Ronnie Clanton has been treating sports fields for more than 15 years. Next year, he’ll be managing one with his name on it — literally.
A former baseball coach for Midlothian High School, Clanton has worked for the school district since 1973. The Midlothian ISD Board of Trustees recently approved naming the baseball field at the new Midlothian High School athletic complex in his honor at their July meeting.
“I’ve had a lot of my ex-players and parents congratulate me on it,” Clanton said. “I am so honored and blessed for the board thinking enough of me that this happened.”
Early in his career, Clanton coached middle school football, basketball, golf and tennis. But in his third year, Clanton took over as skipper for the Midlothian Panthers baseball program, a position he held for 18 years.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of D1 players, but we had good kids that loved the game and loved to play,” Clanton said.
Clanton and the Panthers won 236 games throughout his career, as well as played at the UIL 3A state championship in 1982. Clanton was also inducted into the MISD Athletics Hall of Honor in 2015.
Following his 20-year coaching career, Clanton taught history for another 10 years and retired. Shortly after, interim superintendent Wilburn Roesler offered him another job to stay on as the district's groundskeeper.
Since then, he’s been mowing and treating the competition fields every single weekday.
“I was taking care of three fields at the time,” Clanton said. “I was taking care of Don Floyd Stadium, the practice football field, and the baseball field.”
Clanton didn’t have a groundskeeper back when he was coaching, so he and the other coaches had to maintain the fields by themselves. He said part of the reason he accepted the groundskeeper job was to continue helping the baseball team in a small way.
“I remembered how it was when I was doing it,” he recalled. “I thought I could give the other coaches a big help by doing that for them, and they don’t have to worry about it. They can work and get practiced and organized, ready to roll. I think it’s been a big help to him and his program.”
Clanton said another part of it was being around a team again.
“I missed being around the kids,” he said. “We all pitched in and did what we had to do.”
A year ago, then-MISD Athletic Director Steve Keasler nominated that the new baseball field be named in Clanton's honor.
But while he was grateful and honored to be nominated, Clanton said he wasn’t sure about the offer at first.
“I was just one factor in building this program, and there was guys before me and two guys after me,” he said. “They were a big part of this too. Everybody’s name should be on there.”
Keasler said nominating Clanton was the right thing to do considering the 45 years he gave to MISD. Keasler added it is not often that a coach spends their entire career working for only one district.
“The truth of the matter is he deserves that,” Keasler said. “He’s been a good advocate to Midlothian Independent School District and our athletic program. I couldn’t be any happier that he’s going to have this honor for the rest of his life.”
Clanton said he’s looking forward to the field opening, with its expected completion early next year.
“This place has just exploded with the population and the number of kids in our district,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of changes. It’s just unbelievable the growth that we’ve experienced in 45 years.”
David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX