A Field Of Dreams
West Lauderdale baseball facility rededicated in honor of veteran coach Jerry Boatner
By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
April 7, 2004
COLLINSVILLE When Jerry Boatner arrived at West Lauderdale more than three decades ago, the Knights' baseball field was little more than a barren pasture lying before a backstop made of logs and chicken wire.
As of Tuesday, it bears his name.
In a ceremony prior to West Lauderdale's 11-0 win against Southeast Lauderdale, the field was rededicated as Jerry Boatner Field in homage to the second-winningest coach in Mississippi prep baseball history.
Boatner was named head coach of the Knights in 1974 and has compiled one of the most impressive coaching resumes in prep baseball history. West Lauderdale's shutout win over Southeast Lauderdale on Tuesday was the 820th victory of Boatner's career second-most in Mississippi history and eight-most in the nation. Under his direction, the Knights have won 10 state championships and 22 division titles.
Boatner has also coached the school's softball team to more than 500 wins since taking over the program in 1990.
A plaque commemorating field rededication was presented in front of home plate to Boatner, who had more than a dozen members of his extended family on hand. As he addressed West Lauderdale fans with his family standing behind him at the pitcher's mound, Boatner became obviously moved.
Jerry Boatner Field stands as more than just an honor to its greatest coach, but for years has literally been Boatner's second home. The field's press box contains an office, dozens of trophies and plaques, and a clue as to just how much time Boatner has spent at the field a bed.
And Boatner assured fans he would continue working on it for years to come. He said after the game that he may retire from teaching soon, but he plans to remain coaching as long as possible.