Baseball supporters hope to dedicate field to committed volunteer

Jim Martin gave much of his time and resources to Vashon Youth Baseball and the high school baseball program during his 25 years on the Island.  - File Photo
Jim Martin gave much of his time and resources to Vashon Youth Baseball and the high school baseball program during his 25 years on the Island.
— image credit: File Photo

The Vashon school board is expected to pass a motion Thursday to name Vashon High School’s baseball field after Jim Martin, an Islander known for his unflagging support of youth baseball who died in January.

The proposal, introduced by VHS baseball coach Steve Hall at the school board’s March 10 meeting, was supported by letters from student athletes as well as community baseball supporters.

Hall said the naming of Jim Martin Field is appropriate not only because Martin spent the last 25 years of his life volunteering for, coaching and promoting Vashon Youth Baseball and Softball (VYBS) as well as the high school baseball team, but because Martin worked tirelessly to acquire donations for new dugouts, storage facilities, batting cages, scoreboards and other amenities at the field.

“He has been an organizer and contributor for many years to bring our VHS field to what it is today,” Hall said.

Martin, who played baseball at the University of Montana, moved to Vashon with his wife Anne in 1985 and poured his considerable energy and enthusiasm into youth baseball, umpiring as many as 126 games a season at his peak. He also served as the high school baseball coach for a year and assistant coach for about a decade.

Martin also developed a training program for young umpires on Vashon, led volunteer work parties and performed maintenance at Vashon baseball fields and even put his own money toward community baseball needs.

Cameron Bard, who graduated from VHS is 2006, said in a letter to the school board that Martin was his “baseball grandpa” and “the one constant thing” in Vashon baseball, and that the field naming was overdue.

“There was no doubt about it, from the cap that we wore, to the soft hands of a ball player, this was a man who had devoted his entire life to baseball and was now giving it all back to the next generation,” he wrote.

The same proposal was considered by the school board in 2006, but was opposed by one board member who Hall said was uncomfortable naming the field after a living person.

This time, Hall said, he sees no reason the board would not approve the motion.

“There’s no conflict at all on the Island,” Hall said.

He added that VYBS has already begun the process of creating a sign for the field, and the organization’s opening ceremonies in late April will include a field dedication.

In addition, in April VHS baseball will hold its first annual alumni game in honor of Martin, a fundraiser for the program that will include a barbecue and raffle.

Greg Martin, Jim Martin’s son and president of the Vashon Island Soccer Club, said his father would feel honored to see the baseball field named after him.

“He always wanted to leave a legacy of baseball with people, so I think he would really, really appreciate the community doing that,” he said.

Greg Martin also said his father would want the dedication to remind others of the importance of giving to youth sports.

“I think he would want to remind people as they walk up to the field that a field doesn’t just happen by itself; it takes somebody, and it takes many somebodies to get it done,” he said.

<b>Vashon Youth Baseball and Softball is accepting donations for a sign for the field.

The Jim Martin Inaugural Alumni Baseball game will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Vashon High School. The suggested donation is $20.</b>

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