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Thanks, Ross

American Legion Baseball in Wyoming is darkened by the loss of a true friend of baseball and youth.
American Legion Baseball in Wyoming is darkened by the loss of a true friend of baseball and youth.
Photo by emmohome.com

The athletic world offers few certainties, but one is that on any given day of a Wyoming spring or summer, baseball diamonds across the state are filled with games producing winners and losers.  Sadly, everyone in the Cowboy State was a loser this last Thursday when an icon of American Legion Baseball was suddenly taken from among us.

Ross Kesterson, longtime manager of the Evanston Outlaws American Legion baseball program, was driving on wet roads in heavy rain last Thursday evening when a traffic accident claimed his life.   He was returning from northern Wyoming in order to coach his team Friday morning in the Stampede at the Springs, an invitational baseball tournament being held in Rock Springs.  Kesterson was 56 years old.

“Wyoming has lost a champion of youth and the game,” said Paul Eastridge, Wyoming American Legion Baseball Chariman .   “I remember Ross hitting home runs out of Casper’s Tani Field during his youth,” Eastridge said, “and Ross was eventually drafted- I think by the Minnesota Twins.”

It was common knowledge that Kesterson- who preferred that his players and fellow coaches merely call him Ross- funded the Outlaw program mostly from his own pocket book, an act of generosity toward youth and a love for baseball made even more impressive when considering today's poor economy.

Yet, to merely say that Ross had a passion for his players and the game would be a gross understatement.  Anyone that ever witnessed Ross in action over the years can attest to his willingness to help players of any team be successful.  Keterson was always eager to lend his baseball expertise to whomever asked for it, yet he was just as content to give advice when it was not requested, especially with umpires.

While not a certainty, it is a safe bet that every umpire in the region knew Ross Kesterson and knew him as a manager that was quick and capable of keeping umpires on their toes.  Kesterson was a colorful, uninhibited, and high-decibel figure when it came to discussing differences with umpires, but it is another safe bet that those who experienced his baseball scrutiny nonetheless carried great respect for the coach . . . and the man.

Kesterson’s peers also held him in high esteem, as evidenced by a release that carried the tragic news to baseball coaches and American Legion officials around the state.  Nate Perleberg, manager of the Gillette Rough Riders, finished the sad announcement with strong words of praise for his fallen friend and condolences for the Kesterson family. 

“Ross was a great man and coach . . .  what a tragic loss to our Wyoming Legion Baseball family,” Perleberg said.  “May your thoughts and prayers be with his family."

The recent words of a current Evanston Outlaw player provide insight regarding Ross Kesterson’s ability to deeply touch those he coached.  In a statement made on the day of, but prior to, the accident, Outlaw player Terry Morrill discussed how Ross had positively touched his life. 

“(Ross) told me something that really is a true compliment I feel,” Morrill said.  “I was told that (Ross) wishes more people had my work ethic and that I am a self made player and how we need more of those kind of people on our team.”

It is more than appropriate that rain shut down nearly all of the baseball action across Wyoming on the weekend after Ross Kesterson passed.  It is as if the weather felt the need to enforce a baseball moratorium so that the many people positively affected by Ross would have the opportunity to pause and reflect on the man who had donated his time, money, and expertise without ever asking for anything in return.

Services are pending for Ross Kesterson, but another certainty of Cowboy State baseball is that many, many past Evanston players, opposing players, parents, coaches, and American Legion officials will be in attendance to honor a man whose presence was taken for granted far too long, but whose memory will last even longer.   Wyoming American Legion Baseball is reeling from having lost a most remarkable presence, but it has been a winner for the many years Ross unselfishly served. 

As Wyoming mourns its loss and celebrates the life of Ross Kesterson, the words that best fit can only be:

   “Thank you, Ross, from the many, many people whose lives are so much better for having known you.

