(Editors Note: This is one in a series of stories Courier sports writer Scott Jackson is writing about each of the seven initial inductees into the Indian Hills Community College Athletic Hall of Fame.)
(The stories will run each day leading up to the induction ceremonies to be held on Saturday, Feb. 4.)
Does this story sound familiar?
A man builds a baseball diamond on Iowa farmland hoping that, if he builds it, people will come.
Sure, a great movie was based on this story. Pat Daugherty wasn’t trying to create movie magic when he and his Centerville Junior College baseball team built their field on land borrowed from Union Carbide in 1966.
Daugherty was inspired to make a dream, or at least a vision, of a great Falcons’ baseball program come true. Sometimes, it seemed Daugherty might have to do it single-handidly.
“We got the materials and built the field ourselves,” Daugherty said. “I dug the field with my own car and when we got the school tractor, I’d mow the field myself.
“It was a one-man job. You spend a lot of hours, a lot of enjoyable hours, and do a lot of work.”
It’s fitting that Daugherty would go to such lengths to build a baseball field. After all, the same philosophy applies to building the Indian Hills baseball program.
“We did it all as team,” Daugherty said. “We started from almost nothing and gradually, we built it up.”
What the Indian Hills baseball program has built up to is one of national prominence. The Falcons are a community treasure on the Centerville campus complete with 11 trips to the JUCO World Series, 14 major leaguers and over 200 MLB draft picks.
An illustrious program with a rich tradition made possible through the dedication of a self-professed “baseball lifer.” It is fitting that Daugherty will be the first inductee into the Indian Hills Athletic Hall of Fame to go in based solely for coaching a program.
Daugherty did more then just coach the IHCC baseball program - he made sure it had a life.
“You look back and you wonder sometimes how you overcame some of the obstacles we had in front of us,” Daugherty said. “That was a great challenge for me. That was an interesting time.
Daugherty was a young coach who had just recently earned his master’s degree from Drake when he came to then-Centerville Junior College in 1965. Daugherty, who had just a few years of head coaching experience on the high school level, would become the Falcons’ third coach in it’s fourth year of existence.
Today, IHCC baseball travels around the country and plays upwards of 50 games per season and has 34 players on the roster. Things were just a little bit different when Daugherty took over the young program.
“We only had a 12-game schedule when I got there,” Daugherty said. “We didn’t play doubleheaders. We only had 13 uniforms. We maybe carried 20 kids.
“When I first got there, I couldn’t recruit. I had to field a team with guys off our football and basketball teams,” Daugherty added.
Daugherty credits then Dean of Students Lyle Hellyer for helping plant the seeds of success. Hellyer allowed Daugherty to increase the schedule to 30 games, including allowing the team to take a spring trip to test their abilities against great competition.
Those were things IHCC could do instantly to become a better program. The Falcons still had to overcome a lack of facilities as a program in the northern United States rallied on a love for the game to get better fundamentally.
“We ran drills in the gym we had here, and when the snow was gone, we’d go outside and practice in the parking lot,” Daugherty said. “I always looked at junior college baseball because I got to see kids that were baseball-hungry.
“Cold weather, whatever the conditions, our guys wanted to play baseball and I wanted to coach it. It all kind of meshed.”
With the infusion of enthusiasm and resources, Centerville Junior College, Centerville Community College and Indian Hills became the state’s best junior college team under Daugherty. After being bested in the four-state district round by teams from Illinois and Michigan, Daugherty’s Falcons broke through to their first JUCO World Series in 1973.
“It was a great, great thrill,” Daugherty said. “We won a game, lost two, but the ability to get there was a great thrill.”
Daugherty would eventually lead IHCC to a second JUCO World Series appearance in 1981 and recorded a 640-245 record over 18 seasons. While building a young junior college program, Daugherty also spent his summers in his second job managing the Montreal Expos’ Gulf Coast rookie league and the Jamestown Expos of the New York-Penn League.
During that time, Daugherty managed future hall-of-famer players coming up through the Expos’ system, including Andre Dawson and Gary Carter. Today, Daugherty is the special assistant to the general manager of the Colorado Rockies.
In his time scouting for the Rockies, Daugherty spotted future all-stars including Todd Helton and Matt Holiday, who helped lead Colorado to its first-ever National League pennant and World Series appearance. For all those great accolades in helping discover great Major League talent, being able to develop skills with young players has always been Daugherty’s passion.
“That’s pretty much been my life,” Daugherty said. “I probably took a lot more away from the program then I gave to it. I really appreciated the opportunity. Those early days at Indian Hills were some of the happiest I can remember.”
Daugherty’s legacy continues to be a major part of the Indian Hills baseball team. The Falcons play on “Pat Daugherty Field,” they’ve been coached since 1986 by Rick Mathews (1986-1992) and Cam Walker (1993-2011), two men who both played for Daugherty at IHCC.
“Those two guys played here and know the program’s history,” Daugherty said. “They put up with all my yelling and screaming. I couldn’t be prouder of those two guys. They’re great people to run that program.”
2012 IHCC Athletic Hall of Fame Class Members
Baseball Coach (1965-82)
Tara (McClure) Isable
Football Coach (1971-73)
Athletic Director (1988-93)