ANSONIA — The Ansonia Lady Tigers Softball field was renamed and dedicated Wednesday evening in memory of Jack “Poppa Tiger” Amspaugh.
Ansonia Athletic Boosters made this dedication possible and it took place between innings of the Ansonia-National Trail game.
“It was almost a year to this day that Jack ‘Poppa Tiger’ Amspaugh passed away,” a spokesperson said. “Upon his passing the Ansonia Athletic Boosters felt that Poppa Tiger should be remembered in a special way by naming the girls softball field the Jack ‘Poppa Tiger’ Amspaugh Memorial Field. Poppa Tiger was a big supporter of the Ansonia Athletic Boosters and Ansonia athletics. He was in attendance at most of the athletic events, boys’ and girls’ alike. You could pick him out of the crowd as he always wore his Poppa Tiger spirit wear. In his later years, he could be seen driving his little orange Poppa Tiger mobile. When the girls softball team went to the State Final Four in 2009, Poppa Tiger drove the first car in the caravan behind the bus. In the 2012 Ansonia yearbook a whole page was dedicated to him. It thanked him for helping build the new bell tower, placing the tiger medallion over the grand foyer doors and redoing the Lady Tigers softball dugout. He was a very dedicated Ansonia Tiger fan many a time sitting out in freezing weather to watch ballgames. He could also be seen sitting in his usual seat at the top of bleachers at the basketball games. Poppa Tiger was very proud to be a member of the first organized football team at Ansonia in 1949. He recalled the 1949 season by saying, ‘We played Minster twice. They beat us the first game but the second game we kicked their butts.’ He graduated from Ansonia High School in 1950 and married his high school sweetheart, Patricia Whittington [who died in 2002], who was an Ansonia cheerleader. They resided in Ansonia where they raised their three children. Poppa Tiger will always be one in a million and one of Ansonia’s most spirited fans but mostly we will remember his warm smile and the love he had for all the kids at Ansonia.”
Amspaugh was one of the founders of and the first Athletic Boosters president, with other officers being Clarence Kammer, vice president; Mary Knick, treasurer; and Phil Shiverdecker, board member.
Athletic Boosters President Amanda Fischer remarked, “The Ansonia Athletic Boosters would like to thank the Jack ‘Poppa Tiger’ Amspaugh family; the Ansonia School Board: Clancy Kammer, Eugene Mayo, Rhonda Williams, Joey Schmitmeyer and Ronnie Barga; Superintendent Jim Atchley; High School Principal Steve Garman; Athletic Director Matt Lacy; Girls softball coaches Floyd Jenkins and Kyle Homan; Edwin Nichol Monument; Linda Moody from The Daily Advocate; Allan and Shirley Phillippi for the monument cover; and last, but not least, the numerous anonymous financial donors.”
Family members there to unveil the moment were Amspaugh’s son Larry; grandchildren, April Billenstein [daughter of Amspaugh’s deceased son David] and Jeremy Boerger [representing his mother Susan, daughter of Amspaugh, who was unable to attend]; and great-granddaughter Peyton Billenstein. Also there were as April’s husband Steve and son Levi.
Amspaugh’s wife died in 2002.
The monument reads: “Jack “Poppa Tiger” Amspaugh Aug. 13, 1931-March 24, 2016”
“He was very involved with his Ansonia community over the years, but was best known as Poppa Tiger because of his involvement in the sports programs at Ansonia High School, especially the girls softball team, attending all games, home and away. ‘The kids here at school put that name on me. [he had said.] ‘They told me I was like their Poppa. It wasn’t like my dad or grandpa, but it was Poppa and it stuck. I love kids and I love Ansonia Tigers sports and that’s what drives me to come and watch all the games. I’ve very proud of our teams, not just one, but all of them. As long as I can get there. I will be coming to watch my Tigers.”
“He’s all about orange and black and nothing else will do” also appeared on the monument.
This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.