75 and still giving back to baseball
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