I’m sure that Bob Hooper is looking down today with a big smile on his face.
The third edition of the Hooper Summer Showcase Baseball Tournament begins today at Grant Complex and continues through Sunday. This is going to be by the far the best of the tournaments, as MHS baseball coach Heath Gerstner has infused his ever-present enthusiasm into the event and expanded it greatly.
A record 16 teams are taking part, split into four pools. All the teams are guaranteed four games — three pool games and then a bracket game. How many games a team plays depends on how long it stays alive in the single-elimination bracket on Sunday.
McPherson plays its first game at 8:00 tonight, then two games on Saturday at 3:00 and 7:00, respectively.
Some of McPherson’s chief rivals are playing, including the Salina Falcons and Buhler Nationals. There will be some quality players in the event who will be continuing their careers at the collegiate level, so fans are urged to attend and make this tournament a success.
It’s hard to believe Hoop has been gone four years as he died in June of 2011. I covered a lot of games in my 32 years of knowing Bob, both baseball and basketball, as we traveled thousands and thousands of miles of highway in following his beloved Bullpups.
Bob kept the scorebook for the MHS and American Legion baseball teams, and charted turnovers and rebounds for the basketball broadcasts. Nobody got more excited for the McPherson Invitational, Mid America Classic and State Tournaments than Bob. For his loyalty and support for MHS athletics, Hoop was deservedly inducted into the MHS Wall of Fame as a contributor.
But baseball was his first sports love. He was a student of the game and was a loyal follower of the Cleveland Indians. He got excited when Cleveland had its run of great teams in the 1990s, but they couldn’t break through and win the World Series. In fact, Cleveland last won a World Series when Bob was 12 years old.
I’m sure he’d be honored that his name has been affixed to a tournament of this magnitude. If alive, I’m sure he would have been in the press box keeping his flawless scorebook and beaming that such quality baseball was being played here. Bob so wanted for McPherson High to win a state baseball championship in his lifetime, but he did at least see the numerous basketball championships the Bullpups won.
Bob also enjoyed announcing for us on the radio. There was the “Hooper inning,” where former Bullpup broadcaster Nick Gosnell allowed Bob to take over the play-by-play. He so looked forward to doing that every game and got excited if the Bullpups or Legion would have a big inning when he was on the mic.
I hope people take the time to remember Bob this weekend. His loyalty to MHS baseball and athletics in general was unmatched.
Most of all, I miss him as a friend.