In 1981, a man named Ed Waters began coaching local youth on a Markle Farm League baseball team. And since then, Waters has impacted generations of children on the baseball field.
After spending four years at the Markle Farm League, Waters was approached by the director, who informed him that, due to a board decision, nobody from Huntington would be allowed to coach or play in their league. So, Waters looked elsewhere. And that began a decades-long relationship with the Huntington Police Athletic League (PAL) Club.
In a Letter to the Editor that Waters wrote in July, he said, “So, I contacted the PAL Club in Huntington and told them I was looking for a coaching job, and that I had almost a whole team that the Markle Farm League didn’t want because we were from Huntington... they welcomed all of us and that started me on a 36-year career at the PAL Club.”
Now, 40 years after he initially began coaching baseball, Waters is hanging up his hat and passing the torch on to the younger generation.
Waters has done almost everything a person can do to stay involved in the PAL Club - from coaching and umpiring to doing ground work, acting as league director, keeping up on statistics and assisting the club president. On Thursday, Sept. 2, two more long-time PAL Club members honored Waters with a plaque to commemorate his retirement.
Tom Hughes and Mark Hughes, a father and son duo, have also been involved in the PAL Club baseball program for many years. Mark recalled his time as a baseball player at the PAL, while his dad was coaching, and was “shocked” to see Waters still involved when Mark became PAL President.
“That first year he helped out a little bit, and each year it grew on what he helped with because he was just so dependable,” Mark said. “He had been here so long, he knew how everything worked, he knew what did work and what didn’t work (for the program). We changed a few things and he rolled with it, and we changed a few other things and he said ‘this isn’t really working so well,’ so we changed it again.”
Mark said that Waters is “an intricate part of the baseball program” and that “we definitely wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.”
In 27 years of coaching, Waters counts 200 kids that he has personally coached. He recalled his time on the field as a coach and how he treated his players.
“I got to know a lot of families and I had a good bunch of kids,” Waters said. “If I had kids that didn’t do what I wanted them to do…I would take (them) off to the side and have one of the other coaches with me, and I would try to just talk to them, make them feel like they weren’t just a wild pack of dogs. That they were just as important as me.”
Mark has seen the impact that Waters has had on the program almost every night that Waters comes out to the ball diamonds.
“When games are going on out here and Ed is here and I’m here, you’ll have people walk by and they’ll know Ed right off the bat,” Mark said. “And Ed will say ‘I used to coach them back in the day’ but it never fails, almost every single night, somebody that he used to coach would come up and talk to him.
Waters admits that it will be hard for him to not be involved with the PAL Club after all these years.
“After being at the ball park for 40 years, I can tell you it’ll be hard sitting at home when I know the ball games are going on out here,” Waters said. “I won’t miss the pressure from what I was doing, but I loved what I was doing.”
There is one thing, in all of his years of experience, that Ed never managed to do - get thrown out of a game.
“I came close once! I walked out to ask the umpire a question and he said, ‘you get back or you’re going to be removed,” Waters shared. “And I said, ‘wait a minute here, I was just wanting to ask you a question!’”
This will also be the last year that Mark and Tom will be involved with the baseball program. Mark said that the fact that all three are going out at once “makes it special.”