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The North Bend Eagle


 

Super fan Tank remembered with batting cage

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 9/7/11

 


Gerald Tank

Gerald Tank was the consummate sports fan. He played baseball and softball with the Maple Grove Sodbusters in the ‘30s and ‘40s. But his favorite past time was watching sports. He loved all kinds of sports. He had a favorite team for each season - St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns and of course, the Cornhuskers.

His son Mick Tank remembers coming home late from Husker games and his dad would still be up, watching the west coast teams. He had to change the satellite dish because Gerald wanted to watch more major league baseball than they could get on the old dish.

When Gerald Tank died at age 91 in August 2009, his children, sons Mick of North Bend, Rick of Silver Creek, and daughter Betty Harney of Columbus, wanted to do something special, something lasting to commemorate the life of their father. Mick has followed in his father’s footsteps and is also an avid sports fan. Though Rick and Betty were not into sports, they agreed with Mick that something to do with sports would be a fitting tribute. The Tank’s grandson, Jay Burton and his wife, Terri, are parents of three sons, Bryton, Camdyn and Draton, and all are sports fans, so they agreed anything to do with sports would be a good memorial.

Tank family donates batting cageBetty Harney, Jay Burton holding Draton, Connie Mimick, Teri Burton, Rick Tank, Mick Tank, (front) Camdyn and Bryton Burton donated the batting cage at the NBC softball field in memory of Gerald Tank.

“Anything to do with kids,” Harney added, “Mom and Dad would have been happy with.”

Harney remembers before television, Gerald would listen to two different games on the radio, and keep score for both.

The Tank family has been a part of the North Bend community since 1901 on their farm north of town. Gerald had lived within half a mile of the home place all his life, except for the seven months he lived in town while the new house was being built. So it had to be something local and sports related.

Mick read in the Eagle about the need for a batting cage for the school softball team. He knew the school board had been tossing around the idea for a number of years.

Mick talked to Tom Foltz and NBC softball coach Dan Nelson about it. He then had a meeting with softball parents Jody Jensen, Dave Hull, Jim Spath and Dan Mensik. Tank left it up to them to find a site, to scout as to what other schools had, what they liked or would improve on if they built it again.

“They did all the legwork,” Tank said. “I told them and my siblings, let’s do it right. It ain’t going to be moved.”

Different sites were considered with the area north of the softball field, toward the parking lot, considered the best spot. The Tank family paid for the building, chain link fence, net, and cement. It was suggested that something be built to store the equipment, so the Tanks bought a 10-foot by 12-foot storage shed.

“It wouldn’t have got done with out the donated labor,” Tank said. “The volunteers got it done. They could see the need for it.”

The school was very cooperative, purchasing the mats that are on top of the cement and a new pitching machine.

Tank has high praise for the many who worked on the project, but is hesitant to mention them by name because there were so many and he wouldn’t want to miss anyone.

He did help a little by putting a fence up, but mostly Tank wrote checks.
And he couldn’t be more pleased with the final product. Tank is hoping not just the softball team, but younger players, even the 8-and-under athletes will be able to use the batting cage. There will be a plaque dedicating the batting cage to Gerald and Gladys Tank.

“I think that’s what they would have liked,” Mick Tank said. “Mom loved kids, so she would have been happy. And of course, Dad loved sports.”

“It’s a neat addition to the school,” Rick Tank said. “Dad and Mom would have been happy.”

As proud as the Tanks are of the batting cage, Mick Tank has one final thought.

“It’s no good if it doesn’t get used. Coaches have keys. Just like anything else, if you don’t practice you won’t get better.”

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