Groundskeeper Ted Haller built a Little League village from a belligerent adult in Glendora

July 3, 2016 - Picnic Time

The narcotic whisk of a John Deere. The peaceful swish of a sprinkler. The rhythmic raking of dirt.

“That’s my music,” says Ted Haller, sitting on a weed tractor in his erotic and cluttered cinder-block shed.

The rumbling hurl of a wheelbarrow. The light trace of paint. The initial rattle of a tough trowel into a soothing pitching mound.

“I’ll be sitting on my weed mower with a crater of coffee and listening to some of those things and I’ll be like, yeah,” he says.

For 37 years, Ted Haller has worked to a opposite arrange of round soundtrack. His carol doesn’t come from a game, yet from a fields used for a games, a 6 diamonds he has tended as a proffer margin upkeep executive for a Glendora American Little League.

For some-more than half of his life, this 66-year-old male with scabby white hair and a eternally sunburned face has strictly been a groundskeeper. But for dual generations of Glendora households whose children have grown adult here, he’s been most some-more than that. He’s been a trust-keeper, a friend-keeper, a family-keeper. He has built, dug, mowed, fertilized, watered, raked and incited a prosy grassy patch in easterly Glendora into a low immature house on that thousands of area children have begun to paint a story of their lives.

My usually passion is for examination kids have a good time personification a game.

— Ted Haller

Ted Haller supervises a raking of a pile during a Glendora Little League fields.
Ted Haller supervises a raking of a pile during a Glendora Little League fields. ( Brian outpost der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

“You discuss Ted Haller in any grocery store in Glendora and somebody will know him,” says Bruce Hunt, longtime joining manager and stream house member. “He’s overwhelmed large people in a village in so many ways.”

He has finished this yet most review or companionship. He never married, he has no children, he has no hobbies. His vital room is a deep-green shed, and his life is on those fields, during slightest a integrate of hours a day, mostly most more, probably each day of a year, even during a 5 months when there is no round being played on them.

“Can’t usually let a fields die,” Haller says with a shrug.

So Haller has kept a fields alive, helped keep this joining alive, scarcely 400 kids each summer, from T-ballers to 12-year-olds, disturbed relatives and sweating umpires and those good moms creation rumpled change during a break bar, all of them unresolved out during Ted’s place.

None of them, however, are there during 8 a.m. on a breathless weekday afternoon in Jun as he tries to repair a sprinkler. None of them are there when he’s mowing on a Thanksgiving morning or Christmas Day. Few of them are left when he leaves a fields each night after dim to lapse to his Covina condo, where for years he would squeeze a few hours nap before resuming his daily profitable pursuit as a construction worker.

“All year long, we demeanour out to a diamonds and there he is, Ted roving alone on that mower,” says Mike Gorski, former joining trainer and longtime joining house member. “This is his home.”

For 37 years, Ted Haller has been accompanied mostly by a song of his fields, nonetheless this open those songs were spasmodic interrupted with questions. As he has grown older, slowed down, reached a finish of his career, he has spasmodic wondered.

Can anybody else hear what he hears? Has anybody else been listening?

His list is a weed tractor. That’s where Ted Haller sits while resting in a deep-green cinderblock strew during a bottom of a towering Little League formidable behind Goddard Middle School.

There are no chairs in here. There is no computer. There is hardly any light. The room is filled with mowers, wheelbarrows, rabble cans, petrify mix, piles of tools. It smells of gasoline and creatively cut grass.

“If we don’t wish to lay on a mower, we can lay on one of those buckets,” Haller says.

He is as elementary as a tainted line. He wears an ancient salt-stained Glendora High round top in respect of his Little League graduates. In a crater hilt subsequent to his mower chair is a container of Winstons, nonetheless he never smokes around a children. Also accessible is a bottle of H2O from Stater Bros.; circuitously is a tiny fridge full of them. On his path is a weathered Tom Clancy paperback. Outside is a towering bike that he’s been roving to work — about a 30-minute trip — given he motionless he’d rather practice than repair his aging Cadillac.

He is as plain as a hulk callus prominent from a left index finger of his weathered hands.. He doesn’t text. He doesn’t have email. Few people have his phone series because, when they did, relatives would be constantly pursuit him during stormy days to scrutinise about postponements, and he couldn’t answer given he was perplexing to get a margin ready.

“My usually passion is for examination kids have a good time personification a game,” he says.

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It is a diversion he has not played given his possess girl joining days in circuitously Covina. He played high propagandize football during Charter Oak, attended  Mt. San Antonio College for a integrate of years, afterwards became a carpenter, a pursuit he hold until his retirement 4 years ago.

One open he was asked by a friend if he would manager a Glendora T-ball team. As partial of his coaching duties, he was asked to assistance contend one of a fields. Youth joining round is contingent on this arrange of volunteerism. Diamonds via a nation are confirmed mostly by parents, who work a rakes and mowers until their children grow out of a program, during that indicate they pass a groundskeeping duties to other parents.

