Melvindale dedicates baseball field to former long-time coach

Photo by Daniel Gretzner
Former long-time Melvindale baseball head coach Gary Szalka addresses the crowd at the field dedication ceremony May 28.

May 28 was a very special day for former long-time Melvindale baseball head coach Gary Szalka. In a tribute to his many years of coaching at the school, the varsity baseball diamond was named in his honor.

The new scoreboard at Melvindale now reads. “Gary Szalka Field.”

Szalka was introduced to fans prior to the Melvindale-Lincoln Park contest. He expressed his appreciation during the well-attended field dedication.

“I feel greatly honored to have the varsity field named after me,” he told the crowd. “I thank all my coaches and players here at Melvindale for their support over the years I was at the school.”

Szalka began his high school coaching career in 1970, after graduating from Central Michigan University, where he played varsity football and baseball. The Downriver prep mentor spent 37 years in the coaching ranks for the Cardinals.

League titles were no stranger to Szalka, who accumulated a total of eight league championships as skipper of the Melvindale diamondmen. He is a member of the Melvindale Sports Hall Of Fame.

Szalka now lives in Woodhaven and is an assistant to hs son Todd, who is head coach at Trenton High School. While in high school at Lincoln Park, Szalka excelled in baseball, football and basketball.

Head coach Merle Shepard and his Melvindale Cardinals baseball squad, hosted a Division 2 district tournament over the weekend. Divine Child were scheduled to take on Dearborn Heights Annapolis in one district semifinal, the host Cardinals were to face Detroit Cesar Chavez in the other.

Shepard, now in his eighth season as Melvindale coach, hoped his Cardinals could make a good showing during districts.

The Downriver school went 11-16 during the regular season but was looking for another district title to go with its 2012 trophy.

“We think we have a good shot to win our district,” Shepard said last week. “We expect heavy competition from Divine Child in the finals.”