Bluffton honors beloved baseball manager Sam 'Boise' Bennett on Sunday

May 21, 2010 

Bluffton Mayor Pro-Tem Fred Hamilton remembers playing left field and second base for the Bluffton Eagles baseball team in the years after Sam "Boise" Bennett retired as manager.

Because Bennett coached the team from the 1970s to the 1990s, he was still regarded by players as the team's figurehead, Hamilton said.

Bennett would sit in the dugout during games, something Hamilton said the players enjoyed -- unless the Eagles ended up on the wrong end of the outcome.

"He hated to lose," he said. "That would probably be the only time you'd hear him complain about anything, if you lost a game that you should have won.

"We still held onto that title, that he was the manager of the team," Hamilton said.

The town of Bluffton will honor Bennett's contributions tomorrow when it proclaims the first annual Sam "Boise" Bennett Day at the Sam Bennett Sports Complex on Buck Island Road.

The ceremony, which starts at 3 p.m., will feature a tree planting and a softball game played between two area recreational teams.

Born in Bluffton in 1923, Bennett played for at least two area teams.

In the 1960s, two local teams merged to form the Eagles, and Bennett became their first manager.

Hamilton said the Eagles' weekly baseball games were for many years one of the few community-wide gatherings in Bluffton.

"It was a little one-horse town," he said. "There wasn't anything that would give entertainment that would draw friends and families that they would all have a common interest in."

In 2002, the 14-acre Eagles Field was renamed The Sam Bennett Sports Complex in honor of Bennett.

He died March 14 at the age of 87 of natural causes.

"I just admired the man, he was someone that you look up to," Hamilton said. "He was a great family man and he was a great community role model."

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