It's impossible to have a collection of information about Pond Athletic Association as we have here on this website without sharing information about Glen Herbst. Glen is a park legend, donating countless hours of time to the park and West County youth baseball and softball over his lifetime.
Glen was born December 26, 1948 in Bonne Terre Missouri and grew up in Flat River Missouri with parents Earl and Irene Herbst and older sister Mary Mabery.
Glen graduated from Flat River High School where he played basketball, baseball, football (nick name was “the Rattler”) and he also ran track. He graduated from Mineral College, Flat River, now Park Hill – and had received the first baseball scholarship awarded.
After Glen graduated from college, he went to work in engineering for Western Electric. During that time, he was drafted into the Army and was deployed to Vietnam. After serving his country he returned to his job at Western Electric, which later became AT&T, then years later became Lucent Technology. He retired in 1998.
Glen played men’s softball with co-workers, the Paragons, and travel to Detroit, Michigan and Baltimore, Maryland as well as local regional to compete with team from all over the US.
In 1973, Glen met Judy and they married in 1975 at Bee Tree Park, overlooking the Mississippi River. They lived in Ballwin and attended Ballwin Baptist Church. Glen jumped right in as a father for Judy’s two children Lora and Todd. Although difficult, he learned not to drink all the milk with his mid night snacks, so the kids would have milk for breakfast.
Glen loved Judy's children and spent many hours teaching Todd how to play baseball and help with taking Lora to piano lessons and modeling class as she became a teenager. He even helped with her various beauty pageants.
In 1978 Glen and Judy built their home in St. Louis County, in a new subdivision called Hawks Rest, Glen loved the idea of living in the country, but that didn’t last long, the community was soon incorporated into Wildwood.
In 1980 Daughter Dionna was born, she came home from the hospital on Mother’s Day, as they were leaving were interviewed by Channel 2. Glen was so excited that all 3 Herbst were on the Fox news that night. On the way home from the hospital they stopped at Pond Athletic Association to see Todd play his game. Glen never wanted to miss Todd or Dionna's games of baseball and softball. Glen and his friend, John Hoekstra, was the coach of Todd’s team from 1978 through 1989. He enjoyed teaching Todd the game, sent him to camps and took him to batting cages to give him the opportunity to develop his best skills. Glen spent countless hours teaching Dionna how to play ball and coached her from training league until high school. Like Todd he used his own skills to teach Dionna, then seek training in every area to make sure she had excellent skills to play for the Lafayette Lancers. Which he accomplished, which was his greatest dream. She played softball at Lafayette all 4 years and went to state her senior year. The event was on the same day of Lafayette’s home coming, after winning the Championship in Columbia he “quickly” drove back to Lafayette. When we arrived the baseball team came out and greeted the vans of Softball players and carried each player on their shoulder on to the stage while the song “We are the Champions” was being played by the band. Glen was so touched he often said it was the best day of his life. Dionna went on to play softball at Westminster College, with Glen in attendance at virtually every game.
Glen was very patriotic and loved the American Flag. He was very proud of his grandson, Ryan for his service in the Army. He just returned from a one-year deployment in Guantanamo Bay. On Ryan’s return in August, he presented Glen (Popa Glen) with a folded flag that flew over the Guantanamo Bay for a length of time, just for Glen. Everything that his kids, grandkids, great grandkids accomplished he celebrated and encouraged.
Glen bought baseball cards for kids for Christmas every year as a tradition. Glen collected baseball hats, and he had many cases. He also collected baseball and softball pins with Dionna for many years.
Glen loved music , he always listened to his iPhone playlist, singing along or whistling. He always said when he got old , just put me in a home with my iPhone and music and I would be happy. He loved collecting Christmas ornaments especially Kentucky Wildcat basketball ornaments.
He donated every month to DAV-Veterans, St. Jude Hospital, Wounded Warriors, Boys Town, Police, and Firemen and St. Louis Family Church.
He was a Cardinal fan; he had a relationship with Mike Matheny and watched David Freese grow up at Pond Ballpark.
He loves to encourage kids at Pond Ballpark, he dedicated his life to the organization and treated it as if it was his own property, he created and managed BINGO as a weekly fundraiser for Pond Athletic Association for 15 years. He was at the park almost every day repairing picnic tables, fences, painting , blowing off the pavilion, power washing the patio, to make sure it was prepared for game time. He and his friend John Hoekstra planted and watered trees 30 years ago to beautify the park as you see it today.
Glen would sit on the bench and watch games on field #2 (now named in his honor), whether he knew anyone playing or not. He just loved watching the kids compete!
You will see signs of "Play for Glen" throughout the Park, and Pond AA and those that volunteer and work there carry out the love of the game in his honor every year!
The message I was hoping wouldn't appear on my phone had appeared.
After umpiring for two years and the ball fields becoming my second home the people around me had become family. We cared about each other and were always there for anyone who needed us. You could find a concession stand worker chalking lines because the grounds crew was running behind schedule. An umpire might be in the concessions cooking up burgers when a worker was home sick. Everyone had so much respect for each other.
