Danny Cochran had two loves in his life - his family and baseball. And the two were intimately intertwined.
For over 20 years Cochran was a fixture at the Pinckneyville Parks baseball fields, first as a father and baseball coach for his two sons, Jeremy and Joey, then later just because baseball was a part of who he was.
He served in numerous volunteer capacities, including baseball commissioner, head of maintenance and as an umpire. He was a mainstay at the park said Bert Nasuti, former Gwinnett County District 2 Commissioner, who also worked along side of Cochran as a baseball coach.
"If you pulled into the park and saw a red truck, you knew Danny was here," recalled Nasuti fondly.
But last summer at the still young-age-of 59, he passed away suddenly leaving his wife, Wanda, sons, Jeremy (now 29) and Joey (now 16) - and leaving a huge void in Pinckneyville Park baseball.
At Cochran's memorial service last year Nasuti along with baseball president Joe Shine, and a few others came up with a plan to dedicate the pavilion in Danny's name. They followed through and on Saturday, March 10, 2012, a plaque was dedicated in memory of Cochran and his long-standing volunteer work with the Pinckneyville community youth baseball.
It was only fitting that the date chosen for the dedication was opening day for the 2012 baseball season - and ironically it was the day before what would have been his 60th birthday.
"I think it's wonderful," said Wanda Cochran before the dedication. "I think he would have been humbled by it and probably would think he didn't deserve it," she added softly.
There were plenty of folks around for the dedication that would certainly argue that Cochran more than deserved the recognition for his many years as a volunteer.
"He was a great asset," said Wayne Sutor, who served as the baseball commissioner for six years. "He was always trying to make the park a better place for everyone."
A contractor by trade, Cochran was instrumental in getting batting cages built. "He was a perfectionist," remembered Nasuti. "He did the bid-outs, priced out the project and oversaw the work."
While volunteering as head of maintenance, he had the job of making sure everything was in working order said Nasuti. "That is the volunteer who fixes everything the county won't fix," said Nasuti.
This year, baseball is back in season, albeit without its longtime supporter. But Cochran will always be remembered by those who knew and worked along side of him.
For those who never had the honor of knowing the man that made such an impact on his family - and Pinckneyville baseball, take a few moments and visit the ball fields that he loved and take time to read the silver-colored metal plaque mounted at the pavilion at the top of the hill that overlooks the ball fields in his honor.
The plaque reads: "In memory of Danny Cochran, a devoted board member, coach, umpire and friend who made Pinckneyville Park a better place, we dedicate this pavilion in his memory on March 10, 2012."