(Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:11 AM
As rain continued to pound the outer fields at McMurry Park last May, a lone figure in waterproof boots was already working on the mess.
The first day of the state baseball playoffs in Sulphur should have been washed out. Heavy rains battered the area for most of the morning and early afternoon.
Yet Norman Farr and his crew were determined not to miss a pitch.
It was Farr, working on draining one of the warning tracks, that was the solo figure as everybody else huddled under some type of coverage.
Staying dry was not his concern. Staying on schedule was.
By late that evening all the first-round games had been played.
It wasn’t easy. Delays and field changes were a logistical nightmare, but Farr and his team saved the day.
It was the first time Sulphur was hosting baseball championships and, just like it is with the Fast Pitch 56 softball tournament, the event was a big success.
While many deserve credit, it is Farr, the director of parks and recreation in Sulphur, who is the heartbeat of each major event in the city.
He and his folks will once again take center stage this weekend as Sulphur hosts the seven state softball championships for the 14th consecutive year at Frasch Park.
“Norman takes great pride in the fields and the complex,” said Sulphur Mayor Chris Duncan. “He wants our fields to be top. He wants to give everybody the best experience possible.
“He wants to make sure that when they leave Sulphur they had a great time and want to come back. Norman is a tremendous asset to our community and to all of Southwest Louisiana.”
Clearly, Farr and his crew have built a history of entertainment and excitement that has fans and teams always ready to come back.
“It is just a great atmosphere they put on over there,” said Grand Lake head softball coach Rachelle Monceaux. “It is such a well-run tournament and they treat everybody so good, it is just a great experience.”
Actually, it is seven tournaments all going on at the same time over the course of two days.
While championships are being decided, Farr wants to make sure all feel like they are winners.
“We are blind to the size of the school, to the records and to just which team is winning and losing,” he said. “We want to make sure that what we do is put on the best show possible. We want people leaving here wanting to come back not just because they want to win a championship but because they had a good time.”
For Farr, this weekend is the best time for him and his crew to showcase the best facilities around.
“Fast Pitch 56 is a nice way to put our best foot forward,” he said. “It is such a great and exciting event that people want to come here and not have to worry about anything.
“What we try to do is to make sure we fill all of their needs and the needs of the team and the LHSAA. If we do that then we are happy.”
However, Farr doesn’t consider this just a Sulphur event.
He thinks it is the perfect time to show off all of the region, including Lake Charles.
It worked when the National Pro Fastpitch softball championships came to Sulphur for back-to-back summers starting in 2009. It helped bring national attention to the area.
“All of Southwest Louisiana can take pride in what we do and our community,” said Farr. “It is great that the entire region can benefit.”
It has made Duncan a recognizable man even out of the state of Louisiana.
“I was in Dallas and other parts of Texas recently and some people saw my Sulphur hat and logo on my shirt,” the major said. “They asked me if that is where the beautiful softball fields were at. I got to say yes.
“Norman and his people have helped make Sulphur known outside the state and even in other countries as teams come here to play and leave raving about our facilities. We can thank Norman for that.”
Farr would much rather talk about his crew or all the volunteers who give up their time to make the events run without a glitch, or make that a big glitch.
“Every year a few things come up, but we have a great group of people who are trained and ready to make the needed corrections without my being affected,” Farr said. “We could not do anything without the great crew and the volunteers.
Like when those rains hit last May. No question four tournaments at one site would have been too much for most facilities to handle thanks to the showers that lingered for hours.
Not Farr’s folks.
“Our crew was prepared,” Farr said. “It doesn’t take that long for us to get on anything and make the adjustments.
“It’s all teamwork.”
And like every good team this one has a captain and his name is Norman Farr.
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Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at email@example.com