Last updated: August 24. 2013 11:22AM - 23 Views

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LIMA — Wading through the crowd of more than 100 people gathered at Joe Bowers Field for the official dedication was like a grand reunion. There were hugs and handshakes. At one point, someone jokingly suggested taking out drivers licenses so the familiar faces could be associated with names.On Tuesday at Lima Senior, the long-awaited dedication of the field named for the longtime Spartan baseball coach took place. The baseball game itself was cancelled, but that might have been just as well.It would have cut into the time everyone spent catching up.“That’s what it’s about,” Jim Tobin said. “These are guys I wouldn’t see at a class reunion because they weren’t all in my class. They were ahead of me or behind me. This is really special.”Tobin, an all-state player for Bowers and a member of the Lima Senior Distinguish Alumni Hall of Fame, was the major financial contributor to the field.Another attendee was Bill Sharp, who played four years of Major League Baseball for the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers. Sharp was the only player Bowers coached to make it to the big leagues.“I’m honored to be a part of the family of people who played for him. I’m honored to be here,” Sharp said.Bowers coached Lima Senior from 1955-75 and led the Spartans to their only baseball state title, in 1964, among six state final fours. His son, David, spoke during the ceremony.“We’re all just thrilled. We know Dad is here in spirit,” Bowers said. “He’d be humbled. He’d be really excited that a lot of kids will get to play here and develop their skills, learn a lot about life and the future.”The field will surely set itself apart. A sod infield and outfield, along with a brick backstop, highlight the playing area. Current Lima Senior coach Jimmy Morris said, “You’re not going to beat this field. There are not many colleges that can say they have a field like this, let alone high schools.”While Bowers, Tobin, Lima City Schools Superintendent Karel Oxley and Mayor David Berger spoke, members of the current Lima Senior baseball team stood along the third base line.For Dave Reynolds, the Lima Senior Distinguish Alumni Hall of Fame member who spearheaded the effort, those current and future players motivated him.“What we always wanted, as far as our concept of this diamond, was to give these kids something better than we had,” said Reynolds, who scored the winning run in the ’64 state championship game.“You look around in the surrounding areas and surrounding states and there are some really nice fields. We just wanted the same thing for our Lima Senior kids.”During his sophomore year at Lima Senior, Tobin played baseball on diamond six at Faurot Park. Then the team moved to Al Simmons Field. Tobin still has no idea who Simmons was.If the Bowers alumni have their hopes fulfilled, the future Spartans will know all about their legendary coach.“I’m hopeful this field turns out to be all that and more for the next generations,” Tobin said. “These kids can learn from what we did 40, 45 years ago.”

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