Everyone had a great love and appreciation for Glen. Glen was the guy who knew everyone and cared for everyone as a child of his own. You would find him on fields helping set fields or a pitching machine, cooking in the concessions, or sitting on the bench against the concessions facing field 2. That was "his" bench. The first place you looked when you needed him. He would sit and watch any age game and get so into it ,that if you said his name he wouldn't even turn his head.
I was working at the fields one day with Grayson. Grayson is like a big brother to me. We have created such an amazing brotherly relationship with each other and we have so much fun working together. The 4 wheeler had run out gas and he was going to push me in the gator back to the other side of the park. We texted Dionna, the lady in charge of the grounds crew, to see if her dad, Glen, could come up and bring some gas. She responded with, "He's in the hospital right now. He had a mini-stroke. He is ok, and should be coming home today." Grayson and I were shocked! We had seen Glen a few days before, and he had seemed happy and healthy. Little did we know this was only the beginning.
We continued to work almost daily, but we would never see Glen. This was extremely strange because he loved the fields! Especially when no one was up there. He just watched the subtle movements of the dirt. I thought to myself "maybe it's too hot?" It was the middle of August so it made sense. I continued to check in with Dionna and it seemed he was improving. This put my mind to ease as I reported it to Grayson.
In late August it was time for school. Covid-19 had destroyed the opportunity to have any more games, so the fields didn't need maintenance. Grayson went to college, and I started my school schedule. Up at 6. School. Homework. Shower. Sleep. Repeat. There was no time for work. There was no money to pay us. There was no work needing to be done.
Today work began again! I received a text from Dionna saying we could begin working on the fields! I was super excited to see the fields and talk with everyone again. I wanted to see and hear how Glen was feeling. See Fabio and Eric who run the concessions. I was excited to begin working again and to see my second family.
After arriving back at the fields I looked everywhere for Glen. I wanted to check on him so bad! I texted Dionna to make sure everything was ok but what she responded with was not what I was hoping.
I messaged her saying, "I keep meaning to ask! How is Glen after his mini stroke scare?"
She responded after a few hours saying "oh goodness, he's had 2 more! It's been scary, but he's hanging in there. Thanks for asking!"
My stomach dropped. I was worried for him. I was worried for the fields. I was worried for his wife and daughter, his grandchildren. Glen was one of the strongest men I knew. He would fight this. I was confident he would.
In September, if I wasn't playing I was at work finding something to fix. I practiced Monday and Wednesday, and worked all the other hours of the week. One day I was leaving racquetball as I checked my phone. I saw there were about 7 messages from the Grounds Crew GroupMe chat. I didn't think much of it. There was probably a question asked and it was being conversed and answered. I waited to check it until I was in the car.
"Hey everyone, I know some of you got to know my dad this year and knew he was battling cancer and suffered from several mini strokes. He's been in the hospital since Sunday night and had another catastrophic brain event last night. We lost him this morning. He was proud of how well you all were doing your grounds crew jobs this year and enjoyed getting to know you all." I'll likely be out of pocket over the next week."- GroupMe Message 9/ 23/ 2020
My eyes filled with tears, my stomach turned, and I lost the ability to speak. I was in shock. I continued to read and reread the message. It couldn't be real! I wouldn't believe that it was true! This man was like a grandfather to me. I gasped for air as I received a call from Marigrace who had also known Glen. She was talking but as she talked I began to get dizzy. I had my whole family in the car. I just had to keep it together. No one else knew what I was just told about. No one in that car would understand what I was feeling. No one had known him on the level I did.
When we arrived home I couldn't control the tears as I ran up the stairs faster than I ever had before. I was broken. I felt so many things at once. I was worried, concerned, upset, downhearted. My stomach cramped as I curled into my bed and wept. I felt horrible for his whole family. He had grandchildren who wouldn't be able to bring him to Grandparents Day. His wife was now a widow. His daughters were without their father. Pond Athletic Association was without its foundational rock. We were without our loved one. Everything was gone. We couldn't get it back.
As I laid in bed all I could think about were the many things that would be different without him..
He's really gone.
I will never see him driving the golf cart around with a beer in one hand and driving with the other.
He will never get to watch his grand babies grow up.
He will never sit on the bleachers and watch a little league game again.
He will never jokingly give me crap for a messed up base.
Judy and him will never again sit at the picnic table and have their little "dates."
I will never sit under the shed with him and talk about all the crazy coaches.
Never again will I walk up to the concessions and have Glen know exactly what I want to drink.
Never again will I get excited to see the red van pull through the gate and see the couple step out.
I will never get to sing the national anthem with him again before his team's game.
Never again will I see Glen Herbst.
I spent just about every day of summer with a man I will never wave to again.
A man that would put the pitching machine away for me.
A man who loved the park more than anything else.
The Rock of Pond.
The kind of man that everyone would start working when they saw him because they thought so highly of him.
