Excerpted from 2017 story by Worthington Christian School writer Paul Batterson
Michael D. Penn, Ohio State ’72, left his mark on his personal field of dreams.
After 33 years with the baseball program, and a field that was treated better than his own, the school renamed its baseball diamond after Penn.
“Having my name on the field reminds me I played a part in helping young men like these guys out here grow up to be young fathers and hopefully good citizens and good ambassadors for the Lord.”
The renaming of the baseball field to Mike Penn Field was part of a day of homecoming festivities on August 5, 2017.
Part of Penn’s passion was reflected in how he cared for the school’s athletic fields. Many schools were impressed by the attention he showered on the Worthington Christian’s fields that they wanted to hire him away, but Penn stayed where he was even when he was no longer the head coach.
“My father taught me, if you go somewhere and you have a task, make sure you leave it better than how you found it,” Penn said. “I felt like since the fields were right next to the church, and thousands of people go by it every day. If the fields looked like a piece of trash, it would send a message: ‘These people don’t care about their stuff. If they don’t care about their venues, I wonder what their church is like.’”
Penn wanted to make baseball more than just a spring extracurricular sport but a metaphor for life.
“I think the biggest thing I wanted to do was give the boys a sense that playing quality baseball carries over into many facets of their lives,” he said. “Wins and losses come and go, but overall, it is how you play the game, how you treat opponents, and how you present your field that makes all the difference. Between the lines, you play hard and want to beat your opponent but you always treat them with respect and at the end of the day, you walk off the field as friends.”
Penn compiled a 188-149 record in 13 years as the head coach.