As soon as a Lark, usually a Lark.
Although their time in the program may be fleeting, every single participant that has donned a Hays Lark uniform is component of a longstanding and treasured baseball tradition.
And the tradition was celebrated in fashion on Friday night time at Larks Park.
The Larks welcomed back about 60 former players as the staff celebrated its 75th anniversary through a 10-4 get in excess of the Denver Cougars.
“The fellas, I never get to be with them but for a person summer season, occasionally a pair summers. It goes very brief,” Larks supervisor Frank Leo said. “But the associations, they are long lasting.”
For Leo, in his 40th season at the helm of the Larks, it was “a move again in time.”
“The final time I observed a large amount of them, they have been on the other facet of the fence playing,” he mentioned. “Just a wonderful emotion. This application has appear a prolonged approaches considering that some of these guys played in this article. The guys that performed for me early just can not feel the ambiance. They’d say ‘Coach, we had more men and women in this article tonight than we did in a few overall seasons when we performed.’
“It can be a tribute to wherever our method is and what the community is executing for our application and what we’re carrying out for the group.”
The alums on hand had been honored amongst innings.
“It truly is neat to come back and see that every year, they are hoping to get superior, and the local community is nevertheless supporting them that is the coolest detail about coming to Hays,” claimed Aaron Cornell, who played for the Larks for four many years from 2011 to 2014 and then coached with the staff right until 2018.
Reminiscences came flooding back again to Cornell, who played at Oklahoma State and now is an assistant mentor at Murray State.
“The biggest point is getting a (beverage) batter on a night time and owning all those nerve-racking at-bats,” Cornell mentioned with a smile.
The Lark Legends existing included Jim Leyritz, who gained Entire world Series championships with the New Yankees in 1996 and 1999. He played with the Larks in 1985.
“It can be a tribute to Jim, coming in all the way from California,” Leo said. “This was a section of his move, he signed appropriate after the NBC Planet Sequence with the Yankees. A very particular time for him.”
Just one of the major thrills for Leo was seeing a pair gamers — Bruce Anthony and Greg Bailey — from the first Larks’ workforce he coached in 1981.
“It is really been a extensive time considering the fact that I’ve viewed them,” Leo said. “It was rather particular for them to arrive back again.”
Larks’ teammates that Leo played with in the 70s have been also on hand, including Pat James, Rod Ruder, Denny Staab and Galen Pfannenstiel.
“It can be been a fairly distinctive weekend for me,” Leo reported.
Arlen Walters, a important figure in Larks’ historical past, was honored in advance of the game by getting the lineup out to the umpire. Walters played and managed for the Hays Larks in the 1950s and 1960s.
“He’s a Lark from back in the working day,” Leo explained. “He just missing his spouse back in the fall. He produced a drive from Vegas all the way by himself to be here. Really proud of him.
“He obtained to take the lineup out to residence plate tonight and he was thrilled to loss of life with that.”
Cornell, who Leo known as a enthusiast favourite, said he liked re-connecting with previous Lark teammates.
“Ran into some fellas I did not be expecting to see right here and haven’t viewed (for a very long time),” he stated. “Catching up with them is just unbelievable, observing exactly where every single just one is at. People today have children, people have gotten married. Just seeing individuals fellas have those people points is kind of surprising. It’s been truly interesting. And viewing some of the older men has been genuinely awesome.”
Cornell mentioned Hays was like his property away from dwelling for four summers.
“I give a great deal of credit score to my host family members, Danielle Lummus and Lane Lummus,” Cornell explained. “It was just like dwelling. They were like my next mother and father. The host households really get you in and make you sense at house.”
Gary and Deb Weatherbee, who have been serving as a host family members for the Larks because the mid 1990s, ended up acknowledged among innings.
Cornell praised Leo for building the Larks into a community staple and welcoming a family members ambiance.
“He’s normally out for the finest fascination for you as very well as the workforce — that’s what I loved about him. I’m a large crew person,” Cornell claimed. “He appears to be just after this program and normally takes treatment of it.”
On the industry, the Larks moved to 8-1 on the season.
Fourth-calendar year Lark Wyatt Divis gave up just one operate on 7 hits in 6 innings on the mound, placing out 6 with no walks. Grant Lung had a few hits and Leo Jiminian came up with two clutch hits, together with a two-operate double off the prime of the wall to drive in two.
“Leo experienced a heck of a night time tonight,” Leo mentioned. “Barreled the ball, bought us in advance. Experienced a good activity. And Wyatt is Wyatt, he’s going to compete. And I am hoping his competitiveness just keeps putting on off on our ball club.”
Leo explained it was fitting for the team to engage in well in front of the previous Larks.
“We showed our alums that this could be the club that maybe takes us to the promiseland this summertime,” Leo stated. “A great deal of good things have to happen and we have to keep absent from injuries.
“I like the club we have. We’ve bought a whole lot of unique points.”
The Larks were set to perform the Cougars in the next match of the series on Saturday ahead of closing the collection out at 7 p.m. Sunday at Larks Park.