Triumph over Tragedy
Hollingsworth finds solace through work with Babe Ruth League
As parents, we all know the worst thing that can happen is to lose a child.
In May of 1991, that is what happened to Danny Hollingsworth when his 13-year old son Jonathan was killed on a practice field adjacent to the current field that was at the time called Northside Park or Folk Lambert Field.
Jonathan was struck in the neck during a pick-off play drill and was taken to the Lewisburg Community Hospital before being transported by Huntsville MedFlight to Vanderbilt University Hospital where he was later pronounced dead at 9:30 p.m. that night.
Jonathan was a seventh-grader at the time of his tragic death, attending Connelly School in Lewisburg and was a member of the 1990 Marshall County Little League All-Star Team that participated in the SE Regional Tournament at St. Petersburg, Florida the previous summer.
How do you survive the loss that tears your heart out?
Volunteerism is the way Danny Hollingsworth triumphed over tragedy, working tirelessly for years as a Little League coach, a Babe Ruth League coach as well as president, field maintenance general and board member of both the Babe Ruth League and Little League.
"I'm afraid that is the biggest thing as parents that we are getting away from," Hollingsworth said. "People don't realize what it takes to put a program together because it takes so many volunteers and that is what scares me, the volunteers here and at the Little League park keep getting smaller and smaller every year."
Wall of Fame
Danny Hollingsworth was eventually inducted into the Marshall County Babe Ruth League Wall of Fame where his giant size baseball plaque hangs on the wall of the main building on the field named after his son at the 1991 closing awards ceremony.
For 25 years, the Marshall County Babe Ruth has honored Jonathan's memory with the Jonathan D. Hollingsworth Award that is presented each season at the closing ceremonies.
"It's a great honor for me, Jonathan and our whole family to have the Babe Ruth League express their feelings for the last 26 years about how they have felt about Jonathan out here as a player and a person," Hollingsworth said at Tuesday night's closing ceremonies. "The award means a lot to me because it stands for a lot of things...integrity, the love for his teammates and the hustle and the sportsmanship that Jonathan had for the other teams. This award is not for the best player in the league, but for the kid who displays the traits that Jonathan had when he was alive."
It's funny how things go through perseverance as Hollingsworth was rewarded when his daughter Leah was born and like Jonathan, Leah was and is all about sports and ball.
"The Lord blessed me, he took one away and gave me another one," Hollingsworth said. "Leah is the spitting image of Jonathan who has come in a different form and I feel blessed every day because of Leah."
Now a junior on the Marshall County High School Tigerettes softball, basketball and cross country teams, Leah rejuvenated the life of her father, who is currently an assistant coach for the Tigerettes' softball squad and has managed many highly successful all-star teams and travel ball teams with Leah on the roster.
Still a tireless worker, Hollingsworth is the field maintenance man at Reese Hambrick Field and is also involved with the Marshall County Youth Baseball and Softball League.
Hollingsworth and many others involved have been through many tough years trying to keep the Babe Ruth League alive.
Many local leagues have dwindled in participation over the years as travel ball has grown and high schools have added summer leagues, but Hollingsworth is adamant about the importance of keeping the league going for the kids who want to play Babe Ruth.
"It means everything to keep this program alive out here and I hope everybody in the city knows that and realizes that," Hollingsworth said. "I want to commend the people out here this year for the job they have done, including the president (Kenneth Demastus) who has worked tirelessly and done an absolutely wonderful job and Steve (Reese), who has the field in the best shape I have seen in many years."
He would also like to see the City of Lewisburg take a bigger ownership role for the Jonathan D. Hollingsworth Babe Ruth Field that is the first place many visitors see when they enter the town.
"This is a Mecca for these kids to play and I hope the city realizes that this is a place where kids learn the values of life, it is just not a place where they play baseball," Hollingsworth said. "It is also the first thing people see when they enter our town and I would like to see the city help them out, step up and come through with more funding if they want to keep this place as a Mecca for our children."
"This is one of the best facilities in the state and it only happens if people care, people just have to keep caring, not because this park is named for Jonathan, but because we need this to keep these kids off the street and have an opportunity to teach them the values of life through baseball."