Ozzie Pick left his mark on local baseball

Greg Ceilley  Review Sports Editor

Arnold “Ozzie” Pick was one of those rare individuals who had a very positive impact on his community and took great pride in whatever he did.

Ozzie, who passed away July 14 at the age of 87, had a heart of gold and a big part of that which shone brightly was his love for the game of baseball. He touched countless lives through his many years of coaching and playing baseball, and maintaining Carl Loebe Field and Pick Field.

His pride and joy was taking care of baseball fields. Pick Field, completed in 1993, was named in his honor because he was the driving force behind getting the youth baseball ballpark built. Seeing Ozzie meticulously work on the ball fields to prepare them for the upcoming season was like a rite of spring each year.

“Ozzie loved baseball and everything it stood for. He put his heart into playing, teaching and talking it,” said Butch Cain, Plymouth High School head baseball coach, who played for Ozzie when he managed the Plymouth Flames Land O’ Lakes League team in the 1980s and early ‘90s.

“Later on, we saw his passion develop for grooming and maintaining diamonds in Plymouth as he learned how to care for the facilities and help make our fields some of the best in the state. His precision and attention to detail was like that of a master gardener.”

Ozzie was the head groundskeeper for Loebe Field, home of the Flames, and local youth baseball fields for about 60 years combined.

“His dedication to our baseball programs and our facilities will be sadly missed. I will remember our many conversations and the time we spent between the lines as some of the best days of summer,” Cain said.

Rick Meyer, who played for the Flames under Ozzie from 1984-1992, shared some fond memories of him.

“Ozzie was an integral part of the formation of the Flames in the early years [1983-85],” Meyer said.

“The Flames, originally called the Plymouth Merchants, were founded in 1983 by Jim Meerstein. However, it was quickly apparent that Jim needed help with the organizational side of the club. That is where Ozzie stepped in and provided much of the stability in those early years as club president.

“It was well-known throughout the league that

Plymouth had the best diamond, primarily due to Ozzie’s efforts. He was also very strong in fund-raising for us and worked tirelessly getting advertisements to finance the club operations,” Meyer recalled.

“I have fond memories of Ozzie coaching from third base and encouraging me to get a line-drive base hit. ‘Hang some wash on one – a whole bushel basket,’” he’d say.

Ozzie was one of the most caring, humble persons I’ve ever known, and a dear friend of mine. One of his greatest attributes was his commitment to the community, whether it was though local service clubs or a desire to provide quality playing facilities for young ballplayers.

“I know the youths enjoy that [playing on a nice field]. It brings out their enthusiasm, and that’s the way the game should be played,” said Ozzie after being inducted into the Plymouth Youth Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame in 1999.

“I just enjoy seeing good facilities. It’s just as easy to maintain and keep it up as to neglect it and let it go.”

I visited Ozzie in the spring and of course we talked about baseball which was always a pleasure with him. One of his fondest memories, which he recounted often with me, was when we watched Nolan Ryan record his 300th career win in person on July 31, 1990 against the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium as a member of the Texas Rangers. He recalled that special moment again during our visit.

Ozzie always stressed fundamentals in baseball, and we discussed that subject during my visit with him. The following quote from him sums up his thoughts on playing baseball the proper way:

“You learn to play and the style will come.”

“Hopefully, we will see more lifelong baseball ambassadors as we have witnessed here in Plymouth with Arnold “Ozzie” Pick,” said Cain.

Ozzie will always be remembered as a wonderful person and supporter of baseball and the community.

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