A legend is remembered

The Copper Country Twilight League has had many men who played a key role in its formation.

Names like Wes Kangas, Merv Klemett and Paul Hill were all there at the beginning in the mid-1950s when the league became a reality.

They were quickly followed by guys like Leo Durocher, Rick Miller and Tom Borsum, just to name a few.

These were the people who did most of the groundwork to get – and keep – the league going since.

That included rounding up enough players, doing the vital field work to keep the diamonds in good shape and reporting the games to the media.

Of all those, I believe Leo Durocher of Stanton might have had the biggest impact.

Durocher was a terrific baseball player. He averaged better than .400 in his long career and could hit with power from the left side of the plate.

I had the privilege to play against him a few times. My enduring memory of those games was trying to avoid the wicked line drives he often sent down the first base line.

But he also pitched a good part of the time and was the shortstop for the Wildcats when he wasn’t on the mound.

You could see he had a true love for the game. To many people, he was the face of the Twilight League.

He was among the first local managers to bring teams to the Labor Day tournament in Felch, a tourney that brought in some high caliber talent.

Heck, former Detroit Tigers’ pitchers John Hiller and Mark “The Bird” Fidrych even pitched in the tourney several times. But that’s a story for another day.

The Leo Durocher Memorial Tournament will be played at the new Stanton Field this coming weekend.

Started by Leo’s son, Daron, a few years back, it has turned into an enjoyable weekend for fans.

With the aid of a grant, several improvements have been made at the field in the past year.

That included thinning out the trees around the field. The backdrop of those trees made for a great hitting background for decades and Daron, who has taken over the duties of league organizer, said he had some reservations about seeing those trees removed.

“I’m happy to see the field improvements,” he said recently. “But I have to admit I had a few regrets … There were a lot of memories at the old field.”

I’m sure one of the main memories was watching his father belt homers into the trees in right field.