75 and still giv­ing back to base­ball

The Drumheller Mail - - SPORTS - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail John Lowry mailphoto by Pa­trick Ko­lafa

A Drumheller man with 65 years of experience on the base­ball field is shar­ing his wis­dom with the next gen­er­a­tion, and the gen­er­a­tion af­ter that.

The name John Lowry and base­ball are al­most syn­ony­mous in Drumheller. This year he is coach­ing Rookie Ball with play­ers ages 7-9, and pass­ing on his ex­ten­sive knowl­edge of the game. He fell back into coach­ing al­most by ac­ci­dent.

“I went to watch my grand­son prac­tice and they were all stand­ing around. I asked who was coach­ing, and they said ‘we don’t know yet.’ So I gave them a prac­tice,” he ex­plained. “All the par­ents called my son and told him to get me to coach.”

He is go­ing on three years back coach­ing and he loves to work with the kids.

“To see the ex­pres­sion when they do some­thing good, like mak­ing a hit or pick­ing up the ball, I like see­ing how they make friends and how their skills de­velop,” said Lowry.

Lowry him­self played ball in the Val­ley as a young­ster. In fact in 1952, he played in the very first Drumheller Lit­tle league, and con­tin­ued all the way up to ju­nior, but stepped out of the Val­ley to play Se­nior A ball.

“I played for Ed­son, Grande Prairie, the Cal­gary Car­di­nals,” he said. “I quit play­ing hard­ball when I was 33, and then be­gan play­ing fast­ball for about 25 years.”

Back in Drumheller, he coached the men’s team for a few years un­til the league folded, and has also played some se­nior slow pitch.

His car­rier spanned from play­ing in the first Lit­tle League at the Wye Di­a­mond, where the court­house cur­rently sits, and the coached the last men’s that played at John An­der­son Park.

He also um­pired for at least 25 years and he played a role in the for­ma­tion of the lo­cal Um­pire as­so­ci­a­tion and spent time as pres­i­dent.

“I have been in­volved in ball for 65 years and I have loved ev­ery minute of it,” he said, now 75. He adds that now he is in the po­si­tion where he is coach­ing the chil­dren and grand­chil­dren of for­mer team­mates.

The beauty of the game for Lowry is that the rules have hardly changed in 100 years. The skills he has ac­quired still ap­ply to the next gen­er­a­tion of ball play­ers.

The ba­sics are hit, run, catch, throw,” he said. “With kids if I can make them a three-tool player I am happy.”

“This is the only game, if you are bat­ting, that you can fail 70 per cent of the time and be a star,” he laughs.

The lessons he teaches on the field go be­yond the di­a­mond.

“What I try to in­still in the kids is re­spect, sports­man­ship at­ti­tude and team­work,” he said. “I don’t need the best play­ers, I just need the best peo­ple.”

He adds that as he coaches the kids, he is also teach­ing the game to the par­ents vol­un­teers so they can coach. He is grate­ful that they are also pick­ing up the love of the game.

What he val­ues the most of over his play­ing ca­reer are the friends he made.

“I still golf with four guys played ball with in Ed­son in the 1960’s. One is in Van­cou­ver, one is in Mex­ico and one is in Dray­ton Val­ley, and we try to get to­gether when we can. You of­ten don’t have the same friends for 50 years.”

What I try to in­still in the kids is re­spect, sports­man­ship at­ti­tude and team­work. I don’t need the best play­ers, I just need the best peo­ple.”

At 75, John Lowry is pass­ing on his ex­ten­sive knowl­edge of base­ball to an­other gen­er­a­tion

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