 when the phone rang.
The calls, questions, the details, came in quick bursts.
Did you hear about the crash? ... Were his two business partners back in town yet? ... Did his company own a plane? What kind of plane?
Soon enough, the former York Catholic star athlete was stunned by the news: His two close friends, the ones who gave him a job all those years ago, were dead.
Their small plane had crashed in bad weather on the landing approach as they returned from a business trip in Florida.
Boyle had been with AccuPad, a printing pad company, for about a dozen years at the time of the 2004 crash.
Almost immediately after getting the news, "I had to gather my thoughts and my mind" as best as possible and brief the others in the company about what happened, try to make some sense of it all.
"It was so unbelievable. ... It was pretty frightful," Boyle said. "The really bad thing was that all three people aboard (including a flight instructor) had children."
It was a watershed moment in life.
"Chris had never had anything bad happen to him," said his wife, Terri. "I had a sister who was murdered, my father died of cancer, a grandfather died of cancer. I had been through some pretty bad junk.
"So I knew how it would hit him. You go from one minute to everything so different five minutes later. But he didn't sit in a corner and, like I say, suck his thumb."
Instead, he wrote a poignant letter about how the company needed to stick together, much like a sports team.
"I had never seen that side of him," his wife said. "That was a defining moment. ... He didn't take on (the situation) as a power play or 'woe is me' or 'this is the worst thing that ever happened.' He was like, 'We've got to turn this into something.'
Eventually, Boyle and his wife purchased the business that manufactures the pads that print logos on things such as golf balls and medical syringes.
He was forever changed.
What could have prepared him for this?
Sports was certainly part of it -- the diversity of people he met, dealing with success and disappointment.
Years before at York Catholic (1980 graduate), he was nearly as valuable in football as a tight end, defensive end and punter as he was in baseball. He also was a key role player on the basketball team.
In American Legion summer baseball he played on all-star teams with future major-leaguers Sid Bream and Jamie Moyer.
During his college summers he roomed with future major-leaguers Will Clark and Terry Steinbach.
At the University of South Carolina, he played with YCIAA competitor Rob Rinehart, a Susquehannock High graduate. The two shared rides back and forth to York County -- two of the only players in Gamecocks history to hit three home runs in a game.
Boyle was a four-year starter at powerful South Carolina, holding the career RBI record for more than 20 years until it was recently broken.
But he was never drafted by a major-league team, never got a shot. Signing early with the Gamecocks out of high school may have chased scouts away then. In college, he led his team in home runs and RBIs as a junior, but slumped a bit as a senior.
Plus, he didn't have the speed scouts saw in others.
It still haunts him in a way, but also may still drive him.
"I still think about it to this day. ... I think about it all the time ," Boyle, 46, said about never getting a chance at professional baseball. "I never earned a paycheck playing it."
He left baseball behind and pushed on, though.
He became a father to his two stepsons and then to a baby boy of his own. (Thomas, 17, just accepted a soccer scholarship to play at the College of Charleston).
And he's become a business owner after the stunning loss of his two friends.
Now, "I catch myself and try not to worry and dwell on one thing, on the little things. 'Let's just go to the next day.' In the big scheme of things it doesn't matter. I'm conscious of that.
"I try not to get worked up too much and count my blessings for the next day."