When we think of involvement in the youth of our communities, we think of people who are willing to give their time to lead, we think of coaches who want to teach, we think of involvement to further a society cause, and we think of men and women who want to promote and build strong positive character. Don Langford fits all of these character categories.
Don’s involvement as a volunteer greatly exceeds the average citizen who commits to helping in the community while his or her children are involved. In 1999 Don wanted to help coach is son’s t-ball baseball team and he began what is now nearly three decades of involvement in youth baseball. Coaching in the Buhler baseball program provided years of opportunity for Don as he continued coaching baseball in the Babe Ruth Baseball program, coaching both Jr. and Sr. Babe Ruth teams. His involvement in Buhler totaled 15 years.
After Don hung up his coaching gear he continued as a league official representing Buhler on the Mid Kansas Babe Ruth League board. During Don’s 25 years on the Mid Kansas League board, he has served as town representative, league treasurer, and president. Although many board members have come and gone Don has continued to the present as the League president. Commitment and dedication to a cause has been Don’s forte. Being an advocate of character building in players has been a steadfast goal.
While involved in the Mid Kansas League as coach, Don was honored to be selected to coach several Mid Kansas League All-stars in post season play in both district and state competitions. Don was also honored to be the coach in the 2010 Kansas Classic in Mulvane and selected to manage a Classic team in Council Grove in 2017.
Don’s passion for youth baseball was apparent to many in the Central Kansas area as he served as District Four assistant commissioner in 2011. State Commissioner, Bob Willis witnessed Don’s commitment to the Kansas program and in 2012 Don was appointed as District Commissioner for district four. “Without a doubt,” Bob said, “I saw Don give of his time to help run our program even in areas beyond his duties as an assistant district commissioner. I saw how he worked with players, coaches, and tournament officials and I knew he would be the individual we needed to lead district four.”
Individuals who coached with Don both locally and on all-star teams say that Don has great knowledge of the game and his coaching style of calmness, fairness, and emphasis on building character was always evident. His teams were well coached, they played hard to the very end, and his players showed respect toward coaches, teammates, opponents, and game officials all while having great fun playing the game.
As District Commissioner, Don tries to be in attendance at as many games and tournaments as possible and not only watch the games but visit with players, coaches, game officials, and parents. This gives him a better perspective as to how to structure his involvement. One unique component that Don incorporates into his district tournaments is to have younger children come onto the playing field at the conclusion of games to help him congratulate and hand out game awards.
Don and his wife, Tamara, have three children; Linsey, Zach, and Dalton. They have three grandchildren. Besides his involvement with spoiling his grandchildren, Don enjoys hunting and gardening. He enjoys visiting his family so their travels to be with family take them to Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois.
The Kansas Department of Corrections has benefited from Don’s commitment. Don’s entire career has been with this department as he has worked with them for over 32 years. He started his work at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility, then on to the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility and is currently employed as the Warden at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility. During his career he has been honored to serve on several community college’s Criminal Advisory Boards.
The Kansas Babe Ruth Hall of Fame is reserved for individuals like Don, who display great personal strength, honesty, integrity, tireless devotion, enthusiasm, a love for the game and put the interests of others first. For these reasons it is with great pride and pleasure that Kansas Babe Ruth Leagues award the coveted Kansas Babe Ruth Hall of Fame Award to one of its own. Honoring men and women for their service in the Kansas Babe Ruth Kansas Babe Ruth Hall of Fame now includes the name of Don Langford.