Michael Fairchild is a history buff, so he has a lot of respect for those who serve in the military. His favorite subject at Olympia High School is history, and he also studies history on his own. His favorite hobby is learning about World War II.
So when Fairchild, a junior utility player on the Bears’ 4A Narrows League champion baseball team, learned what’s behind the name of Olympia’s varsity baseball field – Crandall Field since 2003 – he wanted to do more to honor Bruce Crandall, an Olympia graduate who earned the United States’ highest military honor – the Medal of Honor. The Bears’ nonleague game with Capital at 4 p.m. today will be Bruce Crandall Day, thanks to six months of hard work by Fairchild.
“I want people to be aware of this guy,” said Fairchild, 17. “I want to tell the community about this guy who went to Olympia and has done amazing things.”
Crandall, a 1951 Olympia graduate who retired a colonel, received the Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush at the White House in 2007 for his actions during the Battle of la Drang, Vietnam in November 1965. He flew 22 missions into enemy fire and helped evacuate approximately 70 wounded soldiers.
A picture of Crandall’s UH-1 Huey helicopter is on the wikipedia.org page for the Battle of la Drang.
As a senior at Olympia, playing baseball for the late coach Chick Rockey, Crandall batted .612 and earned all-state and All-America honors. Two years later, he was drafted into the United States Army.
After learning about Crandall, Fairchild went to work to honor Crandall. Six months ago, he came up with the idea to wear camouflage uniform tops to honor Crandall – with his flight logo on the left sleeve, an American flag on the right sleeve and Crandall’s name on the back of all jerseys. He raised more than $1,200 to make it happen.
Fairchild and rest of the Bears will honor Crandall on Bruce Crandall Day with a pregame ceremony. They will wear the camouflage jerseys during the nonleague game with Capital at Crandall Field. Crandall, 79 and a Kitsap County resident, will attend.
“Michael has done a great job with it. It’s been pretty impressive,” Olympia baseball coach Todd McDougall said. “You hear ideas all the time. He stuck with it and made it all happen.”
Fairchild said he plans to help make Bruce Crandall Day an annual tradition to honor Crandall and all of those who serve the country.
“I’m really happy it’s happening,” Fairchild said. “Soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War were not credited. I feel by doing this, it will bring more public awareness and especially to Bruce Crandall. This will do that. I love the military and I really respect the military and appreciate what they do.”
Three athletes and the winningest boys basketball coach in school history will be the four newest members of Tumwater High School’s athletic hall of fame.
The inductees are the late Bill Ward, who coached basketball at Tumwater for 25 years, and athletes Larry Nielson, LeAnn (Sheets) Teeple and Tim Otton.
The dinner and auction begins at 5:30 p.m. May 12 inside Tumwater’s main gymnasium. Tickets ($25) may be purchased by calling the high school.
“It’s a great way to bring our community together,” Tumwater athletic director Tim Graham said. “It seems like a bunch of mini-reunions, which is cool to see.”
Ward was the most successful boys basketball coach in school history. He arrived at Tumwater in 1961 – when the school opened – after a successful stint as Yelm’s coach. In 1958, he led the Tornados to the Class B state title. Ward coached the Thunderbirds until 1986, and accumulated 241 of his 374 career wins.
Nielson, a 1966 graduate, was a five-sport athlete who went on to be a school record holder in track and field at Western Washington University. Legend has it that during one fall season at Tumwater, he ran 99 yards for a touchdown in the first half of a football game, ran a cross country meet at halftime and returned for the second half of the football game.
In 1983, Nielson became the first American to climb Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen.
Teeple, a 1997 graduate, set numerous school records in girls basketball and led Tumwater to its then-highest placing at state (fifth in 1997). She went on to play at the University of Washington and professionally in South Korea. She’s now Tumwater’s girls junior varsity coach.
Otton, a 1986 graduate and the son of longtime football coach Sid Otton, had a successful football career. He was the Black Hills League’s defensive player of the year in 1985, and was a two-way starter at defensive end and quarterback. He later played football at Weber State and is currently on the Tumwater coaching staff.
For the second consecutive season, Capital and North Thurston will play a nonleague baseball game at Cheney Stadium, home of the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The teams each agreed to sell 350 tickets at $15 apiece. Admission to the Capital-North Thurston game includes admission to an upcoming Rainiers game, plus a hot dog and a soft drink.
“We’re really excited for it. Those games are always fun to play at Cheney Stadium,” Capital coach Eric Stark said.
Both Capital and North Thurston are playoff bound. The Cougars earned a spot in the West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament after Tuesday’s 10-2 loser-out victory over Wilson in the first round of the 3A Narrows League tournament.
North Thurston is in fourth place in the 2A EvCo at 9-6 and one game back of Aberdeen for third. The Rams already clinched a spot in the 2A District IV tournament, which begins Tuesday.
The 2A District IV boys soccer tournament starts Saturday with four games. Two 2A Evergreen Conference teams – Tumwater and Centralia – will host first-round games Saturday. The schedule: EvCo champion Tumwater (13-0-2) vs. EvCo No. 5 seed W.F. West (4-9), 2:30 p.m. at Tumwater District Stadium; EvCo No. 2 Centralia (11-2) vs. GSHL No. 3 Mark Morris (8-5-2), 7:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium; EvCo No. 4 North Thurston (8-5) vs. GSHL champion Hockinson (12-1-2), 6 p.m. at Battle Ground Stadium; EvCo No. 3 Aberdeen (8-6) at GSHL No. 2 Washougal (11-4), 7 p.m. at Fishback Stadium.