As Evans nears 98th birthday, she remembers best of tourney
Dorothy Evans doesn’t keep up with the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series like she used to.
Nearing her 98th birthday, Evans recalls going to the first JUCO game played in Grand Junction with her husband, Bob. She has a photograph clipped out of The Daily Sentinel of fans in the first-base stands, with the date 5-27-66 written neatly in the corner. That’s her and Bob high in the bleachers, sitting with a group of friends.
“I try (to keep up with the tournament) but I don’t need to anymore,” she said Thursday morning sitting in the lobby of The Fountains assisted living center in front of the fireplace she enjoys so much.
She might have someone turn on the television tonight when Game 18 is televised on Altitude 2 (Ch. 47 on Bresnan Communications in Grand Junction) and watch a few innings. She loves the game her husband played, and the two loved attending games. As they got older and Bob was in a wheelchair, they stopped going, because the crowds got too big and it was too hard to get around.
When Bob died in 1988, Dorothy asked for memorial contributions to the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department.
“So much money came,” she said. “We started out one day, we started driving around to see where that money could best be spent.”
She decided a water fountain at the ballpark would be the perfect thing.
“We came over there where Maxie Carroll’s is (the base of the flag poles is dedicated to Carroll, a longtime baseball fan) and we thought it would be ideal there. We asked permission to put it there,” she said. “That wasn’t what we did. We put it over by … good night, you know who … I know! ‘There will be no joy in Mudville, Mighty Casey has struck out.’ I remember that.”
The water fountain near the Casey at the Bat statue is dedicated to Bob Evans’ memory and is two-sided, so fans and players on either the football or baseball side of the park can get a cool drink.
“We dedicated it to Bob and the ballplayers,” she said.
Evans chatted about living near the ballpark on Elm Street, next to the Mesa State College campus, how the town and the tournament have changed and how much fun she and Bob had.
“He was a smart aleck,” she said, giggling. “He was! We had fun.”
He played professional baseball, but was hit in the side of the head in spring training, which ended his career. Fittingly, she said, they met at a ballpark.
“He played in Salt Lake, for the Utah Bees,” she said. “He came over here to work for the railroad, and he played ball. Did you ever see him play softball? He would catch the ball and bounce it and catch it and still throw him out.”
She got filled in on who was still playing in the final three days of the tournament and asked about Wednesday night’s game, which Howard (Texas) College won 12-11 over San Jacinto (Texas) College-North.
“Was it evenly matched? Oh, boy, that’s a lot of runs,” she said. “Are they playing good ball?
“It provokes me that they’re playing these final games and I don’t know what’s going on.”
They never missed a JUCO banquet, and she continued to go after Bob died, until a few years ago. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was her favorite speaker, even though she’s a Dodger fan.
“He said, ‘Play to win. I don’t care if you’re in second grade, play to win. There’s one thing I like better than reading, and that’s winning.’ He was the best speaker of all,” she said. “You do
gamble a little bit on who’s going to win, don’t you? That makes it fun.”
She has a thick scrapbook of photographs and newspaper clippings of happenings in Grand Junction that she loves to share with anyone who wants to reminisce.
“That’s what I tell people to do,” said Dorothy, who turns 98 on Nov. 13. “Gather happy memories. Be happy. That pays off as much as money. Almost.”