Comments

  • Kelly Felkins 4 years ago

    Ross began coaching me in 1986 on a Babe Ruth team that didn't have much going for it. The things he did for us was outstanding and not only taught me things about baseball but taught me some life lessons that I can still remember. I then followed him to be coached at the Legion level in Evanston. The valley didn't have a team and so I made the effort to go to Evanston everyday and play. It was wonderful, I learned to play baseball, met some really good people. We even won a state championship my last year! I will surely miss Ross' life learning moments when we won and especially when we lost. I can't wait to see him again and tell him thank you and play catch. I will miss you.

  • Kimberly Williamson 4 years ago

    For the past 7 years my boys, my husband and I have had the honor of being involved with Ross and this team. We have traveled thousands of miles and enjoyed every one. Though we couldn't claim a winning record most of the time, Being in the presence of Ross kept the kids laughing and we always had a good time. He was more than generous, and financed this team to an extent that no one had any idea. The money is only a small part of the story, the time he spent with dozens of kids over the years that he had no obligation to other than they shared a love of baseball and he wanted to keep the kids playing and keep them out of trouble. Our family will miss Ross more than I can express. He was a truly selfless person. We will miss you so much.

  • Doug Williamson 4 years ago

    We live in the Bridger Valley where there is no baseball for 16-19 year old kids and took our boys to evanston where Ross taught them enough each one on my boys had the chance to play baseball at college level. Being someone who loves baseball and helped Ross for 6 years i can tell you he taught me every time we played or practiced. Ross was if you can imagine a better friend than a coach to all his players. We will all miss Roscoe!

  • Tina Pruitt 4 years ago

    American Legion Baseball will not be the same with the loss of Ross Kesterson. Not only did this man donate so many hours over the past I don't know how many years but he funded the Outlaws almost entirely out of his own pocket. And why would he do this you may ask....he did it so that our sons could learn the game of baseball and learn to love the game of baseball as he did. As a mother of a former player I am grateful to Ross for what he did for the boys of Uinta County. We will never forget you Ross. Until we meet again...Let's Play Ball!!

  • Desiree Kesterson Sorenson 4 years ago

    Funeral services for my Uncle Ross will be Thursday at 11 at the South LDS Stake Center in Evanston Wyoming (located by the High School). A viewing will be held at the Crandall funeral Home on Wednesday Evening from 6-8. There will also be a viewing before the funeral starting at 10 at the Stake Center. After the viewing on Wednesday night it has been said that there will be a pick up game on the OUTLAW field in honor of Coach Ross Kesterson. If you currently played or have played for Ross or are an Outlaw fan, feel free to join! Thank you for all of the love and support everyone has shown our family.

  • Debbie (Smith) Terech 4 years ago

    It's impossible to write the words in a short paragraph of how grateful so many of us are to Ross and his family. Ross gave so very much of himself to our young men. The handbooks of baseball and life's lessons will forever live in the hearts and minds of all that had the privilege of playing for Ross and knowing him. Generations of young players will benefit from the time and knowledge that Ross spent with his players. Both my boys, Todd and Randy played for Ross. He was a mentor, a friend, a coach and more to so many young people. Thank you and blessings to Ross's family for your unselfishness in sharing Ross. Without your love and support, the many parents and young men that love the game would not have beneffitted from his never ending generosity. Rest in peace, #1 ~ blessings and prayers to you and yours.

  • Mary Smith 4 years ago

    For the past 25+ years, I have had the honor of knowing Ross and calling him "friend"..... As I read articles, watch actions, reactions and listen to the hundreds of comments and sentiments expressed among the many, many individuals who are stunned and saddened by his passing, I know that he would be truly honored and humbled knowing he has touched so many lives in such different ways. I know that Ross would feel truly blessed to have known each of us who have had a share in his too short of a life. So let's take heart, stand straight and proud and be thankful that he was and always will be the better part of each of us. God Bless every one of you and "Rest in Peace, my dear friend"!

  • Fred Martinez 4 years ago

    I've known Ross since the late 70's when he first moved to Wyoming to start his business in the oil & gas industry. My five children have always referred to him as Uncle Ross as he always shared his generosity with our family. He and Stephy (bless her heart) are and always will be very near and dear to our hearts. My shared memories w/Ross whether we were coaching kids, golfing, hunting, fishing, traveling together will always be special. All of us that knew him know how blessed we are that he came in to our lives even though the time was too short. Please keep Steph & Ross' entire family in your prayers. Good bye my dear friend.

