Craig L. Golden, 43: Waffle House exec; youth sports coach

Craig Golden knew baseball inside out.

He knew the entire body had to be in sync to throw an accurate pitch.  And he knew that, among other things, proper stance, swing and eye level were vital to hitters.

For years, Golden shared what he knew with youth. He coached Little League baseball at George Pierce Park in Suwanee. And he was  a coach for the Greater Gwinnett Baseball League when his sons, Ben and Austin, played.

Ben, a left-hander, played outfield. Austin was a catcher. Their dad taught them, and other youngsters, the mechanics of the game, the proper way.

"He was very knowledgeable about the mechanics of hitting and pitching," said Elena Golden, his wife of 20 years. "He was intense, but that was just his personality."

Mr. Golden also coached in the North Gwinnett Football Association, part of the  Gwinnett Football League.

Rick Clements of Suwanee remembered Mr. Golden's days as an assistant football and baseball coach. Their sons were the same age.

"When we were coaching 12-year-olds," Mr. Clements said, "We took our team to Cooperstown and had a wonderful time. "He kept the books for all of us in the baseball league. A lot of dads get into coaching to win championships and get to the next level. He knew the game and really seemed to enjoy the moment and the kids."

Craig L. Golden, 43, of  Suwanee died Monday at Gold's Gym from a heart attack. The funeral will be 1 p.m. today at Shadowbrook Baptist Church in Suwanee. Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory of Buford is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Golden grew up playing baseball in the Mountain Park Athletic Association. For three years he played baseball at Brookwood High, where he graduated in 1984 with honors.  Mr. Golden had a .445 batting average at one point during the 1985 high school state title playoffs.

In college, the catcher and third-baseman played four years at Mercer University in Macon. There, he graduated with honors in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in business and finance.

A year after college, Mr. Golden joined Norcross-based Waffle House. He was an executive vice president.

Craig and Elena Golden had known each other since middle school. They started dating when both were Brookwood seniors.  Although Mr. Golden loved baseball, his wife said he never talked about pursuing it as a profession.

"He never conveyed to me any aspirations to play beyond college," she said. "He loved the game, and played it in high school and all four years at Mercer. But he was very intelligent, smart person, too."

Additional survivors include his parents, John and Gail Golden of Castle Rock, Col.; and a brother, Cory Golden of Holly Springs, N.C.