Owens' passion for Linfield baseball will be remembered
Linfield senior baseball player Tim Wilson said those words just after the Wildcats scored five runs in the last two innings to defeat Wisconsin-Stevens Point 5-3 May 26 to earn a spot in the national finals.
The day before, Saturday May 25, Arnold Sheldon Owens passed away while in Appleton, Wis. to support the Linfield baseball team at the NCAA Division III College World Series. He was 81.
“That hit me pretty hard,” Wilson said. “I really wanted to go out and just win it for him.”
Owens, known affectionately as “Arnie” by the entire Linfield baseball team, was an ardent supporter of Linfield athletics — most specifically baseball. Owens attended as many practices as he could and sat in the front row at Roy Helser Field behind home plate with his wife of 59 years, Marilyn. Owens and his wife were in Appleton for the third time in six years to support the Wildcats when he passed.
Senior Jordan Harlow said coach Scott Brosius told the team the sad news on the way to its morning batting practice session on the morning of May 26.
“There were some guys getting pretty choked up,” he said.
Then the Wildcats had to go out and play a baseball game that evening vs. UW-Stevens Point. Junior Nick Fisher said the Wildcats got a boost in the seventh inning, trailing 3-0. Marilyn Owens arrived at the ballpark. After the players noticed, they scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and three more in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 5-3 lead. Division III Pitcher of the Year Chris Haddeland came in to close out the game in the top of the ninth inning.
“I’m not really a religious guy, but it makes you think,” Fisher said. “It’s pretty special. Gives me goosebumps.”
Fisher said Marilyn Owens’ gesture wasn’t lost on any of the players that day.
“I wasn’t surprised to see her because they have been just tremendous baseball fans,” he said, “but it is pretty remarkable that she did when you think about her losing her life partner the night, morning before.
“I’m glad she did come, though, because that was just an unbelievable game and experience to put us in the championship game.”
At Linfield’s championship celebration May 31 at Roy Helser Field, a photo of Owens wearing a purple Linfield hooded sweatshirt and red baseball cap was tapped to the front of table next to the podium at home plate. Just above the picture was Linfield’s national championship trophy. Players and coaches reminisced about “Arnie” and the kindness and devotion he displayed.
Catcher Kyle Chamberlain said Owens would sit in the third-base dugout during practices and greet any of the players that walked over to get water. During Chamberlains freshman year, he recalls taking some cuts in the batting cage, and there was Owens.
“He asked me my name, I told him, and he knew all about me already,” Chamberlain said. “He researched everyone. He knew where I went to high school, what position. Everything.”
“He’s a great guy,” Junior Jake Wylie said. “He was always here supporting. He loved to come out and watch us.”
Harlow said the Wildcats played the rest of the CWS for Owens. Linfield assistant coach Scott Carnahan said some sort of memorial will be put up this summer at the field.
“He will be remembered forever,” Carnahan said.
A celebration of Owens’ life will be held today at 11 a.m. at the McMinnville Covenant Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Owens’ name to Linfield College or the McMinnville Covenant Church.