Rho Lambda Newsletter
The Brothers of the Mystic Circle have a new member. Jim Park passed away on January 29th, surrounded by his loving family. View his obituary and funeral plans here. We will furnish flowers for his funeral. Thanks to those who’ve donated. You can donate, too, here.
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Our Dec ’21 newsletter describes why our Goal Post hangs in Dennis Clowers‘ house. Prior to 2013, it hung in my living room for forty years, and before that, in the Deke house and before that, it was a goal post in Texas. The tale of this relic’s odyssey through time is the subject of future newsletters. But today I’ll just mention how, in 1956, three Dekes tore this white-painted piece of red cedar from the end zone of the Cotton Bowl. Since then, it’s basked in a life of glory amongst the Rho Lambda brotherhood. In a red-dirt nation whose flag is crimson and cream. The Sooner Nation.
On The Goal Post, one can make out two very faint, penciled names. One of them is Bob Ward…
From The ΔKE ΡΛ Literary Association
Kerothen, Bob Tierno, Chairman of the Board
ΡΛ Brother of the Month – BOB WARD
When I was a kid, everybody knew Mickey and Peewee and Yogi and Maris. Dirt diamonds were everywhere, and we played every day after school. Yeah, we loved baseball. But Bob’s love for the game goes way deeper than that.
“I was coaching Little League in Camargo, Oklahoma, when I was 15,” he told me. “I played at OU on a scholarship in ’58, second and third base and in the outfield. I was going to sign with the Red Sox, but a broken leg put a stop to that.”
Bob is proud of his family, too. ”My wife Sharrie and I have three kids. Pam is the oldest. Gregg and Mark both played baseball at OU. Gregg played in the minors for Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cleveland. I’ve got a grandson playing in the AAA Minor Leagues.
“Mark’s family lives here in Camargo, just behind us. He took over my coaching job when they retired my #5 jersey in 2000.“ I mused to myself how terrific it must be to listen to the conversations around Bob and Sharrie’s Thanksgiving Day table.
“My granddad started a bank in Camargo in 1911,” he said. “I worked there and eventually owned it. It was easy to leave work when I started coaching baseball, since I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission. I ended up coaching the Traveler’s team for 37 years. We won two state titles and, one year, we played in the American Legion World Series for the national title.”
He left out the part about winning over 70% of the almost 2,000 games he coached. And helping build his high school team a stadium built to college standards, so his players would be at home playing on those diamonds. And how his teams played from New York to Nevada, and from Nebraska to New Orleans. Imagine how many baseball scouts his players got to meet along the way.
His son, Gregg (he of 92 stolen bases in 85 games), returned in the summer of 1985 to help his dad coach the Travelers to the Oklahoma state championship and a trip to the American Legion World Series. Bob inspired four players to play in the pros. Three played on OU’s ’94 national championship team, including Ryan Minor, who hit a three-run homer to put the championship game away.
In ’56, I lived down the street from my high school baseball coach. We kids played ball on the big lot next door to his house. He came over one day, pointed at his house, and told us, “See that little window facing home base? I’ll give five bucks to anybody who breaks it.” We all tried, and finally, in late summer, Kenny belted an epic homer that ended with the sound of breaking glass.
We cheered when Coach appeared, but stopped when he jumped his fence and sprinted over to Kenny, asking, “Did you just break my window?!!” A terrifying silence. Then Coach grinned, produced the fiver, saying, “You’re a slugger, pal.” Kenny was suddenly ten feet tall. But Coach never had a team in the World Series.
Coaches like Bob Ward are exceedingly rare. He shows a kid how to pitch a blistering fastball, he teaches his teams how to set their cleats and belt home runs to win championships, and later in life, when countless numbers of his players literally have their futures on the line, Bob’s life inspires them still, and they swing for the stars. I’m proud to be one of Bob’s fraternity brothers. I wish him and his family well.
You’ve probably guessed, right? Bob Ward is one of the three Dekes who brought the Goal Post home to the Deke House. Rick Kingelin and Jim Mathews were his compatriots and they’ll be featured in upcoming newsletters. Their initiation of that broken piece of cedar into our OU brotherhood has elevated them onto pedestals fit for heroes.
Leave a comment if you wish, or contact us here. Keep an eye out for March’s Newsletter and Happy Valentines Day!
Thanks, BILL NATION and BOB TIERNO, for your generous donations and for those who made donations to the Mystic Circle. And to Dennis Clowers for his Goal Post sleuthing.
The ΡΛ Commo Crew