Monday, January 26, 2015

THE SCOOP FROM THE OLD GUYS ON TIM EDWARDS

This isn't a day that makes Arizona special. It's 53 degrees at 8am and that makes it a day like anywhere USA. What you'd like is a day when it's 70 degrees waking up and an expected high of 96 and that's what makes Arizona a special place.


But just wait.

By the end of March the temperatures will be just about 96 and and you say to yourself, "Ugh!" and then you say to yourself, "but it's a dry heat". And you say that every day until about the middle of November. No problemo.

For the 8am shotgun start, I was intent on finding out as much as I could about Tim Edwards himself and finding out as much as I could about the baseball circle here in Casa Grande, south of Phoenix, and Central Arizona College in Coolidge. If you want the scoop, hook up in a golf foursome with a couple of lifelong baseball buddies, and then let them go.

"Have you seen ..."
"He died...."
"When you were coaching that kid..."
"That was one crazy..."
"I didn't have what it took as a player..."

The two were head baseball coach at Casa Grande High School John Batina and his friend of twenty-plus years Jeff Dean. Batina has coached CGHS for seventeen years and Dean is currently a happy social studies teacher at nearby Eloy Junior High School, but he was also a player and coach in the area for many years. Batina currently has one player on the CAC roster, Cooper Esmay (the son of former Arizona State baseball coach Tim Esmay).

"What a great kid" said Assistant Coach Jerry Hardin afterwards of Esmay during the awards luncheon.

"Yes, he was probably the best player I had when he was here" said Batina.

"Gili (CAC Head Baseball Coach) and I stay in touch, he's great at keeping the baseball community involved."

In three short months, I've found out that a successful baseball program is dependent on the baseball network. Talk and talk and talk to everyone, and you'll end up with the right players.


Jeff Dean (left)
Coach John Batina (right)

These two. Whew! It was hard to get a complaint about my swing in edgewise. They had 18 holes to catch up and they used every bit of it, I listened and gleaned what I could the whole while as I floated these magnificent draws into the cacti and desert sand. It's amazing how these "magnificent draws" as Dean mentioned, seem to get you into the places where no green grass is available, but always plenty of beautiful, succulent cacti.

Amazing I tell ya.

This is the annual Tim Edwards golf fundraiser for a player, teacher, and coach for the Central Arizona College baseball program who was mysteriously killed in 2005 on his ranch in Silver City, New Mexico. It's a mystery to the world, but not to the community. There's talk, people know what happened, but tight-lipped is the applicable phrase when you ask "why was he murdered?"

Who wants to speculate about that? Nobody.

The story goes that a father told police that his son  Michael James Snyder confessed to the killing of Edwards, later recanted, and to this day, the case remains open. Snyder and his "sister or girlfriend" as Dean volunteered, were questioned and declared persons of interest, but urban legend has it that there was inept investigating of the case. There were stories written by the local papers and an airing of the murder by America's Most Wanted, but the case remains unsolved. It's tough to find any real information on this case, so you listen to the locals talk and get what you can.

You just hate to pry.

Tim's son Todd plays in the tournament yearly, and the current baseball team at Signal Peak "works" the tournament and plays in it. Head baseball Coach Anthony Gilich facilitates the tournament with help from his assistant coaches and the CAC Athletic department.



From L-R:

CAC Athletic Director Chuck Schnoor
Head Coach Anthony Gilich
Asst. Coach Jerry Hardin
Asst. Coach: Jerry A'hearn (squeezed out because his beard didn't fit in the picture)

What a nice athletic community at Signal Peak this Central Arizona College is. I saw the school President Doris Helmick, Director of Purchasing Mark Salaz, Athletic Director Chuck Schnoor, just a few who attended. Them durned cheeseburgers for post game awards at Mission Royal Golf Club were a kick in the pants. Absolutely delicious, I know they were marinated in some sort of steak sauce. Gracious, give me more.

Baseball is life. And it's just better at the community college level. This was a good day for Tim Edwards, remembered for his contributions yet another year at Central Arizona College.

Baseball starts January 30th in Las Vegas and the team bus leaves Thursday morning.

BASEBALL SCHEDULE