Lonnie Loveday Field monument unveiled for family and friends

Image: Loveday honored — Lonney Loveday (seated) with Shirley Whitman (his daughter), Mayor Darrell Simmons and former mayors Kent F. Ward, Chad E. Downs, and Robert Chambers.

Loveday honored — Lonney Loveday (seated) with Shirley Whitman (his daughter), Mayor Darrell Simmons and former mayors Kent F. Ward, Chad E. Downs, and Robert Chambers. (Dave South)

The rain could not delay this game as over one hundred family and friends of Lonnie Loveday gathered in the youth center to honor him. Known for his years of service to Smithfield youth, the baseball field behind the youth center was officially named the Lonnie Loveday Field.

Loveday lived a remarkable life, former mayor Robert Chambers told the large crowd Wednesday evening. After high school Lonnie was drafted into the Navy. He served on the USS Enterprise — the most decorated ship of World War II. After the war he returned to Cache valley and finished a degree in education at USU. He married Vernetta Jensen in 1949 and together they have five children, 31 grandchildren and 46 great-grandchildren.

He’s served in numerous church callings, as a city councilman, and even the Smithfield Mayor. But this day he was being honored for his years of teaching the youth of Smithfield about baseball. For 21 years Lonnie Loveday served as the Smithfield Recreation Director. He started the Grasshopper League where any child could come and learn to play baseball. Loveday hand pitched to every child.

“There wasn’t a strike out,” said former mayor Kent Ward. “He’d pitch to them until they hit the ball. Sometimes the kid would be so excited they would run for first and then, about halfway, slide far short of the base. Others would hit the ball and run to their mom to tell her about it.”

“He knew every one of these kid’s names,” Ward continued. “He’d call them all by name when they came to bat.”

Smithfield’s most recent mayor, Chad Downs, had called around to talk to citizens about Lonnie Loveday and what they remembered about him.

  • “He had to have eyes in the back of his head to keep track of all those children.”
  • “The baseball field looked more like an ant hill.”
  • “He seemed to make up the rules as the games progressed.”
  • “Extra swings were allowed.”
  • “If you didn’t touch the base, Lonnie would say it was okay, that was close enough.”

“You are a Smithfield treasure,” said Downs expressing his own feelings. “A friend, role model, mentor and a leader.”

Loveday’s daughter, Shirley Whitman, stood before the crowd in a Blue Sox jersey and cap and lead the crowd through a special version of Take Me Out To The Ballgame. She would read a verse about the life of her father that she had composed then great-grandchildren around her and the whole crowd would sing the chorus.

Mayor Darrell Simmons then talked about the legacy of Lonnie Loveday as something we should all endeavor to follow.

Simmons then read the proclamation designating the field behind the youth center as the Lonnie Loveday Field.

WHEREAS, from 1967 to 1988 Lonnie Loveday served as the Smithfield Recreation Director; and

WHEREAS, his love and concern for the youth of the community was exemplified by his dedicated effort to create a recreational program that touched the lives of all children regardless of their individual abilities; and

WHEREAS, he recognized the importance of establishing and promoting organized meaningful activities to fill the summer days for the youth while building their self confidence and self esteem; and

WHEREAS, his faithful dedicated service has resulted in countless memories cherished by those children who have now grown into productive and healthy adults as a result of his influence.

NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved, I Chad Downs, Mayor of Smithfield, do hereby extend our deepest appreciation to Lonnie Loveday for his dedicated service to the youth of the City of Smithfield and declare the recreational field where he spent so many of his hours of service to be known from this day forward as Lonnie Loveday Field in recognition of the influence one man can have on the lives of so many others.

DATED this 11th day of November, 2009

Signed Chad E. Downs, Mayor

By now the rain had almost stopped and everyone made their way outside. There Loveday and four of his children — Jeff Loveday, Lonetta Brady, Nancy Smith, and Katy Stokes — pulled back the black tarp to reveal a beautiful monument complete with a plaque in Loveday’s name. A reminder in stone of a life’s work of love and sacrifice for children.