Elkins High names baseball field to honor legendary coach
By Michael Sudhalter
Whenever the Elkins High baseball team plays a game, fans will be reminded of the guy who built the Knights’ program a household name in Texas.
“Rick Carpenter – thank you for everything you’ve done for Elkins Baseball,” Elkins Principal Barbara Whitaker said of Rick Carpenter Field, which was dedicated before an Alumni Baseball Game last Saturday.
In 15 seasons, Carpenter led the Knights to three Class 5A State Championships and a USA Today/Baseball America National Championship in 2002 – the year he was honored as National Coach of the Year.
Along the way, he coached his son, Matt, now an All-Star infielder and a World Series Champion with the St. Louis Cardinals, and Tampa Bay Rays infielder James Loney.
But the victories and accomplishments pale when compared to the relationships that Carpenter built during his time at the Missouri City school.
“This is the most humbling, enjoyable, most appreciative, coolest thing to happen to me in the course of my 34-year career,” Carpenter said. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Carpenter – who now coaches in the North Texas town of Prosper – said Elkins students used to joke with him that he spent so much time on the field that he probably kept a cot behind the outfield wall.
“There are so many memories when you coach at one place for 15 years,” said Carpenter, who coached at La Marque and High Island before starting the Knights’ program in the early 1990s. “It’s so much fun to see all of the friends, players and parents.”
The Knights are currently coached by Tyler Porter, who played on Carpenter’s first state championship team in 1995.
“The impact he had on the kids he coached is still reverberating in Fort Bend today,” Porter said in a press release earlier this month.
Last Friday, Elkins held its annual EHS Baseball Hall of Fame Banquet in which Dan Tuskowski, Kevin Max and Duke Dykeman were honored.
TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle and former Baylor head coach Steve Smith attended the banquet and expressed the fact that “this isn’t a banquet – it’s a family reunion.”
The dedication and naming of the field was a sign that the coach was ready to mend fences with Fort Bend ISD. FBISD Athletics Director Philip O’Neal and former FBISD trustee Jenny Bailey attended the dedication.
Carpenter left Elkins for Prosper in 2007, after his wife, then-Colony Bend Elementary Principal Tammie Carpenter, was disciplined for not reporting the 22-day absence of a teacher who appeared on the reality TV show, The Bachelor.
At the time, Carpenter said he couldn’t work for a school district “whose leadership mishandled the disciplining of my wife and then lied publicly about incidents concerning it after being severely criticized by the community.”
The district has an entirely new board and a new superintendent, since 2007.