For over three decades Denny Barton gave everything he had to the Urbandale High School baseball program.
Some current and former players from his teams are now giving back to him.
Some of Barton’s former players and members of his J-Hawk team rallied together to raise money to send the recently-retired skipper on a farewell trip to New York.
“I am as humbled as I’ve ever been,” Barton said.
The 63-year-old Barton has become a staple in Urbandale sports, racking up 776 wins in 32 seasons all with the school including state titles in 2000 and 2007. Barton is so well regarded that the school’s baseball field was named after him in 2004.
His retirement announcement in May allowed current and former players to band together to raise money to honor Barton with a trip to New York. The project, spearheaded by assistant coach Mike Cook, generated enough money to pay for Barton and his wife, Pam, to fly out to New York for five days and attend two Yankee games.
Barton, who had always wanted to attend Yankee Stadium, will finally get a chance in September. The trip will be even more special as he gets the opportunity to honor his dad, who Barton said sailed out of New York in World War II.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to get there and honor him as a father and as a veteran and I’m finally going to get there,” Barton said.
Barton, who has helped out with the Des Moines Area Community College baseball team, hoped to again this season. But, his time leading a team is done.
“I need to be around baseball,” he said. “I think I have a lot to offer. But, I don’t want to make out lineups.”
AROUND THE HORN
• Iowa Cubs infielder Christian Villanueva was named Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for July 13-19. Villanueva hit .533 (8-for-15) with three homers, two doubles, nine RBI and four runs scored for Iowa coming out of the All-Star break. Villanueva was also named PCL Player of the Week for June 1-7. He is the first Iowa player to earn multiple weekly honors in the same season since Jake Fox in 2009.
• Iowa native Colin Rea picked up his first triple-A win earlier this month while outpitching a big name. Rea, a former pitcher at Cascade, allowed just one earned run in 52/3 innings of work for the El Paso Chihuahuas to beat the Fresno Grizzlies 7-1 in a doubleheader on July 19. Rea outpitched Fresno starter Mark Appel, the first overall pick in the 2013 draft.
• Tony Watson reached a big milestone this month. The former Dallas Center-Grimes pitcher and current Pittsburgh Pirates reliever made his 300th career relief appearance on July 20. Watson, a lefty, tossed a scoreless eighth inning in the milestone appearance. It’s the ninth-highest total in Pirates history. “It’s very humbling,” Watson told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I never expected to do this. I’m going to keep going as long as I can. Hopefully, I can get 700 more and reach 1,000. That’ll be my milestone, something to hang my hat on.”
• Enjoy baseball and music with the Clinton LumberKings on Aug. 1. The LumberKings will host a postgame concert with The Stockwells that night. First pitch is 6:30 p.m.
• Drink up. The Quad Cities River Bandits will hand pint glasses to the first 1,000 fans at their Aug. 1 game. First pitch is 6 p.m.
• The best pitching performance in the state this year may be by a high school. Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto pitcher Korey Kuhlman struck out 21 hitters in eight scoreless relief innings during a substate semifinal win earlier this month. Kuhlman will play at Iowa Western.
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