by Scott Kindberg
September 12, 1997
Diethrick Surprised Jamestown Stadium Bears His Name
When College Stadium was renamed Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park in August, the most surprised person was none other than Diethrick himself.
As the announcement was made, he took off his glasses and wiped tears from his eyes.
Then he stepped to the microphone and attempted to deflect the attention to others.
For it is that humble style that has characterized Diethrick during his almost 40 years of service to Jamestown. Whether it be his role as city parks and recreation director, his work with senor citizens or his long-time association with Babe Ruth Baseball, Diethrick prefers to step back and let others receive the recognition.
But there's no one better at rallying the troops.
And that's probably why Diethrick has been able to contribute so much for so long. When he enlists someone's help, they can't wait to hop aboard. They know they'll be able to make significant contributions, including important decision-making, because Diethrick doesn't require the final word. He may offer some suggestions, but he trusts the people he works with to fulfill their responsibilities.
"If he asks, 'Can you do this?' you don't say no," said Chuck Norris, a Babe Ruth World Series Committee board member. "He always makes you feel important, no matter how small the job is."
It is no coincidence, therefore, that the volunteers on the World Series Committee number in the hundreds. Diethrick makes it enjoyable to be part of such a group.
"He does not interfere with anything," Norris said. "He's got key people and he lets them do their jobs. He never wants the recognition."
Diethrick says such teamwork comes from being left-handed.
"I found out early that a left-hander can only do certain things in a baseball game," he said. "You can play outfield, pitch and play first base, but you can't do the rest. If you're going to have a successful team, you have to leave it to a lot of other people to do that. You can't be the superstar at every position. You really need to put a team together."
Not surprisingly, the team that has worked to bring the Babe Ruth World Series to Jamestown over the past two decades remains intact. Credit Diethrick, who has been host president for seven of the nine tournaments.
But Diethrick doesn't want to hear it.
"I can't put together a parade. I can't put all the kids in host families. I can't sell all the advertising. I can't do all the things that are necessary down at the stadium," he insisted. "This is a team effort. I'm really only a point man for the results of a lot of people."
Still, his contributions to Chautauqua County have not gone unnoticed as he has been honored countless times, most recently by the Babe Ruth League board of directors, who inducted him into their hall of fame, the same day the stadium was renamed.
"When they get in front of the board, the credentials have to be there," Babe Ruth League commissioner Robert Faherty said. " They have to know that this person has given up so much to do it. That's Russ to a tee. He's touched us in so many ways."
"Usually there's a lot of discussion and people give input. It was a done deal."
Even though Diethrick is among some select company, he has never lost sight of the people from the community he calls home.
"He always takes time to talk to you, no matter what it might be," Norris said. "He always stops and makes sure he recognizes you and talks to you. He makes you feel important. And you always remember that."
"You can talk to him and he listens. There aren't too many people who have good ears."
Good ears, warm heart, caring soul. Diethrick possesses them all.
Jamestown attorney Charles DeAngelo probably best described the 62-year-old Diethick when he wrote the following note on the day the latter was selected to the Babe Ruth Hall of Fame.
"Russ Diethrick - our shining example of integrity, perseverance, and commitment to serving others. Babe Ruth Baseball is recognizing what we in Jamestown have always loved - our Russ Diethrick."
The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.