If you live in Fort Collins, you know the name Troxell. But you may never have met Harry, or Tiger as his family calls him. He is the older brother of City councilman Wade Troxell and son of Harry Troxell, Jr., who was also a councilman. Sadly, Harry died unexpectedly on March 21 while tending his garden.
I met Harry Troxell in 2011 when I was helping the Fort Collins Baseball Club plan their 50th anniversary celebration. I was interviewing the “old timers” and gathering their photos and memorabilia for an anniversary video and history display. I was told that Harry had been involved in the club from his youth.
We met at Bean Cycle, and I recognized him the moment I walked in because he looked so much like his brother. Harry had brought along a box of baseball memorabilia to show me, so I knew right away it would be a good interview. This photo of the 1958 Gremlins is most definitely my favorite sandlot baseball photo of all time! Harry is the boy on the left with his hand on his forehead.
The club, then known as Fort Collins Youth Baseball, was founded in 1961, just a few years after this photo was taken. By then, Harry was 13 years old and was helping his dad Harry Jr. coach the younger kids. Both Harry and Wade have fond memories of those years, playing baseball with their friends. It was an all-volunteer organization and kids played simply for the love of the game. Parents managed everything from fundraising to mowing the fields.
Harry really lit up when talking about his son, Craig. He coached him all the way from T-ball until he made the high school varsity team at Poudre. Together, they traveled to tournaments around Colorado and to other states. Harry had saved every uniform Craig had ever worn, including hats and cleats.
Harry told me that some of the best times of his life were coaching the neighborhood kids, saying “they may not have been the best athletes, but I really enjoyed watching each one of them improve.” He confessed that he was so crazy about baseball, he even “risked his career” by leaving work early to get to practice. He wanted the kids to remember their team experience too, so at the end of the season each of them received a signed baseball on a special stand Harry made himself.
Whenever I would drop by Harry’s house to borrow an item or return another, he was out tending his garden and we would always stop to admire a flower or tree. He was part of a community sharing a love of baseball across generations, as players, coaches, and parents. Harry was a kind and gentle soul who stood as a reminder to us all for the things that are most important in life. Rest in peace, Tiger.
Harry Troxell’s memorial service will be held on Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 3:30PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Details can be found on his memorial page.