Donald “Sauce” Cain, Ultimate Frisbee pioneer and world record holder, dies at 62

Haddonfield resident was known for his disc skills, positive personality

Kain-Murphy Funeral Services / Special to The Sun: Donald Cain

Donald “Sauce” Cain, 62, of Haddonfield, a prominent Ultimate Frisbee player and world record holder, died suddenly Sunday, July 22, after suffering a stroke.

Cain started playing Ultimate Frisbee, a non-contact team sport similar to football but with flying discs, not long after the pastime was founded at a North Jersey high school in 1968.

“I originally threw on suburban streets,” Cain said in a recorded interview from 2016. “I realized that I could throw it kind of far.”

He began competing in Ultimate Frisbee at East Brunswick High School and continued playing at Rutgers University, which was an early powerhouse in the sport. Cain helped the Scarlet Knights win three national championships between 1974 and 1976.

Cain’s prowess in throwing discs led to a partnership with Pepsi. He was featured in a pair of commercials for the soda company, including one filmed at Fordham University in 1978 that showed him performing a number of impressive throws and tricks.

However, Cain is perhaps best known in the Frisbee community for holding the world record for maximum time aloft.

In 1984, during a tournament held in Philadelphia, Cain threw a Frisbee that remained in the air for 16.72 seconds before he caught it. The record has not been broken.

“I threw this thing, and it went straight up, sat on that shelf and started to slowly carve across the sky,” Cain said in the 2016 interview, remembering the famous throw.

Valerie Cain / Special to The Sun: Donald “Sauce” Cain during his heyday as an Ultimate Frisbee player.

Cain’s well-known nickname, “Sauce,” also came from his participation in Ultimate Frisbee. A teammate at Rutgers told him to put a little more “sauce” on his throws.

“Sauce” was perhaps known just as much for his Frisbee abilities as for his fun-loving personality, friends and family told The Haddonfield Sun.

Marc Davies, who knew Cain for about 20 years, said he was always positive and upbeat and moved through different situations in life with a special grace.

“He always wanted to show people how to make a throw or do something,” said Davies, a former board president for the Philadelphia Area Disc Alliance. “It was like a relentless sharing of positive things.”

“He was just known to more people in a better light than any person we’ve ever had,” Davies added.

Valerie Cain, Donald’s wife of 24 years, said her husband seemed to know everyone. She has seen overwhelming response to his sudden death from friends and former teammates.

“He just lived life like he loved life,” she said. “He was happy. He was a presence in the room.”

The couple moved to Haddonfield in 1994, and Cain stayed involved in Ultimate Frisbee by playing in summer leagues with PADA.

“His passion was Ultimate Frisbee,” Valerie Cain said. “I think he liked the team spirit.”

In the 2016 interview, Cain said his “heart leaps” playing Ultimate Frisbee and that he couldn’t imagine his life without the sport.

“I want on my tombstone that I was a Frisbee player, and that’s all I ever wanted to be,” he said. “I just love it.”

Cain is survived by his wife, Valerie, and his two daughters, Shelby and Shannon. He is also survived by his mother, Mary; brothers, Gerald and John, and sister Dianne, as well as many nieces and nephews. Cain was predeceased by his father, Francis.

Relatives and friends are invited to a visitation on Friday, Aug. 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Kain-Murphy Funeral Home, located at 15 West End Ave. in Haddonfield. Memorial services will be held Saturday, Aug. 25, at 11 a.m. at the Lutheran Church of Our Savior, located at 204 Wayne Ave. in Haddonfield.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Ultimatepeace.org, a nonprofit dedicated to building bridges of friendship, trust and leadership through Ultimate Frisbee between youth who live in communities divided by conflict.

A memorial service will also be held by PADA at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, at Edgely Field, located in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.