By all accounts, this was Rich Young’s favorite time of year.
Young, the District 39 District administrator for the past eight years, died June 30 after a sudden heart attack the day before.
The sentiment I found in Young’s favor was astounding.
I never met Young, but since his death at 62 years old, the loss has reverberated through D39, from the San Lorenzo Valley all the way to San Louis Obispo.
“He was a true inspiration, not only in his dedication to Little League and the spirit of baseball, but mostly because of his dedication to the children,” SLV Little League president Christina Wise said.
Young was from Capitola and coached in the Santa Cruz Little League for many years. He was involved in Little League for more than 40 years.
However, eight years ago, Young took the job of district administrator and jumped in full-bore.
Young was known to race between tournament games at Siltanen Park in Scotts Valley to watch the end of another game in Aptos.
“He was just so excited about everything,” said Rick Stubblefield, Young’s longtime friend and a D39 official.
Disputes would be laid before him, and no matter what his ruling was, it was always in the best interest of the youngsters on the ball field.
“Rich was an extremely kind-hearted man,” said Mike Saso, District 39 umpire-in-chief. “He said this constantly: ‘I am here for the kids.’”
Young traveled to national and regional Little League meetings each year — often paying expenses from his own pocket and spending hours upon hours organizing Little League in the county. Whenever a need arose, Young was there.
“Rich had that effect on people, to step up in times of need and get through it,” Stubblefield said. “He went over and above the call of duty, without a doubt.”
By all accounts, Young will be missed, and it will be impossible to replace his dedication to Little League in the area.
“We just all loved the guy so much,” Stubblefield said. “Not just as a father and grandfather, but as a coach and a mentor.”
During a public memorial service Sunday, July 12, Field 1 at Harvey West Park was renamed Rich Young Memorial Field in Young’s honor.
The D39 championship games were relocated to Harvey West Park, where they were played before and after the memorial.
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