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Dec, 2018

Barbara Baker receives Joe E. Brown Fellowship Award

For over 30 years, Barbara Baker, along with her husband Curtis, has lived at the ball fields in both Joshua and Burleson, Texas. Even before the day she first “received her shirt” from Al Obregon to run a Mustang Tournament in 1989 and was thus initiated into the PONY family, Barbara has dedicated her life to serving the youth, both in her local community and throughout PONY’s South Zone as a PONY Field Director and now the Northwest Region’s Shetland and Pinto Director.

“I love kids. I really do,” said Baker. “I can’t think of a better way to help. If I could do one small piece, then I feel like I’ve done what I was put here on earth to do.”

In recognition and dedication to, and support of PONY Baseball and Softball, and the ideal of development of youth through the medium of organized athletics, Baker was awarded the Joe E. Brown Fellowship Award earlier this month at PONY’s annual South Zone Meeting. The award is named in memory of PONY’s first President Joe E. Brown, who, thanks to his influence as a famous comedian and actor, spent many years, during PONY’s infancy, growing the program across the country and world.

“I’m just very appreciative,” said Baker. “It was just one of those awards that I never thought I’d be able to get, for whatever reason. It was an absolutely pleasant surprise. I love the people that I work with. I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie.”

A mother to five children (Troy, Kaitlyn, Bubba, MaKayla and the late Curtis Eugene), Barbara and Curtis found every which way to get involved with Joshua Baseball Association as their kids were growing up. Whether it was Curtis coaching and serving as the league equipment manager or Barbara coaching and managing the league’s concession stand, they wanted to do what they could to positively impact the lives of the kids, even if that meant shouting “two hands” one too many times from the bleachers.

She’ll always recall the time that Troy tweaked his knee while pitching in the semifinal game of a tournament and didn’t tell anyone because he knew the team needed to save its best pitcher for the championship game. Barbara acknowledges that’s what was so inspirational to her – the fact that Troy, a child, put the team at the forefront, and even though his knee had already started to swell up, he pushed through the pain for his teammates and his dad.

“It’s exciting – the love the game,” said Baker. “You don’t have to be an absolute all-star. You can just be a regular kid and do your part, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. I know there are some exceptional players out there, and you know who they are, but, I guess, I’ve always been for the underdog, the ones who are consistent, the ones who try and give 110-percent, no matter what. That’s what I like.”

Troy and his teammates went on to win the championship.

From watching tykes in full uniforms turn double plays, to helping out Curtis at the Mustang and Bronco South Zone Tournaments, to just wanting to stay connected with youth baseball now that her kids have aged out, Baker said it’s PONY’s mission to Protect Our Nation’s Youth that has her spending countless hours at ball yards volunteering her time.

“PONY helps kids – boys or girls – stay off the street, stay out of trouble,” said Baker. “It gives them a purpose. Helps them feel important, when they catch that ball or they hit that ball or they tag someone out. It’s a team effort. It’s not about me, it’s about us. It’s an awesome program.

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