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A Dynamic Diamond Duo

A Dynamic Diamond Duo

Congratulations to Jim and Bonnie Winder on being voted into the National Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. What an absolutely great and deserving honor for the husband/wife team. Lou Hunsinger does a great job of covering the couple’s commitment and journey in providing youth baseball in the West End of Williamsport for over four decades. Lou knows baseball and history.

Babe Ruth Baseball is very important to the transition and teaching of the game to young players as they step off the Little League size diamond onto the full-size field. From that point on, the only thing that really changes is the distance of the outfield fences.

I know Jim and Bonnie very well, as both of my sons played West End Babe Ruth Baseball. I consider them family and, in the same manner, honored that the Webbs are considered part of the West End family. We have shared a lot of ball games together across the country with the great folks of West End
baseball. There are many outstanding volunteers in the West End League, in addition to Jim and Bonnie, that make this happen, but for this article, I want to focus on the National Hall of Fame couple.

The hard work, blood, sweat, and tears they have put in over the years are immeasurable. Jim and Bonnie are truly hands-on people. I can’t even imagine how many hours they put in over the years in the name of West End Babe Ruth.

Jim has a great ability to bring local players from across the West Branch Valley together. I don’t believe you could ever estimate this importance to so many area players over the years, regarding how they learned the game and to play together as a team. In many cases, it’s their first stepping out of a comfortable hometown league into the unknown. This helps to prepare teenagers not only for high school but for their future on and off the diamond. And this applies whether they play just the regular season together or are fortunate enough to make a run to a World Series.

In today’s world of cell phones and social media, it is much easier for the kids to know each other from other communities before they step onto the West End diamond. However, think back to before the technology of today. Many lifelong friendships began with meeting over West End Baseball.

I should throw in here that just because the kids of today are more likely to know each other prior to competing against each other and playing together at West End, that doesn’t mean they have previously met in person beyond that electronic device of their choosing. West End provides that place for this to happen. It’s pretty hard to be texting each other as you’re trying to turn a 6-4-3 double play.

In today’s world of technology, any sport that brings young people together face-to-face and makes them put the cell phone down is a win. A suggestion to coaches and parents when you take them out after practice or a game for pizza, don’t let them text across the pepperoni and cheese; encourage direct conversation. I know this is a big ask.

Now back to Bonnie and Clyde, I mean Jim, of course, just seeing if you’re paying attention. Although that would have made a great cover, have them dressed up like Bonnie and Clyde with Winder Field in the background. I betyou, Jim and Bonnie would have been
all in for that idea.

Seriously though, a tip of my Salt Lake City World Series cap to the dynamic duo. Thank you for bringing families together to share time over the great game of baseball. As I’ve written before, my Father was a big West End fan, and we got to share a special trip together as a family to a town we probably would have never visited. Those memories mean even more as time passes.

And again, congratulations to Jim and Bonnie on your induction into the Hall of Fame. I wish you great health, an early Spring, and another 40 years of working your magic in the West End of town.

It’s only fitting to end this with, as you’re reading this, pitchers and catchers are reporting to Spring Training.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb