‘Rogers Field’ preserves memory of Coronado’s biggest baseball backer

      

Tom Rogers, an avid baseball player himself, is immortalized in bronze on this plaque that has been installed by the concession stand behind the Coronado High School baseball diamond. The bill on the cap stands out - a deliberate invitation for future Cougar players to touch their gloves to it for luck, according to Coach Bobby Lizarraga.
Westside Pioneer photo
Since the school started in 1970, Coronado High's baseball field at the northwest corner of the campus was just that - the baseball field.
       Now it has a name. An estimated 130 supporters, led by school baseball coach Bobby Lizarraga, joined in a dedication July 11 of what has been titled Rogers Field.
       The name is in memory of Tom Rogers, a Westside resident, owner of the Cliff Dwellings attraction and avid Coronado High baseball supporter. If not for the cancer that brought him down last October, July 11 would have been his 53rd birthday.
       The honor to Rogers is physically evident in two places. Just beyond the right-centerfield fence, near a newly placed flagpole, is a large metal sign that reads “Rogers Field,” preceded by “Coronado High School” with the school's cougar logo in the upper right. And, next to the concession stand in the spectator area behind home plate is a stone plaque that reads: “In Honor and Recognition of Tom Rogers' Continued Support and Dedication to the Coronado Cougars Baseball Community and Family.”
       Lizarraga, a close friend of Rogers', described a combined effort of volunteer time and donations that resulted in the sign and plaque. The sign was donated by Brad and Patti Brunk of Sigma Metals, Rocky Mountain Memorial prepared the plaque's stone and etching, and Larry Terrafranca created the likness of Rogers on the plaque, the coach said. Others he cited for key contributions were Ken Yager, Dan Daly, Tim Haas, Glen Nemer and Brad and Joanne Dreher.
       Rogers'' support of Coronado High School baseball, going back to 1999, included donations for fencing, batting cages, infield grass, miscellaneous equipment and sometimes even summer jobs for players, according to Lizarraga.
       Rogers' wife Donna was a Coronado graduate. His affinity for baseball even took him to fantasy camps, where he got to know several major league players. Rogers was also known for donating to different causes in Manitou Springs.

A recently installed sign behind the fence in right-center at the Coronado High School baseball field reveals the field's new name. Not shown is the new flagpole nearby, closer to straightaway center.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The dedication “was just the kind of event Tom would have loved,” said Michele Carvell, director of Pikes Peak Country Attractions. “There were kids running around, with friends and neighbors. And after the unveiling, there was a barbecue and kids were playing wiffleball until it started to rain.”
       The main speakers were Rogers' widow Donna and daughter Courtney.
       “It was emotional for many,” Lizarraga said. “There was definitely a sense of satisfaction.” With the plaque, “we have a place now that we can go and sit and it's like he's there and you can talk a bit to him.”
       A unique feature of the plaque is Terrafranca's close-up bronze image of Rogers himself, as he would have looked facing a pitcher in his right-handed batting stance and wearing a baseball cap with a Coronado “C” on it. According to Lizarraga, the number 33 on the image's wristband represents the favorite number of Tara Rogers, one of Tom's and Donna's two daughters, who had died of an intestinal illness at age 21.
       The bill of the plaque's cap juts out a little, by intent. Lizarraga would like a tradition to start in which Coronado players touch the bill with their gloves, eventually wearing it down to look like shiny brass.
       The coach was asked if that might bring the team luck. “Absolutely,” he said. “We'll have an angel looking over us, no doubt.”

Westside Pioneer article