Martin honored for dedication to Hobbs baseball
Ronnie Martin’s name will be immortalized at the one place his friends and family constantly saw him, a baseball field.
During Monday’s Hobbs City Commission meeting, commissioners unanimously approved the naming of Ball Field No. 4 at the Jefferson Ballpark Complex after Martin, who passed away on May 17, 2017 at the age of 75.
“This is a great honor for the Hobbs baseball community and Ronnie’s family,” said Hobbs Community Affairs Chairman Kevin Naegele. “Ronnie is one of the most deserving players individuals to have a field named after him.”
Martin grew up in Hobbs playing Little League and high school baseball. As a Hobbs Eagle, his head baseball coach was famed Eagles basketball coach Ralph Tasker. Martin graduated from Hobbs High School in 1959. At the age of 19, he began working for the U.S. Post Office and as a Little League coach. He worked for the post office for 37 years, but coached for more than four decades.
In addition to Little League, Martin also coached a youth Lion’s Club team and was the founder of the West Texas-New Mexico Men’s Baseball League and played for the local team, the Hobbs A’s. He played well into his 50s and hit his last home run at age 51. He is credited with instilling the game of baseball to hundreds of youngsters.
Before the commission’s vote, Mayor Sam Cobb recognized Martin’s family members who attended Monday’s meeting. They included his daughter, Kim Martin-Gonzales and her husband Freddy, Martin’s mother-in-law Margie McBroom and his granddaughter Cassi Wisneski.
“I just want to tell how much … we appreciate your contribution to our community and certainly Ronnie’s contribution to our community and to all of the youth activities and adult sport activities he was engaged in,” Cobb said to Martin’s family. “It’ll be an honor to name the field after him tonight.”
Naegele said the next step is making the naming official. Although plans have not been discussed, Naegele would like to have a naming ceremony sometime in the summer and make it a reunion.
“It would be great to have as many former players of Ronnie’s come and attend a ceremony,” he said. “We could make it a reunion event. Ronnie touched so many lives throughout the years and it would just be great to have some of those lives in attendance.”
Naegele said that when the search began, he looked to people within the Hobbs community who were heavily involved in the sport of baseball throughout the years.
“And no matter who I asked, Ronnie’s name always came up,” Naegele said.
One of the people Naegele went to for advice was Hobbs native Ray Birmingham. He is the current University of New Mexico head baseball coach and played for Martin during his youth. Birmingham gave a statement to the commission, which was read by Hobbs Parks and Recreation Director Doug McDaniel.
“No man gives a greater gift than that of himself to help others,” Birmingham stated. “Ronnie Martin helped so many of us with baseball. His dedication to the game and (to) us was life-changing for myself and so many others. God bless Ronnie.”