Baseball

James W. "Jim" Turner

March 30, 1931 ~ September 23, 2021 (age 90)

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Obituary

Coach James "Jim" Turner passed away on September 23, 2021, at Woodbridge Health Campus in Logansport.

 He is survived by his loving family: wife, Muriel McWhorter Turner; daughter, Claudia (Bruce) Snyder; son, James (Sharon) Turner; grandchildren, Jessica (Eric) Snyder, Kayla (Zach) Turner, and Matthew (Hannah) Turner; and nephew Tom (Vickie) Edwards.

 He was preceded in death by his parents, Ray and Wilma Thompson Turner and his sister, Mary Ellen (Bob) Edwards.

 The visitation will be on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, from 2:00 – 7:00 p.m., at Kroeger Funeral Home in Logansport, with visitation also on Wednesday, from 12:00 noon until 2:00 p.m., at the funeral home.

 The funeral will be held at 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 29th, at Kroeger Funeral Home, with Rev. Scott Ellison and Pastor Mike Montgomery officiating.

 Interment, with full military honors, will follow at St. John's Cemetery.

The family requests masks be worn at the funeral home, if unvaccinated.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to Wheatland Avenue United Methodist Church, 440 Wheatland Avenue or Cass County Family YMCA, 905 E. Broadway, both in Logansport, IN 46947.

The following was written by Dave Long shortly after hearing of Coach Turner's death. 

It is so sad to hear of the passing of Jim Turner Sr.

There are not enough words to describe the impact that Jim has made on the community as well as the Logansport School Corporation. The many tributes from his former baseball players, former students, friends, and the entire community are powerful evidence of the contribution that he has made during his time in Logansport.

He was not only a four time state championship coach, but he was a class act. He was a class act as a coach, and he was an even better person. The many hundreds of young men who he contacted through coaching were all better people after having had him as a coach. Those who had him as a teacher in class at Logansport High School left his classes with a tremendous role model. Personally he was a friend, a really great friend. He continued to show that friendship through most of my life, and especially when I needed a friend the most. For more than the past 15 years we were able to get together for lunch each month. We solved all of the problems of the world, and continued conversations about all things baseball and life.

During my years of coaching Babe Ruth League baseball we often talked about mechanics and strategy. The players I coached I hoped didn't hear much different language when they got into high school. He will certainly be missed by all who have come in contact with him. My deepest condolences to Jim Jr., his wife, Muriel, his daughter, his immediate family and everyone who came to work with him and know him throughout his really iconic life. Jim celebrated his 90th birthday early this year. He often mentioned to me that he was so blessed to be able to live as long as he did, along with his wife. Jim suffered a stroke earlier this year, and developed other medical complications just recently. Everyone who knows him was hoping that he would be able to get through the latest medical setbacks, but it was just not to be. Jim had a great athletic career as a younger person, pitching both baseball and softball in Danville, Ill., and while he was in the service of our country. He said he often pitched a baseball game and then hoped a fence and pitched a softball game in the same day.

He actually was offered a professional baseball contract, but he said he turned it down because the money wasn't good enough at the time to take care of his family situation. He said he often has wondered if it would have ever worked out that he could have advanced into the major leagues. But, at the time he just didn't feel like he could take the chance.

Jim moved to Logansport to work at the Cass County family Y, and later as a teacher and coach at Logansport High School. He was never ejected from a baseball game. He said he always coached using the advice that was given to him by former LHS football coach Harvey Roberts, who got it from former LHS principal Hugh Leeman. "Never let 16-year-old baseball players allow you to make a fool out of yourself." I've talked to many umpires who have worked Logansport games. Besides describing Logansport as a very good team, they never hesitated to describe Jim as an example of what high school baseball coaches should be like. Jim would never say who he thought was the best team or player that he'd ever coached. There were so many. He always said that some of the teams that never made it to the state championships were just as good, or ever better sometimes, than the teams that won the state titles. He was inducted into the Indiana High School Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980. Of course he was very proud of Logansport's state championships in 1975, 1977, 1978 and 1991. I first met Jim when he was starting out as the head coach at Logansport, and I was a young sports writer. The team practiced and played at Riverside Park, and at that time the IHSAA did not yet have a post-season tournament. But, the players were just as dedicated and hard working playing just a regular season. Sometimes the stories I wrote about the team weren't very complimentary. The players never hesitated to tell me they didn't like them. Jim, however, never complained. He told me several times that he was glad that I was being honest about what was being written. "It's what they need to hear, and I don't have to tell them," he told me.

Jim never knew a stranger. During our monthly lunches there were always people walking by talking to him. He was a coach even after he retired from coaching at LHS. Whether it was helping out with individual workouts with players at the high school, to getting requests from parents to "take a look at my son," in the youth leagues. He was always willing to help. He said a lot that if he wasn't so old he'd still be interested in coaching a youth league team. He still thought it would be fun to teach young boys the fundamentals of the game. He often described fly balls he watched in the youth leagues going into the outfield as "an adventure." Jim supported the youth leagues in the community. He no doubt attended more baseball games in the Logansport community than anyone else, including coaches and players. He was a familiar face at high school, Babe Ruth and youth league games from the time he came to Logansport through the past season.

 He never got tired of talking baseball with anyone who stopped him and wanted to ask questions, get recommendations for their sons, or just dig into his infinite knowledge of the game. Jim was a Chicago Cubs fan. During the baseball season we'd talk about the major league season. He said many times that the Cubs would be a better team if they would quit trying to swing for the fences all of the time, and play more team baseball at the plate. He was a strong advocate of strong straight swings that produced more line drives and hard ground balls. His teams had drills designed to attempt to eliminate pop ups. He was always coaching, even in front of the TV during major league games. He said he was blessed with good coaches in Butch Jones and Rich Wild during his career. They worked together long hours, and Jim always admired their dedicated work. There was much more to Jim's life than any one person would ever know. The different people with whom he came in contact, the time he spent just talking to young players not only about baseball, but life experiences were a part of his makeup. No one will ever know how many lives he affected.

 

He had a sense of humor. Sometimes you didn't know when he was joking and when he was not. I remember one time not long ago when we went to a restaurant that we normally didn't go. Jim liked poppy seed dressing on salads. The waitress came up and he ordered a salad. He had a straight face when asking the waitress, "you don't have poppy seed dressing, do you," he asked. The waitress told him they didn't. "That's why we don't come here," he said. I about fell off my chair. I'd never heard him talk to a waitress like that. Then he started smiling, and ordered a different dressing. "I'll bet they get poppy seed dressing," he laughed. That was Jim. Sometimes you send a message using a direct method, and sometimes you do it so they'll have to think about it, he said.

This could go on and on. There is a special place for him today in heaven alongside his family, and anyone who wants to talk about baseball. I've always liked the verse of the Vince Gill song, that I believe with a little personal addition. "Go to heaven, Jim Turner, your work on earth is done."

 

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