Columbiana youth baseball league honors Cofer, Jones

David Cofer wasn’t able to coach his son Kyle on opening day for the 2010 Columbiana youth baseball season March 6.

Cofer, who passed away suddenly at age 48 from aortic dissection Nov. 22, 2009, missed opening day for the first time in 17 years.

Instead, Cofer had the best seat in the park on a special day for his wife, Beverly, and sons, Dave, Chuck and Kyle.

The city of Columbiana honored Cofer by naming the main field at the Columbiana Sports Plex after him and held a special ceremony in celebration of naming David Cofer Field.

Beverly said Cofer would have had a smile on his face seeing all of the youth baseball players dressed in their playing uniforms for jamboree games on opening day on a sunny afternoon.

“He would have been proud,” Beverly said. “He loved just being out here with all of these kids.”

The Columbiana City Council passed a resolution in February to name the field after Cofer, a longtime coach and umpire for the Columbiana Dixie Youth Baseball league. The Council also passed a resolution to dedicate the 2010 season to John Jones, a longtime supporter of Columbiana youth who passed away after suffering a massive heart attack Nov. 27, 2009.

Columbiana Dixie Youth Baseball President Chris Blythe said the CDYB board approached the Council about honoring Cofer and Jones. After the resolution passed, Blythe said the board worked tirelessly to have the fields ready for the ceremony on opening day.

“We were glad to see the Council get it done,” Blythe said. “We were out here until 11:30 last night and back at 7 this morning to get these fields ready. I don’t think you could have picked a prettier day to do it on. We’ve all had a good time today.”

Cofer, who was an all-state baseball player at Thompson High School when he graduated in 1980, moved to Columbiana with his wife in 1983. Cofer began coaching his oldest son Dave in 1993 and served as a coach and umpire for the youth league until his death.

Cofer was also an assistant coach for the Shelby County High School baseball team.

“He never stopped coaching,” Beverly said. “He loved it.”

David’s passion for baseball was passed down to their sons, Beverly said. On opening day, the Cofer’s youngest son Kyle, 12, played on a team with Dave, 22, serving as an assistant coach. Chuck, 21, has been at every team practice, Beverly said.

Kyle even threw the ceremonial opening day pitch to older brother Chuck, Beverly said.

The 2010 season will especially be memorable for Kyle, who plays for the Columbiana Middle School baseball team. Columbiana Middle will play all of its home games on David Cofer Field. Kyle will join his youth team after the middle school season ends and continue to play on the field with his father’s name hanging over the center field fence.

Beverly said her family will never forget opening day 2010.

“It means so much to us,” Beverly said. “He loved baseball and he loved living here in Columbiana.”