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posted: 7/11/2012 12:01 PM

First president of Palatine Boys Baseball never lost interest

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  • Thomas Bowman of Palatine, far right.

      Thomas Bowman of Palatine, far right.

 

Thomas Bowman ~ 1921-2012

By Eileen O. Daday

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Daily Herald correspondent

Thomas Bowman Jr. built a career in real estate and he volunteered in several youth organizations in Palatine, but the one title he cherished all his life was as the first president of Palatine Boys Baseball.

He wore a watch with his name and title engraved on it, given to him at the end of the organization's first full year, in 1971. The league he worked to start, literally organizing crews of volunteers to carve out the fields and build backstops, now is part of the Palatine Park District and is known as Palatine Youth Baseball/Softball.

Bowman passed away on July 3, at the age of 91.

Starting their own league were so important to Bowman that he documented it, covering their split in 1970 from the Palatine North chapter of Little League, through the development of the three fields at Community Park and one behind St. Theresa Church; through ultimately severing ties with Little League and reorganizing through the Boys Baseball Foundation.

"Our premise when we started was to try to give the game back to the boys," Bowman wrote. "We encouraged younger adults to work with the boys whenever we could and tried to get fathers to help in other capacities."

They also wanted to group teams around one age group, rather than putting several years together. They felt multiple age grouped teams hindered younger players by having them play on larger diamonds and run longer base paths.

"It was pretty controversial at the time," says Bowman's daughter, Jacquie Morrow of Canton, Ga., "but my dad wanted it to be equitable for all boys to play."

The organization was eventually absorbed in 1983 by the Palatine Park District, where it continued to grow and adapt to the needs of prep ballplayers, both those in recreational play and travel leagues, said Superintendent of Recreation Keith Williams.

The fields that Bowman and his crew of more than 100 volunteers built at Community Park continue to host teams of all ages.

In recognition of his work to build the organization and his continued volunteer efforts with Palatine youth, Bowman was inducted in 2000 into the Palatine Park District Honor Roll. He continued to attend the annual induction ceremonies through last year, when he turned 90.

Bowman was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Geraldine, and his great-granddaughter, Kiera Grady. Besides his daughter, he is survived by his children, Maureen Bowman, Thomas (Susan) Bowman and Michael (Debra) Bowman; as well as well as seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Services have been held.

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