Former coach Rick Daun receives honor
By Erik Buchinger
Rick Daun received the George Huntley Award at Hatten Park prior to the New London Clippers game against the Clintonville Diamond Cats on Friday, July 7.
“It’s who it’s named for that really makes it special,” Daun said following the award presentation. “George was a guy who gave so much of his time, and the kids of New London really benefited by it. He was instrumental in the program in those early years getting it going and keeping it going. In George’s name, it really means something special.”
The award was announced from the press box by Jim Crain, who began by discussing what Huntley did for the team to have an award given out in his name.
“George Huntley volunteered his time to sell beer for every game that I coached until he passed away,” Crain said. “We’ve given this award to someone every year since [Huntley’s death] who typifies George’s commitment to American Legion Baseball and the youth of New London.”
Daun was an assistant coach under Jim Stern in the early 1990s and was the head coach for New London Legion through the ‘90s before becoming the team’s business manager until he and his wife moved to Florida in 2009.
“We finally got Rick and Doreen back here from Florida to receive this award,” Crain said. “We’ve wanted to give it to them for many years.
“I am honored to present the 2017 George Huntley Award to the man I feel brought American Legion Baseball to where it is today in New London – a great friend of the Clippers, a great friend of New London and a great friend of mine. Congratulations, Rick Daun.”
Daun posed for photos and was honored by the crowd at Hatten Stadium. He was able to see his first New London Legion baseball game in about 10 years, he said.
“Well, it’s special,” Daun said. “Hatten Park has always been special. It’s nice to see what’s happened here, and I hope it continues. It’s one of New London’s finest features I think, and they’ve done a nice job fixing it up and moving in lights, and hopefully the future is bright for Hatten Stadium. It’s always been a special place for me. I’ve spent a lot of years here.”
Daun said it has been difficult to travel back to New London during New London Legion Baseball season in the past few years.
“The Legion has been really good, and they’ve asked me a couple times, but it’s been hard to get home this time of year,” Daun said. “We have some aging parents, and it’s another reason for us to come home, so it just worked out great.”
The game was delayed because of rain earlier in the evening, and Daun said he was glad the game was still able to be played.
“We saw the rain coming in, and I talked to Jim, who said Huntley Night has never been rained out before,” Daun said. “I knew somehow it would work out.”
Daun said he wanted to thank several people who had helped out with New London Legion Baseball in the past.
I just want to thank all those people who volunteered when I was here and when we were trying to keep Legion Baseball alive and prospering,” Daun said. “There are so many. You can’t run an organization like this without the volunteers. Tonight is my chance to be in the limelight, but I’m sure in the coming years those people will be recognized too.”