For the past three decades, Andy Young knew exactly where he’d be from mid-April to mid-July.
Spending nearly every evening at the Glenwood ball fields coordinating leagues, selling concessions, settling disputes, and even umpiring games, Young was the consummate youth baseball and softball “commissioner” in Glenwood.
Young announced earlier this year he would not be returning to run the youth league he’s been a part of since the mid-1980s.
“I was getting into my third generation of kids with parents and their kids so I think that was probably a sign to get out,” Young joked.
Young first joined the league as a coach and after his son grew up, he stuck around, joining the league’s management board before eventually taking over running the league. For the last 15 years, Young, Denny Newman and Jim Evans had served on the board.
“We did scheduling, registration, all of it,” Young said. “The city took care of the fields and put down the chalk lines. We raised money to put agri-lime down but they took care of the field.”
Young spearheaded a $30,000 fundraiser campaign a few years ago to apply agri-lime on the fields, a chemical that allows the fields to dry quicker after rain to prevent cancellations.
The job was always strictly volunteer. Young was never paid a dime to run a league that featured over 600 players and dozens of teams playing five nights a week at its peak. In the last decade, Young made running the league a family affair. His wife, Polly coordinated concessions and his daughter Clydie, and husband Chris also helped out.
Young joined the league when it was playing by little league rules; he was part of the transition to the Pony league rules that remain in place today. His top priority when he took over running the league was simple: inclusion. He wanted every kid to get a chance to participate and he wanted to keep costs affordable. The most a kid would ever pay to play was $45.
“There were some coaches that didn’t always give all the kids a fair shot,” Young said. “It was their kids and then the other kids. There wasn’t enough treating kids as an equal. I did this for the kids. I wanted all the kids treated equally and nothing handed to ‘em. That was the reason I stayed around so long.”
The irony of Young’s dedication to all things youth baseball is he doesn’t consider himself a baseball fan and doesn’t have a major league team he roots for. Young is literally a fan of the kids.
“I can sit and watch a game of seven and eight year olds to 13 and 14-year-olds all day long but after that (age) it just gets boring to me,” he said. “To watch a kid make a play and see him beam from ear-to-ear, that’s what I enjoy. To watch the kids grow is huge for me.”
The Mills County YMCA will take over coordination of the league this year. Taylor Graybill, the YMCA’s Youth Sports Director will run the league that has 365 players on 34 teams already signed up. Diana Burchett, director of the Mills County YMCA said very little will change with the league’s management from Andy’s tenure.
“We’re updating some equipment but that’s pretty much it,” she said. “We’re keeping costs the exact same and we’re knew at this so we’re asking Andy a lot of questions. He’s been very gracious in helping us.”
When talking of the league’s transition this year, Young speaks like a proud parent handing over his child to the unknown. He likes the YMCA and feels their involvement could improvement enrollment in the long run if handled correctly.
“I hope they take good care of it,” he said. “My big thing was I never denied a kid the right to play. They wanted to play, they played. There was no talk of qualifying for a ‘scholarship’ to play or this or that. They were just another kid playing. I hope they continue to do that and don’t make it obvious a kid can’t afford to pay. I mean there were times we bought shoes and gloves for kids.”
Young’s “full time job” is a custom builder, the spring and summer are busy times for him. That, coupled with Young’s duties as mayor of Pacific Junction, made for a full schedule already.
“I felt like I had given enough here I could walk away and still do some things as Mayor down there,” he said. “I’ll miss it, sure. I’ve already started to miss it. I’ll miss the kids most of all. It was the kids that got me into this.”
Young is also looking forward to some time off, he and his wife own a cabin in Minnesota he doesn’t get to see as much he’d like.
“I’m going to miss the kids but it’s going to be kind of nice to have a summer,” he said. “I think 30 years is long enough to be into something.”
Young won’t be gone from the fields completely. He has some grandkids playing this season.
“I’ll be around,” he said. “I’ll finally be up in the stands watching.”