Panthers Win in Debut of Jeff and Carol Reese Field in New Richland
On the day the baseball field in New Richland was named in honor of its longtime coach and his wife, the NRHEG Panthers scored a walk off 3-2 win over PACT Charter School.
Hundreds of former players and supporters gathered to honor Jeff Reese, who coached the high school team from 1979-2013. He and his wife, Carol, put countless hours and personal resources into the team, the field and the baseball program. Reese's daughter Joy said, "Baseball is his passion. Growing up we all knew where to find dad if he wasn't at home. My mom would often joke, even though she was a bit perturbed, that dad would be buried on that field. He was out there so much." Joy said her mom "sacrificed of herself because she knew he was doing what he loved."
About her father, Joy stated, "His work on the field however pales in comparison to the influence he has had on the players that have graced it over the years. His steadfast manner, humble demeanor, compassionate nature, brilliant understanding of the game and love for the sport resonated with those who played for him. His lessons went beyond teamwork and translated to life after high school."
Reese addressed the crowd with "I'm so honored to have the field named after Carol and myself." Reese thanked those who made it possible for him to play and coach, including his mother and father, "They gave me the chance to play as an athlete. I know dad probably wanted me on the farm doing more chores." Of his wife, Carol, who sat in the dugout working the score book early in his career, "I found out that they played baseball not only because they loved it. But they wanted to sit by Carol in the dugout. She was quite a beauty. So she ended up probably being my best recruiter for baseball during that time." He added, "I wish she was here physically but I know in spirit she is."
Reese thanked his assistant coaches, the athletic administration, the players and parents and the coaches he played for at New Richland-Hartland as well as Waldorf College and Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He said he enjoyed coaching his own sons. He now coaches his granddaughter's fast pitch softball team. Reese was inducted into the Minnesota Baseball Coaches Association in 2009.
After the ceremony, NRHEG beat the PACT Charter School Panthers 3-2 with a two-run seventh inning. Dempsey Tucker drove in a run with an RBI-single, scoring Sawyer VanMaldegham to tie the game. John Hubly followed with a game-clinching single that scored Cole Staloch to win it. Jack Schultz got the victory on the mound, allowing three hits, striking out nine and walking six. Coach Drew Paukert said in an email to KRFO, "These last two games I have been extremely proud of our guy's efforts. We have been down in some close games and haven't hung our heads. We stuck with it and were able to pull this one one. It was an exciting game and great win for our boys on the day we renamed the field Jeff and Carol Reese Field."
The Panthers play at Blooming Prairie on Monday.
Paukert said the players spent a good portion of Friday's practice getting water off the field from that day's rain so that Saturday's ceremony and game could take place. The day was very windy and cool, but sunshine helped warm those in attendance.