Celebrating Our Members
We are forever grateful to the members past and present who have stepped up to build the “BAJA family.” Each year the BAJA Board of Directors selects one person to honor and thank who has exemplified exceptional effort on behalf of our BAJA organization. The name of the person selected is engraved on the Founder’s Award plaque and is ceremoniously presented at the annual General Membership meeting. The recipient keeps the plaque to display in their home until the next year.
BAJA FOUNDER’S AWARD
KELLY, J. FAWCETT, I. ALLISON, J. CARR, C. CATINO, M. GREEN
Awarded in Recognition of Outstanding Service to the Community and to the
Each November, prior Service Award winners meet to select one club member who has demonstrated ‘above and beyond’ efforts to help spread the good name of BAJA both within the club and the community. The recipient receives this award for their prior year’s accomplishments. A beautiful red custom baseball shirt is ceremoniously presented at the annual Welcome Back Party. (Originally, 3 members were chosen each year by the Board of Directors.)
2012, Chuck Catino, Dave Hyslop, Jeanie McEldowney
2013, Gary Anderson, Lou Meier, Lu Smith
2014, Craig Burgess, Andy Lynch, Pam Welsch
2015, Dorie Carroll, Bob Epstein, Greg Pettet
2016, Susan Lynch
2017, Wally Towne
2018, Jim Brewer
2019, Donna Harrison
Beginning in 2013, BAJA began installing memorial benches at the Catino Softball Complex. Each deceased BAJA member is remembered with a nameplate plaque mounted on one of these benches. When you are at the complex, take a moment to ponder your memories of these "BAJA family" members.
Contact: Dave Erickson, email@example.com
Naming Our Softball Leagues and Fields
Our BAJA softball fields have been named after exceptional members who were instrumental in advancing BAJA softball. We also named our Winter Softball Leagues after these amazing men. When the fields were built in 2013 at the Canoa Preserve Park, our club decided to split into two leagues, a more competitive league and a recreation league. In tribute to Ivan Allison’s passion for promoting organized softball for seniors, BAJA named the more competitive league the Ivan Allison League. The other league originally the Recreation League was renamed the Chuck Catino League after he passed away in 2014. In 2018, Jim Hill organized a unique new league called the Spirit League. The league was renamed the Jim Hill Spirit League after his passing in 2019. Below is a snapshot of these men.
Ivan Allison, from Michigan, purchased a home in Green Valley in 1996. The “azsoftballer” was passionately involved in developing softball in Southern AZ., before BAJA Sporting Club was formed. He was an organizer and relentless recruiter, getting people to come play softball, even if a person said they didn’t play softball.
He was instrumental in BAJA becoming an organization and helped write the bylaws and fundraise. If something had to be done, Ivan didn’t even wait until the next morning. Ron Kopf and Ivan bought BAJA’s first tractor to maintain the fields at Sahuarita Park, $700.
In 2003, Ivan revived the Tucson Showdown senior invitational tournament for men and women, and organized enough BAJA players to put a team into the tournament — https://seniorsoftball.com.
Ivan organized a 65-year old team of BAJA players to travel to tournaments in Phoenix, Las Cruces, and Yuma and more. When Ivan passed away, the family requested that donations be made to The Parklands Foundation, BAJA Project #137, in memory of Ivan Allison. Born September 11, 1927, died July 31, 2011.
Originally from Illinois, Chuck came to Green Valley in 1996 and got involved with softball. He called everyone “babe.” When staff in the Pima County offices saw him coming, they wanted to hide because they knew he wouldn’t leave without accomplishing the task he had come for.
His mission: Since BAJA had lost use of the Sahuarita Park fields in the summer of 2012 to Walden Grove High School, Chuck was determined to get BAJA our own softball fields in time for the 2013 Winter League that started the first week of January. Chuck was instrumental in securing the Canoa Preserve land to build a park and two softball fields. What Chuck loved most outside of his family is what is lovingly referred to as “The Fields of Dreams,” the Canoa Preserve Park.
For BAJA members, it was hard to imagine that Chuck Catino could create two softball fields out of a rugged gravel pit filled with trees and debris in a matter of months. With incredible drive and determination, he persuaded Caterpillar to train drivers to clear the land (a $900,000 in-kind donation). Over the next 2 months, that gravel pit of rubble turned into the most amazing state of the art softball fields. Standing on a fine red gravel infield surrounded by a lush green outfield, everyone was astonished and emotional on opening day when Chuck threw out the first pitch. Chuck’s “Field of Dreams” came true. Born December 24, 1935, Died October 27, 2014.
Jim Hill played ball with BAJA for many years. It was his life in his retired years. Many years, he was a team manager besides being a player. He began the fun practice of getting donated prizes to give away at our BAJA social events. Jim always had a smile on his face and offered helpful advice to those struggling with their batting or fielding. Jim loved BAJA and BAJA love Jim. In 2018, Jim created a relaxed and unique 6-person team rotation style of play and garnered three teams to play in what he called the Spirit League. A third of the players bat twice; a third play left field; a third play right field, rotate. It was a great success. Jim passed away in 2019. The Board of Directors voted to rename this league the Jim Hill Spirit League. The Hill Family recognized how much BAJA was like a family to their father and how much BAJA softball meant to him. They donated a substantial amount from his estate so that BAJA could move forward on its dream of building a third softball field, which the Board of Directors will name the Jim Hill Field.
Please enjoy Wally Towne's short video tributes to BAJA Members who have passed away.