The Long Beach community honored a local legend recently when the city revealed a new scoreboard at the historic Stearns Championship Field.
The field was renamed Tom Buckle Field to honor Buckle, who was a Long Beach Little League legend that spent 50 years encouraging the next generation of youth players. A new scoreboard with the name Buckle Field will remind players of his impact for years to come.
Buckle was a father for all and those that interacted with him told stories of him walking into all the dugouts to speak life into kids.
Buckle came to Long Beach from Canada when his brother joined the police department and he never left the city, leaving a lasting impact.
“My dad was never really one to evaluate a talent,” Larry Buckle said. “He felt everybody had a talent. He just wanted to give everybody an opportunity to learn and play the game and be a part of it.”
Along with his passion for helping anyone that was interested in picking up a baseball, Tom wanted to make sure every kid played three outs in the field and got one at bat.
“He wanted to make sure that every kid got to experience playing baseball and that’s what he was all about,” Larry said.
Buckle was truly dedicated to coaching and helping kids learn the game of baseball.
“He did something he loved,” Larry said. “He never thought he’d get his name on the field. But he was able, we were able to dedicate the field before he passed.”
Growing up on the field, Larry was one of three Buckle generations that made Buckle Field a home over the years.
Larry played at the field growing up and eventually went on to have a stint playing in the minor leagues for Cincinnati.
After his playing days, Larry returned to Long Beach where he’d coach with his father and teach his son Sean to play the game.
Sean followed in his father’s footsteps playing Little League at Buckle Field before playing high school baseball at Wilson, where he went on to earn a scholarship to play baseball at Loyola Marymount.
Sean dealt with his own tribulations after his final game of high school when he suffered a neck injury that postponed his college start and sent him on an intensive rehab plan after having emergency surgery.
After a grueling three months of sticking to his plan, Sean attended LMU where he played four years of college baseball.
Even after dealing with his own personal struggles, Sean remembers the lessons his grandfather Tom taught him when he was first picking up a baseball before he could walk.
“He really taught me about resilience, perseverance and to keep pushing through,” Sean said.
With the field he grew up playing on being dedicated to his grandfather, Sean hopes that the lessons he learned growing up will continue to be passed to the next generations of baseball players that look up and ask about who the scoreboard is dedicated to.
“I just want them to remember grandpa,” Sean said. “Grandpa was this kind of father figure at the field. He’s always poke his head in the dugouts of the kids and tell them life lessons. He loved the game and the kids and that’s what I want people to always remember about him.”