But Ted Haller stayed. He favourite a work, he favourite being around a fad of a sport, so he solemnly stretched his duties and eventually became in assign of a whole facility. He built mounds, commissioned fields, erected scoreboards, incited a GALL trickery into a primitive round refuge.

“One of my kids told me that a reason a all-star teams always did so good is that, entrance up, a fields were so nice, they never had to worry about a bad firm or a round attack them, and for a 10-year-old kid, that’s huge,” Gorski says. “People would literally wish to pierce into a area given of a beauty of those fields.”

 He did it with a plain-spoken exterior, gallant to repremand a father who was messing adult a pitching mound, reluctant to settle for a tainted line that wasn’t perfect. But he would also warn relatives when they got it wrong, relaxing them when their child struck out, settling them when they raged during umpires.

Ted Haller stands subsequent to Glendora's Little League Hall of Fame, that is named after him.
Ted Haller stands subsequent to Glendora’s Little League Hall of Fame, that is named after him. (Brian outpost der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

He would also bellow during kids for being disrespectful. Don’t float your bike by a formidable given somebody will get hurt. Don’t lay on a cruise tables if we wouldn’t lay on your list during home. But he would also warn a kids carrying bad days, drying tears, provision giveaway snacks and instigation them to never give up.

“Everybody thinks he’s this large plain-spoken guy, tough as nails,” says Quincey Whitworth, 25, a former Little Leaguer. “But when we get to know him, he’s one of a biggest teddy bears you’ve ever met.”

Whitworth was one of Ted’s Boys, a organisation of teenage workers who were paid to assistance a proffer Haller take caring of a fields. Haller hereditary a workforce yet stretched it and increasing their duties, and currently hundreds of Glendora kids will remember this as their initial job, with Haller as their initial boss.

“He taught me to expostulate a tractor, that is something for a 15-year-old suburban Los Angeles kid,” says Nick Hall, 23, another of Ted’s boys. “He was a glue that hold a Glendora Little League together.”

He was tough, tender, and also indifferent by particular recognition. Every year, a relatives would respect Haller during a postseason function, yet he never showed up. One deteriorate many years ago they named one of a fields in his honor, even put his name on a plywood scoreboard, yet when it was time to reinstate a scoreboard with a newer electronic model, he threw a plywood in a trash, and his name is nowhere to be found. Parents also started a GALL Hall of Fame, and named it after him, yet he never discusses a plaque.

“It’s about a kids, a community, not about me, never has been,” he says.

It was always about a music, always about those sounds Haller suspicion were listened and appreciated usually by him, sounds that will be silenced after this summer when he walks out of a cinder-block strew for a final time.

He is finally timid from this pursuit that never paid him a penny. He told joining officials this winter. He says he no longer has a appetite to keep a fields during a peculiarity that meets his high standards. He’ll be left by Aug. 1, branch in his jangling ring with 35 keys, walking out of a strew with usually his cigarettes, his H2O and his Glendora High cap.

“It’s time,’’ he says. “I usually can’t keep adult with it adequate anymore.”

Ted Haller is timid after 35 years of gripping a drift during Glendora Little League fields.
Ted Haller is timid after 35 years of gripping a drift during Glendora Little League fields. (Brian outpost der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

On a Saturday in June, in respect of this retirement, a former joining central invited Haller to a private celebratory lunch. Yet when he was summoned from a strew to expostulate to a restaurant, he was instead escorted behind to a benefaction stand.

There, watchful for him, was a boisterous throng of some-more than 150 people who had grown adult on his fields. Crying kids who had turn immature adults. Stressed relatives who had turn ease mentors.  Dozens of Ted’s Boys, mowing Dads, break Moms, all collected together on a day with no diversion to respect a final measure of a lifetime.

“I couldn’t trust it,” Haller admits. “I usually couldn’t trust it.”

This wasn’t a name on a scoreboard or a plaque, it was a living, respirating covenant to a buzz of a John Deere and a swish of a sprinkler. This was a village he created. This was his ultimate reward.

As a goodbye present, he was given a 55-page scrapbook filled with typewritten letters of thanks, hardwritten records of appreciation, memories on memories pulpy between pages firm by love.

“To give all those years of your life to an classification that didn’t give him most behind solely a fun of saying kids play?” says Matt Hall, three-time joining president. “It was flattering inspirational for everybody there.”

There were cupcakes and stimulating cider and, even yet a plain-spoken groundskeeper won’t acknowledge it, witnesses contend there were tears. Haller took a book behind to his condo and spent dual hours poring over each syllable, a difference stuffing him with a sorcery of a song he had combined for so many.

Turns out, all these years, they had been listening. All this time, somebody had heard.

“My favorite people,” Ted Haller told a throng in a briefest of speeches before returning to his shed.

Twitter: @BillPlaschke

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