Glenn Cunningham began to suspect he’d been duped Tuesday when a photographer was shooting his pregame routine — of tending to the infield on a tractor.
“I mean, come on now,” Cunningham said with smile. “Something’s not right.”
Cunningham was right but with good cause.
On Tuesday, the Harker Heights head coach stood front and center before the Knights’ game against Shoemaker as he was surrounded by current and former players as well as family and friends to commemorate his 500th win.
Cunningham actually earned win No. 500 last season.
But typical of his straight and narrow approach to his job, Cunningham didn’t even notice.
“Earlier in the year, he said, ‘Well, I’d like to stick around to get my 500th win,’” Knight assistant coach Randy Culp said. “And I started thinking in my mind, ‘I bet you’ve done it already.’”
Culp began leading a research effort to find out if his inclination was right and it didn’t take long to find out that Cunningham had, in fact, already notched win No. 500.
Upon discovering the overlooked fact, it also didn’t take long to decide that a ceremony was in order to commemorate the accomplishment.
On Tuesday, that idea come to fruition. A host of former players and friends came to Heights’ field for the ceremony.
It began with former player Jerry Bark presenting Cunningham with a plaque from Mayor Rob Robinson declaring the day Glenn Cunningham Day.
It wasn’t easy for Bark to make his way to Heights that day, but the lessons Cunningham taught him on integrity and competing at all times were reason to find a way.
“I found out last week, and I will tell you that I rearranged my schedule to be here,” Bark said. “It’s that important.”
After Bark, the Class of 2013 seniors presented Cunningham with a second plaque commemorating his 500th win.Finally, Heights principal David Manley presented Cunningham with a signed baseball to conclude the ceremony.
For the former players in attendance, it was a fitting way to honor a person who has influenced many.
“He has just touched so many lives, it’s incredible,” said Culp, who played for Cunningham at Ellison. “He’s the reason I got into coaching and teaching. He’s my mentor and always has been.”
For Cunningham, the feeling was mutual.
“It was very special, very touching and I appreciate all the people that came out to be a part of that program,” Cunningham said.
And after all the suspense leading up to the ceremony, as parents and coaches kept the secret for over a week, it was a fine surprise for Cunningham before an important game.
“I didn’t know what it was,” Cunningham said, “but it was quite a ceremony and there were a lot of special people here to me.”