LTBA honors longtime president

Tribune Chronicle / Robert Hayes Cait Kelm delivers a pitch against the West Geauga Wolverines in a 4-0 win for Lakeview on Thursday in Cortland. Kelm had 15 strikeouts to lead the Bulldogs to a Division III district semifinal.

LIBERTY — Memories and reminders are everywhere for Mick Marsco and the rest of his family, and they’re not easy to endure.

The Marscos lost a father, an uncle, a grandfather and so much more on Sept. 7, 2018, and Liberty Township lost a fixture in the community for the last four decades. Michael A. Marsco Jr., a father of three and longtime president of the Liberty Township Baseball Association, passed away last fall after a short battle with cancer.

“We have daily reminders,” said Mick of he and his family. “Every time I get my kids ready for a game, it’s a reminder, and it’s hard because my dad came to all my boys’ events. Robby (Mick’s son and Michael’s grandson) just started playing. He was able to catch Robby’s first tee-ball game a couple days after he got diagnosed. Whether it was baseball or a flag football game, whether it was raining or sunshine, for any of his grandsons, he was there.”

In a way, he’ll continue to be there.

The LTBA honored Michael on May 5 for his many years of service at Liberty Township’s Center Park by dedicating a field in his name. A billboard with “Mike Marsco Field” on it along with a picture of Michael looks over the field.

Mick, his sisters, Amanda and Shana, along with several other family and friends were in attendance for the ceremony. While some reminders can be hard for them to think about, this one put a smile on their faces.

“This event has so much meaning to us,” said Shana, a 2005 Liberty High School graduate. “We grew up at those baseball fields. And now having children of our own, unfortunately he won’t be here to see them play the game, but they will be able to see this legacy that he built and hopefully play on that field and know the impact he had on others. He will always be looking down on them smiling.”

Mike Marsco began his tenure as LTBA president in the late 1980s, and he continued on well after his children — all Liberty graduates — finished playing in the youth baseball organization.

Mike did a little bit of everything as president, according to Mick and current president and friend Jim Spisak. Marsco ran the league, tended to the fields, set up fundraisers and spearheaded numerous renovations and improvements (lights, a tee-ball field, a scoreboard, etc.).

A pillar in the community, he also was co-chair of the committee that helped produce the new Liberty High School, which opened in 1999.

Most importantly, Michael was a devoted father who attended every possible event for his children and grandchildren.

“Sports were very much a part of our family,” said Amanda, a 2002 Liberty graduate. “My father would work all day, come home from work to change his clothes and we would all head to the baseball fields, summer after summer growing up. He was a familiar face, and voice, at those fields for many decades. He led by example — teaching, demonstrating and explaining the game. He was very knowledgeable. When he was coaching, he was in his element, and he did it with passion, which is why I believe he never gave coaching up, even after he no longer had children of his own in the league.”

His passion for sports brought more than his family together. It helped bring communities closer, and it still does.

The baseball fields — there are five total — have stayed in good condition since their inception. Located by the township administration building, they now host numerous tournaments and leagues from all over the Mahoning Valley. In fact, last Sunday, a short time after Marsco’s dedication, Mike’s two grandsons were part of the first game played on Mike Marsco Field.

Mick, whose real name is Michael A. Marsco III, was coaching in the game, and his oldest son, Michael A. Marsco IV, was the leadoff hitter. It only seemed fitting the 8-year-old laced a single to left-center field to start the game.

“It was a surreal moment when they took the banner off and we saw Mike Marsco Field,” Mick said. “It was such an honor. The only thing that would’ve been better is if he was here to see it himself. But for his grandkids to be there and see that and know they were the first ones, Michael and Robby, two of his grandkids, were the first to play on the field. His oldest grandson, Michael, got the first hit on the field. It was just a great moment to be surrounded by family and friends that came out.”

In a way, Mike was watching — smiling down at the field and family he helped form.

And he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. His son-in-law, Joe Fagnano (Shana’s husband), joked that Michael Jr. was somewhat notorious for getting on the umpires. He may or may not have been tossed a time or two as he stuck up for his kids.

“He is there forever,” Fagnano said. “They can’t kick him out now.”

Liberty Township Park seems to be better for it.