Harold North

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Harold North was born on January 8, 1933 at home on a farm in Clay County, Kansas. Harold was born on the same date as Elvis but 2 years older! His parents were Jim & Alice North. Their farm was between the towns of Industry and Wakefield.north-4002

 Harold North was born on January 8, 1933 at home on a farm in Clay County, Kansas. Harold was born on the same date as Elvis but 2 years older! His parents were Jim & Alice North. Their farm was between the towns of Industry and Wakefield. The county lines of Dickinson and Clay Counties run down the middle of the street in Industry, which was once a thriving rural community.Industry, Kansas was a “hotbed” for fast pitch softball. Harold became an avid student and player of fast-pitch softball because of this early influence in his life. Cornrows now grow where the old ball diamond once hosted spirited town rivalry games.

Harold attended High School in Chapman but dropped out to work on various farms in Clay County until taking a job in Enterprise, Kansas with JD Ersham Foundry. He poured iron for the foundry at the age of 17 and later became a molder and core maker. He continued to live at home in Industry but worked for the Foundry until January 29, 1952 when he volunteered to join the Army. Harold was a Signal Corpsman in the Army and earned the rank of Sergeant. He spent 1 week short of one year in Korea before being honorably discharged, January 14, 1954.

While in the Army in 1952 stationed at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, Harold played with baseball legend Whitey Ford on their army base fast pitch softball team. The Army pulled Harold out of basic training school to play ball.

After returning to the iron foundry to work after his tour of duty, Harold left his foundry job in Clay County in the fall of 1954 and began work in Topeka at the Goodyear Tire Company. Harold's Uncle, Don Lane, had worked at Goodyear since 1945 so Harold was familiar with the work and benefits offered there. Uncle Don gave him advice on when to hire on and what to expect when he got there.

Harold retired from Goodyear in July 1994 after a 40-year career. His first job at Goodyear was building dual bead truck tires and later built road tractor tires. His Goodyear career included jobs of curing truck and tractor tires, then a balance man for a number of years where he filled in variety of jobs. Harold's last duty at Goodyear was inspector of truck and tractor and finally earthmover tires.

Harold appreciated the support and help he received from Goodyear management for his work with SCABA. Larry Robbins, Dick Dodson and Don Northcraft especially were ready and willing to help when needed. Harold played some ball with Dick Dodson and Dick would help Harold with the instructional aspects SCABA teams he coached, especially in the early years at SCABA. Dick would show up at practice at least once a year to work with the pitchers.

Harold was a good fast pitch softball player and spent most of his playing days on a softball diamond but started playing baseball in Clay County at the age of 15 for the Clay Center American Legion team as a catcher. In the first game he ever caught, he has the distinction of throwing a runner out at second base by knocking him out with the baseball hitting him in the head. Another distinction was an offer to play catcher for a Milwaukee Braves farm team in 1954 but just back from Army and did not want to go back on the road.

Harold began coaching baseball when his first son Jay was 8 years old. He kept on coaching at SCABA when his youngest son Doug was ready to play. Harold started his volunteer work with youth baseball helping with a Highland Park Booster league team until he began coaching the Royals at SCABA in 1968. Teams he coached at SCABA include the Marling’s Mavericks, Crowns, Bullets, Chips, Chucks Gym, Shaffer - Rappert’s Insurance Royals and Capitols. Harold’s teams were always competitive. His teams played in several regional level tournaments, AABC sanctioned as well as many invitational tournaments. Highlight years were the 1979 Chips that went 36-0, the 1981 Chucks Gym team (61-4), the 1983 Capitols team (59-10), 5 consecutive league titles (1979-83) and 2 AABC Kansas state titles in 1981 and 1983 and Eagles Lodge State Tournament in 1983.

Harold's teams were always ready to play. He made the kids work hard and competitive in practice but also made it fun.He demanded that his teams hustle at all times. Harold would tell his teams before taking the field in important games, “Don't come back to the dugout after the game and say if you had hustled more we could have won”. Harold always emphasized that “Hustle” is the cheapest thing you can do on the ball field.He would sometimes say to them, “Take Charlie (Hustle) with them today”. Harold taught the kids to bunt with precision to the point that the bunt sign was also the sign to steal and if you were bunted over from first base and did not hear coach yell “stop”, you kept running to third! When batting, Harold emphasized “get your feet set and ready to put the ball in play”. He told his players to “take a rip at the first two pitches and put the ball in play”.

Harold's wife Mary is from Clay Center. Harold and Mary were married on May 27, 1955. Mary attended Brown Mackey business school and worked for American Home life Insurance Company in Topeka. When the kids started coming along, she decided to take the bigger job at home raising 4 kids including their daughters Pam and Terri.

Harold knew Mary was mostly bored at the games but always appreciated her support of him and the boys, their work and play at SCABA. Mary ran a home day care service for 20 years and still had time to attend the games and run kids back and forth to SCABA. Pam and Terri worked at SCABA as gatekeepers and occasionally in the concession stand. Both Jay and Doug were groundskeepers and worked on the fields getting them ready for play with help from Dad when it rained.

Harold served SCABA for 16 years as a coach and manager, as well as on the SCABA Board of Directors, and had the responsibility as groundskeeper for many years and tournament director for a couple of years. Harold coached over 100 kids at SCABA and tried to give them lessons they could apply not just on the baseball field but also for life.

Harold's dedication to the kids, respect for the rules, and his teaching made a difference in the lives of many kids who took the experience of competition, hard work and team dedication and applied to their life. Harold North's service to SCABA and his many contributions to the boys of summer at SCABA is his Legacy.

The permanent and prominent naming of Harold North Field and establishing the Harold North Field endowment will insure future generations are served and the history is preserved. This is an appropriate honor for the many contributions by Harold North to Shawnee County Amateur Baseball Association and the kids he coached. The SCABA complex is now known as the Bettis Family Sports Complex.

The HAROLD NORTH FIELD dedication and SCABA reunion was Saturday, September 25, 2010.

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