SIOUX CITY – “Now the children try to find it
And they can’t believe their eyes
For the old team just isn’t playing
And the new team hardly tries.’’ Old Blue Eyes, among others.
The above isn’t just a metaphor for the loss of a ballyard.
Any loss, really, filled with emotion.
Far too early, Sioux City lost “The Father of Slow-Pitch’’ in Our Town with the passing of Bob Prescott in December of 1981.
Prescott, whose slow-pitch teams were nearly unbeatable over the years, was just 40 when he lost to an even more dreaded opponent, cancer.
But not until he had contributed mightily to solid establishment of the sport of slow-pitch.
Fittingly, Bob has been inducted into the Iowa Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame in the 12-inch variety of the sport.
It was about time.
Prescott is just the third from Sioux City slow-pitch to be so honored, joining Rick Scott and Doug Barr. Scott was a standout for years on powerful Prescott’s Plumbing teams.
Prescott was honored in several areas – magnificent contributor, marvelous sponsor and major developer.
Prescott started playing slow-pitch in 1968 when the sport was pretty much a “church league’’ recreational endeavor locally and organized league play was contested on the flat ground on diamonds below the dressing room building at now Olsen Stadium.
It was there that Prescott began dreaming slow-pitch on a much larger scale.
By 1972 there were approximately 30 teams in town longing for a badly-needed facility.
It was then that Prescott was elected chair of a site and development committee charged with planning a new complex on city-owned land.
Floyd Complex did not spring to life overnight.
Extensive fundraising, donations and gifts, some city matching money and hard work and sweat generated by Prescott and many, many others resulted in what became a five-diamond complex on Floyd Boulevard in 1974.
With Prescott applying pressure, more diamonds, restrooms, chain link outfield fences and a a pressbox/storage building and bleachers came in time.
The Prescott Dream beame reality right before his eyes.
Later on, he also played an integral role in introducing women’s teams at Floyd.
Prescott was overjoyed to see the old ballyard in Morningside move to Floyd, no tears there.
Sadly, he wasn’t around, though, when “his’’ Floyd, because of city expansion, was moved to the south end of the city.
“Softball became such a passion with our family’’ says his widow, Marilyn. “Hours and hours at games and tournaments here in town and out of town.
“It was great fun, but also hard work and dedication on Bob’s part.’’
The induction ceremony was beyond special according to Marilyn, who handled the financial books for the team for years.
“I think there were 25 relatives, friends, players from our teams in Des Moines and some came a long way. It was quite emotional for me, tears, you know.
Her son Steve and daughter Stacy were in attendance. Another son, Scott, has also passed away.
One of the former players at the ceremony was Dan Wanderscheid, a star of the first magnitude on Prescott teams.
The former baseball pitcher at Bishop Heelan, Centerville Junior College (now Indian Hills Community College) and old Parsons College, was one of the most feared home run hitters in the game.
It wasn’t unusual for Wanderscheid to wallop 80 to 90 home runs a summer. He once belted over 100 out of the yard.
“Bob was a clear-thinker about developing the game and as a sponsor was willing to put teams out there that could compete throughout the Midwest and nationally,’’ said Wanderscheid. “We had outstanding athletes on our teams and Bob always wanted local guys.’’
In 1982, Prescott’s team won an ASA Class A regional at Floyd and qualified for the national tourney in Tulsa, Okla.
The 1977 club won 90 games and lost only 19.
There are still ballparks here in Our Town. Maybe the name “Prescott’’ should be on them.
As Morningside quarterback Trent Solsma pursues an NAIA All-America dream (with tons of help of course) he might take some incentive from a former NAIA All-America QB.
In 1963, George Bork earned the NAIA honor after becoming the first college quarterback at any level to throw for 3,000 (3,077) yards in a season.
In those days an Associated Press Little All-America team was chosen (witness Morningside’s Connie Callahan in 1949) and Bork was also a first-team pick on that honor team in ’63.
He then led Northern Illinois, Iowa’s opponent Saturday, to a 21-14 win over Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State) in the Mineral Water Bowl in Excelsior Springs, Missouri.
Contrary to a popular myth, Bork did not lead NIU to something called the NAIA College Division national championship (there is no such thing).
St. John’s of Minnesota defeated Prairie View A&M in the NAIA national title game in Sacramento, California, in 1963, 33-27.
The game at that time was called the Camellia Bowl.
Prairie View beat Kearney (Neb.) State in the first round and St. John’s topped College of Emporia (Kan.).
Northern Illinois has never played in an NAIA title game.
While slow-pitch softball remains, although far from thriving, in Sioux City, the fast-pitch game in Our Town died several years ago.
And that after the glory days that included hosting the ISC World Tournament in 1986-91-95.
Any fast-pitch devotees still out there might be interested to know the New York Gremlins out of Clifton Park, New York, defeated Circle Tap of Denmark, Wisconsin, in the ISC championship game a week ago, 8-1, in Kitchener, Ontario.