With several of his family members in attendance, Roy A. Overholt was remembered with the dedication of a plaque in his honor on July 11. Overholt, who passed away December 8, 2013, spent over 50 years of his life volunteering for youth baseball particularly in the Brookfield area.
Overholt touched countless lives with his personality and sense of humor and was revered around Brookfield as a local celebrity, valued friend, role model and baseball fanatic.
Marty Berek, who coached the Brookfield Flaming Red Hot Cheetos at Overholt in 2009, summed up the tournament founder’s impact through the traditional late-summer event.
“Mr. Overholt is a legend when you’re talking about baseball in Brookfield,” Marty Berek said. “He was always very involved with the tournament and set it to such a high standard.”
Berek’s son, Connor, played on Brookfield’s 2009 team at the Overholt tourney. He’s now a promising junior pitcher on the Riverside-Brookfield High School baseball team.
“Playing in the Overholt was definitely a thrill and cool experience,” Connor Berek said. “I’ll always remember the excitement of playing in that tournament.”
Chris Agne, president of the Riverside-Brookfield High School Booster Club, fondly remembers playing in the event as a member of South Cicero’s 1973 and 1974 teams.
“I remember going to Overholt was like playing in the big leagues,” said Agne, whose son Justin was the starting catcher for the RBHS baseball team in the spring. “I remember the chance to play at night, brick dugouts, Kiwanis Park — those were the incentives to win the respective league you were in. If there ever was a local field of dreams, it’s without question the Roy Overholt Tournament Field at Kiwanis Park.”
With the support of his wife, Audrey, Overholt began the Brookfield-based tournament in 1963. He invited championship teams from area youth baseball leagues to participate in the event. The Roy A. Overholt Invitational Tournament, often referred to as, the “World Series of District 9,” celebrated its 50th anniversary last summer.
The tournament’s timeless, unique appeal included its meticulous field, pennant flags strewn along the outfield wall and ceremonial player introductions. With his home located directly across the street, Overholt faithfully took care of the field named in his honor at Kiwanis Park.
“Roy really made the tournament special,” said Jim Bednar, former president of Brookfield Little League. “He told me how surprised he was the tournament took off like it did. But because we were the only tournament with lights, initially, plus a great field, everybody wanted to play here.”
Overholt’s motivation was simple. He wanted to host a unique baseball tournament that kids would enjoy and remember the rest of their lives.
“The tournament is really for the kids,” he said during an interview at his home. “It keeps them out of trouble and gives them something to strive for as a team. I’ve coached [in the tournament] in the past, and I didn’t want it to end any more than the kids.”
Nancy Nobile, Overholt’s daughter, certainly appreciates the passion her parents shared for local youth baseball.
“He did a lot for baseball and every day he would head over to work on the [Kiwanis Park] field,” Nobile recalled. “He had opportunities to be involved with local government, but I think he preferred spending time encouraging and helping kids. He was a very honest, quiet and caring man who didn’t like arguments or conflict. My mother also loved baseball so they were the perfect couple.”
Overholt, who was born on May 1, 1924 in the Hollywood section of Brookfield, graduated from Riverside-Brookfield High School in 1942. After high school, he joined the Armed Forces and served with the 74th United States Army, 63rd Division in Europe until 1945. After returning home, he married his wife, Audrey, in 1945 and the couple eventually moved back to Brookfield in 1961. The soft-spoken Overholt plied his trade as an electrician (and the first employee) of the Lyons Electric Company, where he was the Superintendent until his retirement in 1986. His passion in life — in addition to his love for Audrey and their five children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren — was always baseball.
“That’s what makes the tournament so special,” Audrey Overholt said. “These kids are so impressionable at 11 and 12. You can see their eyes light up when they play in such a special tournament and when they saw Roy, too. We miss Roy very much, but I’m sure he’ll always be watching over the tournament.”