Memories many for coaching legend
Mike Fields recalls just a few of the highlights of his memorable 41-year coaching career:
“I remember having to drag the field at Eastern (Hancock High in Indiana, his first baseball head coaching job) with my new Ford Pinto – with an old set of mattress box springs. I have moved up since then. They never had any dugouts so I got some dads together and we built two, only to have high winds knock them down a few weeks later … bummer.
In 1976, my first sectional (district) championship as a coach at Eastern Hancock. The next day they gave us all a fire truck ride through the town of Wilkinson, Ind. (population a few hundred, probably), but you would have thought it was a ticker tape parade in New York City … great memory … that was their first sectional championship. I guess I fooled the kids into believing they could win.
The 1982 game against OHS. We were leading, 5-4, going into top of seventh inning at St. Cloud. Back then the muck fires from the dump would get bad in the evening and as the game progressed it became harder and harder to see. We went ahead and tried to finish the game but you had trouble seeing the outfielders … weird. The umpires wanted to finish the game, so, top of the seventh with two runners on with two outs. One of the Kowboys hit the ball to our center fielder, Dwayne Simmons. No one can see the ball, or Dwayne. Dwayne comes running in with the ball in his hand. He said he caught it, but no one knew for sure … and he wasn’t talking. Bulldogs win. The Kowboys were more than a little upset that night. I still don’t know if he did or not.
In 1985, we were in Washington, D.C. practicing at St. Albans School when a motorcade pulls up and (then) Vice President George Bush gets out of the limo with a slew of secret service. He wanted to play catch because he was throwing out the first pitch of a Mets game in a few days. The kids asked him to come out tomorrow and watch us play St. Albans, and he did. He sat in the dugout next to me for a couple of innings and just watched and spoke with all the players. I had a hard time focusing on the game with the VP (and future president) speaking to me. I don’t even remember if we won or lost.
In 1992 we were playing Florida Air Academy. Their pitcher was throwing a perfect game. They were leading 3-0 in the seventh inning. He hit our leadoff man, walked the next two, and then Miller Dunham hits a grand slam on the next pitch and we win 4-3. The pitcher walks off the mound shaking his head …
My first district championship at Harmony was special. We beat (then Poincina coach) Jimmy Moran, 1-0, in the first game, then we beat a superior Bishop Moore team to get to the finals. Then we beat St. Cloud to win it all.
“But, the best part was that I got to enjoy it while Coach Buddy Lowe was sitting beside me in the dugout, just a few years before he passed away. Coach Lowe was a dear friend and mentor to me since I moved to Florida. Buddy was a National High School Coach of the year, coached at Leesburg for many years and won 499 games … and graduated from St. Cloud High School.
Hopefully I have taught my players something other than baseball. I think I did.”