Marquez caps legacy in Gering Legion baseball history
     2012-08-09      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Doug Harris/Gering Citizen Father and son baseball stars Nate (left) and Tim Marquez have the unique honor of both being Class B State champs for the Gering Legion. Tim and his teammates claimed the title in 1982 and it took the Gering Senior Legion team 30 years to win it back. “It is just great to have my son on the team that recaptured the championship,” Tim said. “We’re very proud of all the players, but this is pretty special.”  
Whether it was in the summer of 1982 or just last spring, it seems like so long ago.

While sorting through some of his late father’s keepsakes awhile back, Tim ran into his 1982 Gering American Legion Post 36 baseball cap. It had a cursive G on it, but other than a few frays around the symbol, the cap had held its own through the years.

Last spring, for a project in his economics class at Gering High School, teacher and longtime coach Randy Plummer asked his students to invite their parents to share their work experiences.
Nate Marquez asked Tim to share his experiences of serving in the Army National Guard and at Aurora Loan Services. Tim said the subject of baseball came up.

“I told all the boys that I didn’t know if they had what it takes to win a state championship,” Tim said in a challenging and quipping manner.”

The words became a challenge to the current members of the Gering PVC team.

“We thought about it the whole season,” said Nate, one of seven players who had been on state-qualifying teams from the 2009 Juniors to the Class B Senior Tournament the previous two seasons. “We really didn’t discuss it, but we thought it would be neat if it happened.”

Thirty years afterward, that long-forgotten cap joined Tim Marquez on a return trip to state.
That trip was because Tim’s son, Nate, was — like his dad 30 years earlier, in Ord — the leadoff hitter for the Gering Platte Valley Companies Seniors.

“Oh really?” Nate said upon learning his dad also was his team’s leadoff hitter, via cell phone during the team’s return trip Thursday. “I knew the score was the same when he won it.”
Other than the site, the opponents and the differing Gs on their caps, Tim and Nate Marquez’s roads to state championship were pretty similar.

And they ended in the same way: with a 5-1 win over an opponent that had beaten Gering, the last undefeated team in the bracket, the previous day and brought back the same pitcher from his previous victory.

In Tim’s case, the opposition was O’Neill, which won the teams’ first meeting. Because Gering was undefeated at the time, it got a pass into the winner-take-all championship game. He could not remember the team O’Neill defeated to earn a title shot against Gering.

“I can’t really remember much about the second game,” Tim said. “I know I scored a run.”
But time can bridge history, even when a son is filling the father’s role.

And Omaha Roncalli, which stayed alive last Tuesday with a 2-1 win over PVC, returned to the championship round following a 5-2 win over Aurora late Wednesday afternoon

“And we thought, why would they bring back somebody that beat us once?” Tim said. “It was almost the same scenario.”
This time, Nate — held hitless by Roncalli pitcher Tyler Alitz on Tuesday — put Alitz’s third pitch into play, deep to shortstop Trevor Szegda for a single.

Marquez then stole second base with his team-leading 37th theft of the season, and two outs later Zach Smith drilled a hard single to score Marquez.

“(Tuesday) night he was so cocky,” Tim said of Alitz. “When you do that to a team, they are going to be pumped up. Nathan was pretty focused, and when he hit that hard shot up the middle, I felt like, here we go. Even though we got tied up, I knew we were going to win.”
When the game ended, Tim — who keeps the team’s game statistics on the GameChanger program that compiles and preserves the season stats online — said the past and the present really meshed.
“I guess when I first got on the field, I started hugging the kids and it felt really great,” Tim said.

“I don’t want to wait another 30 years to see this again. Then I found Nate and told him, ‘I love you, I am proud of you and you guys did it, together as a team.’”

The Nebraska Legion officials presented the Gering players with STATE CHAMPS shirts, which featured red screen print on white. All Tim remembers receiving for their state championship were red jackets with white lettering that represented their title.
But for their team champions photo, the 2012 Senior 36ers instead returned to their shirts of the day, which stated “This one’s for Mags,” honoring former Legion player Taylor Magdaleno who died the previous weekend. (See Final Point for more on the team’s tribute to Magdaleno.)

Tim said his dad, Tony, who died April 10 at age 76, was his influence and mentor in learning baseball, and that legacy passed into a third generation with Nate.

“He taught me a lot and got me into baseball,” Tim said of his dad, who played one year at Scottsbluff Junior College, had an offer to join the minor leagues but instead chose to marry his eventual bride of 53 years, Ruby. “He was probably one of the better players in the valley.”

And from father to son again. “He told me it took hard work and how to make it happen,” Nate said.
On Thursday morning, after having played games in five consecutive days, Nate said his reaction to having won a state title the night before had not yet sunk in as reality.

“Honestly, I thought we had another game to play,” he said. “And then I saw the medal and realized we were state champs.”
Marquez finished with a team-leading 37 stolen bases, caught stealing only four times, for a 90.2 percent success rate. His 59 runs scored led the team, as a leadoff hitter should, as did his 11 hit by pitches. His 52 hits, 41 singles, 26 walks, 180 plate appearances and on-base percentage of .494 were all second.
So, which title means more to Tim, the one he earned or the one by his son and longtime teammates?

Oh, this one,” he said. “These kids have been great over the years, have been together since they were smaller. It was just to be.”

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