Walden still helping Little League

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

If you can’t find Thomas A. Walden at his insurance office, it’s a good bet you’ll find him at the Ironton baseball fields.

Walden has been a long time sports enthusiast and spends a lot of time volunteering at Ironton Little League, 27 years to be exact. Monday night he was selling concessions during the League’s second annual “Quarter Hot Dog Night.”

“I enjoy working with the youth,” he said as he sold nachos, gum, and rainbow shaved ices. “And we have a really good group of volunteers down here.”

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Walden also manages a Little League team, helps gets sponsors for the black and orange signs around the field, stocks the concession stand and whatever else comes up during the season.

“I’m mainly just a doer,” he said.

The reason for Walden’s dedication to the league is his love of the game. He played in high school before an unsuccessful bid at professional baseball.

Besides coaching, he has also refereed high school basketball for 33 years.

“I’ve played softball my whole life,” he said. “And a lot of the guys out here that I coached (now have) their kids involved. So it’s all come around.”

The Ironton Little League doesn’t get money from any state or local agencies, he said.

“It all comes from donations,” Walden said. “The response from community sponsors is tremendous. They just give and give.”

Walden still plays softball and, for the past six years, he has gone to the Little League World Championship in Williamsport, Pa. And his insurance office is decorated with memorabilia from not only Little League, but from his meetings with baseball stars like Jim Palmer, Tommy John, Orel Hershiser, Ozzie Smith and broadcaster Brent Musberger.

Walden is excited since Ironton will host the district playoffs starting on July 9.

“It’s going to be a big thing for the town and the league,” he said. “There is going to be 17 different leagues playing here and it’s going to be a good time.”

Walden says he enjoys teaching the game to a new group of kids every year and watching them progress from being barely able to play T-ball to getting their first hit in a game to playing in high school.

“I just thoroughly enjoy this,” he said of the hours of work he puts in. “Your reward is seeing the smile on the kids’ faces.”