One of the kindest men at the fields. One of the few that had respect for me. I will miss having him there."
-Text message to Marigrace 9/ 23 9:13 pm
I was lost. Do I call Dionna and wish my condolences? Do I wait until everyone else is done? Do I leave her be? I wanted to help but couldn't. I offered but she declined. I was in pain for Dionna. She had to be strong for so many people because now, she was the one holding the family together.
A few days later Keith Ellis, president at Pond, called me with service information for a Celebration of Life, Sunday. I would never miss it. I immediately texted Grayson because I knew he would want to be there. He would need traveling time because he was away for school in Rolla. I am so very glad I communicated with him because I know if I hadn't I would forever blame myself for Grayson missing the ceremony.
Sunday came fast. With juggling school, work, communication, racquetball and helping Dionna, I was exhausted. I knew Sunday was going to be the last time a group of people would have such a gathering for Glen. I needed to be there. I was nervous the entire day. I didn't have to leave until 3 so we went apple picking in the morning. That was a good way to help clear my mind.
I was getting ready to leave when I realized how hard it was going to be to walk into the park and not see Glen. Instead we were remembering him. It became very real. I arrived with Lauren so I wouldn't be walking in alone. It was at the park on field 2, which was where his favorite bench was. There were so many new faces! All of them looked so sad and sorrowful. I joined them in that expression. The field was decorated with red, white and blue balloons as well as flowers with his pictures in them. There was country music playing in the background and people talking, I had never seen the field so decorated. There were tables and chairs for seating and those were also decorated with red, white and blue. The flag was at half mast. John Sr andI had lowered it a few days prior.
I was overflowed with sadness and could feel my eyes filling with tears. I texted Grayson to see if he was there but he was going to be late. Lauren and I stood there talking for a while before it was time to move to the field. We all sat at a table together and I made sure to save a seat for Grayson.
John gave the most beautiful smile as he spoke of his friend. He reminded us of the time when him and Glen were younger and they planted 30 trees in between the fields. That made me smile because that showed that they were really the base and structure of Pond. A few speeches in, it hit me hard. I would miss his presence. I was zoning out in my thoughts when I heard a friendly voice. Hey!? Grayson whispered across the table. I was relieved to see him there. His face lit up with the friendliest smile. I now had someone who was understanding of what kind of person Glen was. Grayson's blue eyes stared into mine as I noticed him begin to tear up. I'm gonna miss him, he managed to say. I couldn't respond. I just slowly nodded my head in agreement.
We sat through a few more speeches before it was Judy's turn, Glen's wife. T h i s i s g o i n g t o b e t o o h a r d , I t h o u g h t t o m y s e l f .
I felt a tear run down my cheek as I turned to Grayson. He mouthed the words, It's going to be okay. Breathe. I took a deep breath and was ready to listen. She had a display of his hats to play out his life story. A hat for every place he worked, every tournament he watched, every anniversary of Pond, and a hat from every place on his bucket list that he had checked off.Judy had completed sharing her stories and memories. So then Grayson and I walked to find Dionna. We were here to support her. She spotted us and shook Grayson's hand and gave me the biggest hug. I held her tight. She began to cry in my arms.
Thank you guys so much for coming. You two meant so much to him and me. I am so thankful for everything you have done for the fields, she said.
Tears ran down my face as I wrapped my arm around Grayson. He embraced me in his arms as I felt tears leave my eyes. He spoke with Dionna as he held me. It was such a meaningful feeling for all of us. This showed how much we really are a family.
Grayson went off to see John and I stayed behind with Dionna. We looked into each others eyes and she quickly wrapped me in her arms. We held each other tight knowing that we were hurting. I had been with her every step of the way. I was the first person to hear about his struggling health and I was the last person to say goodbye. I could tell by Dionna's eyes that she was truly appreciative of me. I held her in my arms when her little girl came crying. She scooped her up and I held both of them even tighter.
How many people at the age of 14 have had to hold their boss as she sobbed into their shoulder I have. It was insanely difficult. Seeing the person who would always know what to do look so helpless was awful. It hurt my heart harder than it had ever hurt before. I look forward to the day we will all be at the park together again. Having tournaments and playing in honor of Glen. The foundation of our community at PAA.
Epilogue: I never thought I would be thinking about Glen in this way. Remembering him. Speaking of him in the past tense. Telling people how good of a person he really was because they didn't get to experience it themselves. Writing about it makes it so alive and it still feels like it's just a story. It?s not though. It is real. I struggle to comprehend that May will bring opening day and Glen won?t be opening the gates. Glen was always the one to sell the first pretzel on opening day. That was a tradition. A tradition that his grandchildren will now have to continue. Glen was like a grandfather to me and so many others. There were coworkers who gave him Fathers Day cards because they felt that connection so strongly. I now wear #playforGlen on the right sleeve of my work shirts. We all now play for him.
Baseball was his love and he was ours.
- Ellen Williams, 2022