Loeb Stories - Colt World Series
The Aviators worked with BoilerComm, Purdue's student run public relations firm, to gather stories from those that have been involved with Loeb Stadium over the years. Here is what they gathered with Tim Clark, former President of the local Colt World Series Committee. For more stories, see:
- Paul "Spider" Fields, Bill Olds, and Mark Strader - Lafayette Jeff Baseball
- Tim Bordenet - Lafayette Central Catholic Baseball
- Joe Bumbleburg - American Legion Baseball
- Mayor Tony Roswarski - City of Lafayette
- Brad Cohen - Lafayette Leopards & Arni's Restaurant
- Fan Stories
Feature Story on Interview with Tim Clark of the Colt World Series
Tim Clark, current facilities director of West Lafayette, has always loved baseball. It isn’t just watching the game that he loves, but the rush when the ball hits the bat or the feeling that takes over while running the bases. Tim wanted to see baseball affect Lafayette as much as it has affected him.
It was in the moments where he watched players stomachs fill with butterflies as they waited to bat next, where Clark saw the power of the game. As time seemed to stop, Tim would pay attention to every detail as moments like these come around only once in a while. It was in the moments where he watched young baseball stars take a deep breath before they choked up on the bat, knuckles nearly white. Clark would cheer silently from the sidelines as he watched the magic happen- one deep breath and then the ball rush straight towards those players. In moments such as those, everyone in Loeb would hold their breath. And then, before the clock could even tick, the bat would hit the ball. Every eye would trace the ball’s route as first, then second then third base were rounded. Before anyone could notice, the score board would light up- home run! The crowd would explode, as if the only care in the world was for that game. It was in moments such as these that baseball brought light to the town of Lafayette. Unforgettable moments.
50 years ago, baseball was in full force, being an influential force in the lives of many and stealing a piece of Lafayette’s heart. In the 1960’s, Pony Baseball was holding their annual Colt World series all over, moving year to year, never calling one place home. Teams from all around the world collectively followed the moving games to wherever they were held- eagerly waiting and anticipating the games. It wasn’t until 1969, however, with baseball-spirited hearts and a beautiful stadium to back, did the people of Lafayette petition to have The Colt World Series here, at Loeb. And, from then on out, for 48 years, Loeb Stadium was filled with thousands of excited faces for the Colt World Series.
Since the world series started in Indiana, the town of Lafayette appeared livelier. Per usual, the summer was hot, but the town was more full. License plates came from as far as Pennsylvania. Empty hotel rooms were hard to come by. The anticipation in the town was electrifying. This wasn’t any typical summer, it was the start of something big- it was game time. It was the first year the Colt World Series would be held in Lafayette, Indiana.
The first time the World Series was held here in Lafayette, Loeb stadium was the place to be. 180 kids took the field for the first time, all from different backgrounds, all ready to give it their everything they got. Thousands of people swarmed the gates to see their sons, daughters, friends, and family play in such a memorable game of baseball. The resulting crowd quickly gathered to 4,000, all eagerly watching the game. Never used to playing in front of a crowd this large, the players couldn’t be prepared enough see to what they were about to see.
Tim Clark, served as the players first warm welcome. And, with every warm welcome Clark gave these players a speech that was meant to prepare them for this crowd and game of a lifetime.
Clark exclaimed to the kids, “ to have these players understand that they’re going to be in front of 4 thousand people to play a baseball game, that they’ll see lots of little kids running around and these kids are going to look at them and think that they are a major league baseball player ,but then these kids will walk through the stadium and see 4 thousand people and to see their faces when they walk out into the stadium and go ‘Oh my god,’ well, it was incredible.”
And so, onto the field the players would go. The light of excitement on their faces was the brightest thing in the entire stadium. Smiles stretched wide, looking out at the stadium, with Loeb staring straight back at them while the people cheered and the young baseball stars cheered back. Autographs were asked by the youth just as fast as they could be signed. The kids felt special, united and encouraged.
Loeb brought joy, what baseball is all about. Loeb then served to unify Lafayette with the world.
When the young athletes would come to play in Loeb for the Colt World Series, they stayed with host families. Host families were families from the local community that would take these young athletes into their homes, integrate them into their families, and cheer them on at ball games. They would invite them to their table, cooked their favorite meals and made sure they had a clean uniform to wear in the morning. Tim Clark said that in his home, the moment one would step through his door they were immediately considered to be a son. Truly integrated them into his family. The time spent cheering these kids while they played ball, quickly turned to him cheering them on as their wife walked down the aisle and now he awaits to cheer on their kids, hoping they too will one day get to play in Loeb. Housing a baseball player was much more than simply giving them a bed to sleep in, it was a way to unite Lafayette and its families with world.
Tim Clark spoke of an effort that sits very close to his heart - The Champions League of Pony. This league allowed children with disabilities a chance to experience baseball for themselves, to feel the same feeling that anyone who’s lucky enough to hold a bat feels. The children would get paired with a baseball player from a local team and get to explore the art of the sport. The love poured on these kids created memories of a lifetime, Clark explained, for both the kids and the baseball players. Loeb was the vessel that allowed the Lafayette community to grow in love, a memory many will never forget.
Loeb has always played a sizable role in the lives of Lafayette. With the old Loeb coming down, it’s easy to think that this role would change, however, the memories that Tim Clark spoke on won’t go away when the Old Loeb goes. Instead they will be rebuilt in the new stadium, integrated into every brick and honored with every swing of the bat.
For the full audio and transcript of the BoilerComm's interview with Tim Clark, visit: http://www.lafayettebaseball.com/promo/cws-transcript.