league, big heart
to be honored at Oldham County Day
enthusiast is a hit with players
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. (July 2009) To say Brad Clifford
is an extremely devoted Little League Baseball coach is an understatement.
As if this didnt keep him busy enough every week, he can often
be found flipping burgers, mowing baseball fields, raking the dirt on
the mound, and generally lending a helping hand whenever games are played
for the North Oldham Little League.
Clifford, 44, has held the title of Little League Coach since he was
20 years old. I love baseball, he said.
And there are many in the community that love Coach Clifford. He was
chosen to be the Grand Marshal of this years Oldham County Day
Parade on July 18.
The parade them is A League of Our Own, and was decided
upon after Clifford was chosen to be Grand Marshal, said Ann Brown of
the La Grange Project Guild. The organization puts on Oldham County
Day every year. Clifford was primarily chosen for his work with
the North Oldham Little League, said Brown.
Clifford was nominated last year by several people, but did not have
quite enough votes to be declared Grand Marshal. In his honor, a Grand
Marshal Luncheon will be held at noon on July 14 at the John Black Community
Center in Buckner.
Oldham County has two Little Leagues, and Clifford is a coach for the
North Oldham Little League. The league holds their games at the 12-acre
Walsh Park in La Grange and is run by a 10-member board of directors.
Field No. 1 at Walsh Park has been designated as the Brad Clifford Field.
Baseball is it for me, said Clifford, a Notre Dame University
fan. This is where I hang out. Clifford can be found on
the fields long after the last game has been played for the night.
by Helen McKinney
Clifford does whatever it takes to
keep the fun going at the ballpark.
He began coaching in 1986. During his coaching career,
Clifford spent three years as a Babe Ruth Coach and the rest of his
time as a Little League coach. When he was young enough to play Little
League, his mother, Patricia Upton, was the league secretary.
In addition to serving as the current president and a past board member
of the North Oldham Little League, Clifford recently became the District
Administrator of the North Oldham Little League. He said 800 kids play
ball every spring in the league, and 350 kids play ball every fall.
The North Oldham Little League is comprised of teams ranging in ages
from 5-12 who play Tee Ball, Coach Pitch, Rookie, Minor and Major League.
Girls softball teams play in the league also and range in age
up to 16 years old.
As current president of the North Oldham Little League, Clifford is
the first one there and the last one to leave, said Brent
Hackworth, who has coached for the league for the last five years. Hackworths
two sons have been coached by Clifford.
Clifford makes sure money is present to support the needs of the league
and cover the costs of improvements while staying within our budget,
Hackworth, who is vice president of baseball for the league, continued.
He lives every day for the kids, arriving at 8 or 9 a.m.
on his days off, said Hackworth. Hes always helping others,
thats his main focus.
As a coach, Clifford has a lot of knowledge about baseball and
a baseball mind. Hes a wonderful manager of our facility and wonderful
with the kids, said Hackworth.
Hackworth said Clifford is dedicated to coaching. He chalks the fields,
rakes the dirt, mows, organizes uniforms, purchases everything needed
at the park, cooks burgers and hot dogs, and will even clean the restrooms
to make sure every single aspect of the park is looked after. The amazing
thing about him is that he knows almost every single kid by name,
Clifford also organizes the draft after sign-ups, creates all the schedules
for the entire league and keeps the website current. He easily spends
50 to 60 hours a week at Walsh Park when baseball season is in full-swing.
Although the park seeks more of him than I do, I try my best to
support him, said Cliffords wife, Sheri. The couple have
two children, and Sheri said her husband lives, breathes and eats
Sheri said Clifford has been disabled since 2000 and believes part of
his dedication to the league comes from the fact that everyone
in that situation needs an outlet.
Clifford is a very private, humble person who will never take the credit
for anything, even though he makes it happen, Sheri said. The
league is so fortunate to have him.
He teaches kids not only the fundamentals of baseball, but helps
them learn the fundamentals of life, Hackworth said. If
kids win a game, he tells them to enjoy it; if kids lose a game, he
tells them to enjoy that also, because its a learning experience.
One highlight of Cliffords coaching career was in 1992 when he
won both the Major and Minor Divisions in the same year. Clifford believes
in giving everything to help his team win at what he believes
is the best baseball facility. He strives to give his team the
best opportunity to play ball at the best possible place, he said.
He has been a staple in the county and the community since he originally
began playing for the North Oldham Little League in 1973, said Hackworth.
Hackworth will speak about Clifford at the Grand Marshall Luncheon.
Oldham County Jailor Mike Simpson has known Clifford for 25 years. Having
met through the Little League system, hes been vice president
of the league under Clifford, on the board of directors, has coached
with and against him, and had one of his sons coached by Clifford.
He truly enjoys every aspect of coaching young kids, said
Simpson. Its pure enjoyment for him and exciting to be a
part of the team. Kids learn about more than just the game of baseball.
Kids he has coached have learned commitment and dedication on top of
learning how to play, said Simpson. Clifford is a good-hearted person
who cares and disciplines the kids so they will remember what they are
Clifford has relied on the Inmate Work Program quite a bit, using inmates
to help with field maintenance, to build dugouts and paint. As President
of the league, Clifford is one of the first persons to step up and get
things done, Simpson said.
Hes a true friend, said fellow league coach Chris
Wilson. Wilson met Clifford when he and his wife and four children moved
to Oldham County four years ago.
The way he does things is simple, said Wilson. He
wants kids to have fun. If a kid struggles, Clifford tells the kid hes
putting too much pressure on himself. Ive never heard him say
its all about winning; its more about the game and having
Ask anyone and theyll tell you that Coach Clifford is always at
the ball park. If it rains, hes at the fields at 5 or 6 a.m. getting
them ready for a 10 a.m. game, said Wilson. He loves people and
kids that much to donate his time to them.
Being chosen as this years Oldham County Day Parade Grand Marshall
is an honor absolutely way over due for Clifford, said Simpson.
To purchase tickets for the Grand Marshal
Luncheon, contact Ann Brown at (502) 222-0023.
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