It was only fitting that a throng of fans ringing the infield on a picture-postcard day, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, came to cheer the renaming of the La Verne Little League field to the Kirk B. Johnson Memorial Pelota Park.
Johnson was a beloved and respected member of the La Verne community who died Aug. 29, 2016. Besides building a successful real estate practice in town, Johnson was a fixture at Pelota Park for years, coaching not only his son Brock, but teams of players out to enjoy the sport.
A long line of coaches, players and community members stepped to the podium in front of home plate to recall his impact on their lives and his contributions to the league and the greater community. Johnson was known for trying to always make things just a little better, whether it was sitting on the league’s board of directors, coaching all-stars, reworking the mound or grooming the infield grass. “He poured his heart into this place,” one coach recalled.
And in return, La Verne came out in large numbers to pour out its respects with a classy and heartfelt dedication. Johnson is survived by his wife Debbie, son Brock and daughter Cameron.
Mayor Don Kendrick said the La Verne community had a long tradition of naming streets and public spaces after distinguished residents who had a profound impact on the community. Johnson played Little League in La Verne and later enjoyed the privilege of returning to the field again as a coach, completing a circle of life that was apparent for all to see and feel at Saturday’s ceremony.
All photos were taken by Eric Davis, just another in a long line of Johnson’s fans.