Dwight Youth Baseball League Field 1 was named for him in a surprise ceremony that featured his family and high school chums. Enger has been active in Dwight youth baseball and softball for decades, known as “Mr. Baseball.”
His wife June secretly contacted his family and friends where he grew up, in Morris, who attended the ceremony.
Enger turned age 72 on April 19 so this was a surprise birthday present for him, he said.
“I had no idea,” Enger told The Paper last week that the honor was coming. “My sisters from Iowa and four classmates from Morris came. I’m hardly ever without words.” That day was an exception, Enger said.
Although he said he did joke that “I thought you had to be dead” to have a field named after you.
The ceremony honoring Enger was supposed to be part of the annual parade and gathering at the start of the season where all teams are introduced, but the parade was cancelled due to inclement weather.
The field name, however, went on as scheduled.
“We truly had a great time,” he added.
Jim Enger field is the farthest west field by Garrett Park.
All boys but the Pony League play there. Pony games are played at Renfrew Park.
He first became involved when his son Jason was in Little League in 1980, so he has had a long history with the Dwight league.
Jim was president of the baseball league in the late 1990s.
He has been staying around the league ever since.
He umpired for many years, announced games. He never coached, however.
Lately he has been scheduling umpires for the league, and still occasionally works as an ump. However, his eyesight is failing, so he has shied away from umpire duties.
“They just can’t get rid of me,” he said.
He was at one time also involved with softball, although he never had any daughters.
“I was the token male,” he said.
The league is for t-ballers ages five to six.
Pintos are ages seven and eight. Mustangs are nine and 10; Broncos are 11 to 12; and Pony league members are ages 13 and 14.
Girls are 12 and under.
“I think the Pony League is the best,” he said. “It is one of funnest.”
He said by Pony League, the kids are actually playing baseball, having had some junior high experience by then and several years in Little League.
“You can recognize baseball,” at the Pony League level, he added.
The league is very well supported with full boards and parents who attend games and participate in the league. But it was not always that way, he said.
“Years ago, we were more like running a babysitting service,” Enger explained. “The parents would come and drop off their kids.”
He said now there is good participation by parents and community members, including merchants who support the league.
“We took in $21,000 in the raffle this year,” he said.
“The board is very dynamic,” he continued. I don’t do anything.”
He believes the Dwight League is one of the best around, blessed with good players and “extraordinary umpires.”
Jim and June moved to Dwight from Morris in 1975. their son Jason graduated from Dwight Township High School in 1988.
Son Jason is now the father of a boy and girl, one in high school and one in college.
Enger said he stayed in Dwight because of the community, and because it was a close drive back to his hometown of Morris.
“It’s just a great place to live,” Enger said. “I feel like I know almost everyone in town.”
Besides the field named after Enger, there is a tournament started in 1984. Five years ago it was named after him, now known as the Jim Enger Tournament. It features more than 300 kids of the Pinto, Mustang and Bronco leagues.
“That was very humbling,” he said.