Saturday was an end of a era for Lac qui Parle Valley baseball. Coach Bart Hill has been head baseball coach for the Eagles for 27 years and with Saturday’s loss to Murray County Central in the Section 3A playoffs it was the last time he will put on the number 10 uniform and walk to the third base coaching box.
Lots of emotions from everyone who loves and knows Bart. With all endings comes a sadness. Things as we know it will never be the same, but that is life. Bart has been a part of our familys life since he arrived in Madison in the early 90’s. My time with Bart began around 1993 when Bart started the Madison VFW team. My oldest son Joshua was on that team of 15 and 16 year olds. My favorite memory from Madison VFW baseball was when Bart lost a bet with the kids and they got to shave his head at home plate! The boys loved it, they sat Bart on a stool at home plate and brought out a hair clipper, then the players took turns shaving his head. He told me that would never happen again with a chuckle, but it did when the high school team went to state!
So many memories with Bart. Most of my memories have to do with broadcasting his games and him coming into the radio station to do the Coaches’ Show on Saturday mornings. My favorite memory is when the LQPV baseball team went to state. I won’t go into details, but how they got to the state championship game at Target Field was really miraculous. It was amazing. Something that I will always remember. I believe Bart wrote all the details down so we all could remember how that year went. I remember well, I was in my motel room at state where the team was staying and there was a knock at my door late at night. I got up and opened the door and Bart was standing there with a shaved head, well not completely shaved but a mohawk style type haircut! I stood there in shock! He came in and I reminded him about the promise he had made a long time ago that he wouldn’t make bets with his team. We both stood in my motel room looking into the mirror and laughing. Well at least I was laughing. He lost a bet again.
When Bart was elected into the Hall of Fame. It was fun hanging out with him and Julie and family and all the people that Bart has influenced over the years in their motel room. We were all talking baseball and sharing memories. It was a great evening! Bart played a big part in my sons lives as well and I am grateful for that. My son Brandon’s love for the game of baseball is because of Bart. Brandon lives in Montevideo and is involved with Legion and Jr Legion baseball at the state level and part of the Montevideo High School baseball coaching staff. Many of Bart’s former players and there are many of them, went on to play town ball. Look at the rosters of Madison, Appleton and Rosen, they are full of former Lac qui Parle Valley ball players. Bart even officiated at the wedding of one of his former players at Madison Memorial Baseball Field. That speaks volumes about the relationship Bart has had with so many young people.
Think of how many lives Bart has influenced over the years coaching baseball. A teacher and a coach is a noble profession. Bart has gone above and beyond the call of duty and has done it well.