When Rod Watters attended his father’s funeral last week at St. Joseph’s Catholic Chruch, he received quite the surprise; as his late father, Roger Watters of Bellevue received quite the unique send-off.
The late Watters, who coached the PeeWee All-Stars of Bellevue to the Savanna International Tournament Championship in the summer of 1975, was memorialized by 11 of the 14 original team members at the funeral.
It was a surprise to the son, who was moved by his former teammates. The group shared memories and also posed for a photo to mirror the original Herald-Leader team photo of 1975, which was taken in the back of the Riverview Hotel where the team often celebrated after games. Back then the boys were all 10 or 11 years old.
“When we won the first couple games of the tournament, we went to hotel to eat Tombstone Pizza afterwards,” recalled Bud Schroeder. “But we were told that if we won the championship game, we could go to Manny’s Pizza.”
Schroeder added that back then, the Hotel was owned by John Long’s mother, Donna (Long) Medinger. John was an original member of the team, serving as pitcher, and on the mound in that first tournament game, he allowed only four hits in pitching his team to victory, according to the original story in the Herald-Leader.
“I don’t recall the details of the games, as much as I do Coach Watters,” said Long. “He was exactly what you would expect from a coach and was a great role model. He was jovial and always had a smile on his face.”
Schroeder, who also pitched in relief for Long and vice-versa, drove in multiple runs as well as several homers during the tournament. He said Watters was a good man. “He was always smiling and positive,” said Schroeder.
Rod Watters himself slammed a two-run homer in the second game of the tournament and took to the mound in the third game, allowing only three hits to easily defeat Savanna 9-4. In the championship game, both Schroeder and Watters hit doubles to take the championship from Big Bend All Stars. The final score was 4-0.
Overall the Bellevue Pee Wee All Stars moved past 10 other little league teams from Iowa and Illinois to take first place in both states.
“Those were great times for us young kids in Bellevue, and people like Coach Roger Watters were all a part of making that happen,” concluded Schroeder. “He will be missed.”
Roger L. Watters, 73 of Bellevue, passed away on Saturday, March 9. Funeral Mass was held at March 13 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Bellevue.
Watters was born April 28, 1945 in Bellevue, the son of Martin and LaVerne (Junk) Watters. He graduated from Marquette High School and worked at John Deere in Dubuque for decades while also coaching and volunteering for the community.