Thomas “Tom” Collins will have field 5 at Hobo Jungle dedicated to his memory this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tom was involved in the early development of the Texarkana Youth Softball Association, and spent a great deal of time volunteering at the park. If you played softball there in the 1980s, there’s a good chance you saw Tom running around and taking care of various things there. According to his son, Tom would work the concession stands, chalk the fields, and do just about any job that needed to be done in the early days of the softball association. Tom’s love of softball has since passed down to his kids and even his grandkids as they played on the fields this past season.
Tom passed away in March of 2014 leaving behind a legacy of dedication and love for the game. After his passing, the determination was made to dedicate the field to his memory. As it became apparent the dedication would happen, Tom’s son, Thomas Collins II, began looking for ways to improve the field. The need for lighting at the field caught his attention and a drive to raise money was started first on Facebook where there are over 1,000 members already, and then at the local Red River Credit Union (Tom Collins Memorial Fund).
I had the opportunity to sit down with Thomas at the Old Tyme Burger Shoppe and discuss the memorial and the man. Thomas said he was humbled and honored that his father would have a field dedicated to his name. He stressed that his father loved the game and would often work for hours to ensure everything was just right at the fields prior to games. In the early days of the league, duties such as care of some of the fields and concession stands often fell to volunteers and even to the president of the association. Tom Collins never hesitated when needed. Even after working hours on his businesses, he would go out to the fields and spend more time there. Thomas said his sister played on the field and just this last season both of Tom’s grandkids enjoyed the field. Thomas says that with no current lighting at the park, kids cannot play ball after dark when it’s cooler. He obtained a couple of bids for lighting, and a fund was set up to coincide with the Facebook page and raise money. Thomas said that he hopes to host a golf tournament at some point and possibly some other fundraisers.
The dedication this Sunday at 2:30p.m. will take place on field 5 at Hobo Jungle. Former Mayor Smith, current Mayor Bell, and Ward Director Harris are expected to be on hand. In addition, State Representative Hickerson is expected to be present and a host of other people from around the city and county. Contributions toward the lighting campaign may be made at Red River Credit Union to the account “Tom Collins Memorial Fund.”