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Rogers joins Howard & Daigle in NJCAA Hall of Fame

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Roger Hall of Fame speech Rogers Hall of Fame

The Bible has the Three Wise Men and USA Stadium officially has Three Wise Hall of Famers.
On May 23, Thomas “Tommy” Rogers was inducted into the Class of 2014 NJCAA Hall of Fame in Grand Junction, Colo., along side coaches Eric Brown, Steve Ruzich and Tim Wallace.
“I feel good and honored, humbled,” Rogers said. “I went in with a group of coaches. It’s not everyday they put somebody in who’s not a coach. They do it periodicly when somebody comes up deserving and somebody nominates them. It was surprising and humbling to find out I was nominated.”
Dave Chamberlain nominated Rogers and in January at the AABC Baseball Convention the news was announced that Rogers would be the third man from Millington to be inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame.
In the past Chamberlain has nominated USA Stadium founder W.S. “Babe” Howard and longtime director of the Stadium John Daigle.
Rogers’ path to becoming an Hall of Famer started in 1985 prior to the arrivial fo the Olympic Baseball Team in 1986. From cleaning restrooms to driving teams around, Rogers did it all at the Stadium.
“You don’t do it for recognition, I never have,” the Millington native said. “I call myself the flunky around there. John always said I was the person that held everything together around there. If something needed to be done, they called on me and I got it done.
“I did it for the love,” Rogers added. “Most of the hours spent over there before the city took it over were unpaid hours. I worked for the Millington Telephone Company for a salary. But you go over there and work until 10, 11 or 12 o’clock at night. You put in long hours. You do it because you love the game of baseball and you love the people you work with.”
Team USA called Millington home for 10 years and during that time Rogers’ responsiblities at the Stadium grew into assitant tournament director for the NJCAA Division II World Series from 1993 to 2007.
In 1993, the NJCAA Division II World Series called Millington home.  Rogers was a  leader in the coordination of the tournament and assisted teams in all phases while they were in Millington.
In addition, Rogers and Daigle  volunteered for the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association. The duo provided assistance to NJCAA All-Star teams, supplying them a training site at USA Stadium in addition to other services like transportation, housing, meals and more
Rogers noted the 2004 trip to Beijing, China was one of his top experiences with the NJCAA. Rogers and Daigle went as part of the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association to assist with its All-Star team.
Even when the NJCAA Division II World Series moved to Enid, Okla., in 2007, Rogers continued to lend his support and assistance to the coaches association in scheduling international competition and all-star events.
Even now more than 20 JUCO teams from the Midwest and North come down to play at USA Stadium  in February and early March to play games. Rogers said it is important to stay in contact with the NJCAA.
The 1964 graduate of Millington Central High School said it is important to keep the Stadium in the limelight for future generatioins. Serving as the director of operations, Rogers is working along with the rest of the USA Stadium staff to bring traditional and new events to town.
“In hopes that we’ll see those stands full again,” he said. “You never know when something is going to come along. The baseball guy over there now, Johnny Ray, works real hard in  baseball to bring events over there. The city, we’re trying to get the rodeos coming back. We have other functions, the car shows and International Goat Days which is a legacy in itself. We’re hoping one day to see that place full again.”
From the days of Team USA to the height of the World Series, Rogers gave dedicated services to the Stadium. Supporting all the way was his family son Paul, daughter Christina and wife Janis.
“Coaches, they go in coach a game and then get on the bus or maybe go home,” Rogers noted. “When you run a stadium like this, you’re there from 8:30 in the morning, sometimes 7:30 in the morning until sometimes after midnight. You left home, your wife was in the bed. When you get home she’s still in the bed. If you don’t have an understanding wife, I don’t think you can do the job.”
Doing his job, the little things and going the extra step for those visiting Millington to play baseball made Rogers a Hall of Famer. When the 67-year-old took to the stage in Colorado, he was proud to represent his hometown.
“I do love the city of Millington,” Rogers said. “I’ve worked here all my life. I worked 46 years for the Phone Company and retired in 2011 after Mr. Howard passed away. I continued to work at the Stadium.
“Of course Mr. Howard basically put me over the Stadium,” he concluded. “I became a part time Telephone person and a full-time Stadium person the last 10 years. It’s hard to find words to express. I do love the city of Millington. And I do want to see the Stadium grow and be full again.”

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June 2014
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