Monday night marked the 14th Annual “Field of Dreams” Baseball Banquet, at the Claremore Convention Center. Special guest speaker, former New York Yankee, Chris Chambliss topped the list of local and national baseball celebrities, that included Washington Nationals’ announcer, Bob Carpenter; sports broadcasters, Big Al Jerkins and Cayden McFarland; Tulsa Drillers General Manager, Mike Melega; 1962 World Series MVP, Ralph Terry; former Oklahoma Military Academy, baseball coach, Luther Martin and Claremore Zebra Bryce Howe, who is now playing for the Miami Marlins.
The annual banquet hosted by Wayne McCombs, serves to raise funds to help support baseball programs in Claremore, including the baseball programs at Rogers State University and Claremore High School, the high school summer baseball program and the up-keep of Legendary Legion Field.
“Paul Pixley (sponsor of the Pixley Pirates, American Legion team) asked me, would I like to help out,” says McCombs. “Well OK, I played ball there so I guess it’s my turn to help make sure the park is ready.”
They were making repairs to the bleachers and field at American Legion Memorial Field on Blue Starr, Home of the Claremore Zebras and the American Legion baseball teams sponsored by Pixley Lumber and 1st Bank OK. Conceding that construction wasn’t his thing, McCombs though maybe there was another way he could help out, perhaps by helping them raise money to pay for all the upgrades and maintenance costs.
“I thought maybe we could get some of the Claremore kids who played minor league ball and maybe we could charge $10 per ticket,” said McCombs. “Well, it exploded and we had 250 people, and I thought we hit on something.”
Monday night’s program included silent and live auctions of sports memorabilia, Auctioneered by Bob Carpenter. Claremore Zebras Head Coach, Jim Sherl and Rogers State Hillcats Head Coach, Chris Klimas gave season recaps and program updates. Former Progress Sports Editor Jim Perry and “Voice of Zebra Baseball” announcer Dave Wilbur were inducted into the “Claremore Legends of Legion Field.”
At this time, they are still processing the nearly 100 auction sales, but McCombs feels certain that they met their fund raising goal for the evening of $20,000. To date, the “Field of Dreams” banquets have raised more than $250,000 to support baseball in Claremore.