  • Brock Kesterson 4 years ago

    My dad loved baseball but more importantly he loved instilling the love of the game into us boys. We were his sons on the field and off. He wanted us to understand that through baseball's lessons we could learn to be better citizens and better men. He gave more of himself than anyone else that I have ever know. He truly understood the importance of making each and everyone of us feel like we were the most important thing in his life. "I do it for baseball and my boys" he would say about coaching, but he also did it for himself. He was so happy when he was on the field and it makes me happy to remember him that way. My Dad the Coach.

  • Candy Sorenson 4 years ago

    I am a parent of one of the current players of the Evanston Outlaws. I would like to say to the wife and family my heart goes out to you and I hope you know just how much he will be missed by the team and the community. My son, Matt went to the field on Friday morning to wait for Ross to come and pick him as he always does. Matt and Ross were very close, my son could talk to Ross about anything. When he found out that their coach had passed away he came to my work very upset. I have never seen my son cry as hard as he did that day. He lost a friend, a mentor, his coach, and even a father figure. Baseball is the most important thing to my son and Ross made my son feel that he could do anything if he put his mind to it. Matt will love you and cherish you and everything you taught him. Thank you Ross. I also know that current and past players have been talking and they feel that the baseball field in Evanston should be named after Ross. Lets make that happen!

  • Michael Ochinero 4 years ago

    Batter up Ross! Thanks for coaching my boys Mason, Brayden, and Sam. You gave them words of wisdom. True love and support. Your positive mark left on their hearts and minds will never be repaid. Unless, of course, "thank you" is enough. I remember you seeing Mason pitch in Little League and watching him mow the opponent down, you said to me, "Don't let that kid quit baseball. EVER! I can't wait to coach 'em." To this day I don't know what made you stop and watch. I only know you got to ciach him and coach him you did! Love him you did. You were the best there ever was. The best there is. And the best there EVER will be! Rest well.

  • Sterling and Sandy Parker 4 years ago

    Ross's passing was not only a loss to Wyoming American Legion baseball, but also a loss to the state of Utah American Legion baseball. The voice of American Legion Tournament State Baseball, Sterling Parker and his wife sends condolences to the special friends and family of the Kestersons

  • Gage McSpadden 4 years ago

    I would be lying if I said I knew Ross well. I am a catcher for the Rawlins Generals. I would watch Ross in the third base coaching box as he led Evenston not only to become a great team, but also to be great men. I have caught a few games here and there and I find pride in myself to always pick up the other teams bats after a hit. I was rewarded with a smile and "thanks catch" from every player I had the pleasure to hand a bat to. This shows he not only installed hitting in every player but also the balance of kindness, life lessons, and respect. My good friend pitched the next day with the words "Coach Ross" written on his pitching hand. Us Generals have a saying in Rawlins, it's due to a performance earning our respect. Well Ross, you earned the worlds respect. "Respect Earned Ross" R.I.P

  • T.J. Morrill 4 years ago

    Rossco was much more than just a baseball coach to me. He was a mentor and a teacher.He taught me life lessons through baseball, he always was direct and honest. I appreciate the way he funded the team mostly out of his pocket,it along with his general attitude showed me that he truly did care about us.The world is better for his being here.For the longest time I've been atheistic but after I went home after hearing the news and before leaving for Rock Springs I prayed, for the first time in two years and I felt good about it. Ross has brought out the best in me and the rest of the people he knew.I'll never forget all the moments we shared, especially my first year of Legion when I sat the bench a lot, I learned more sitting next to him than I ever would have playing every game that year. With his help I went from being the .100 hitter I was 2 years ago to the .450 hitter I am now, not to mention I went from being the quiet kid in the corner to the talkative jokester. Thanks Rross RIP

  • Steve Hershfeldt 4 years ago

    Ross was my coach from 1988-1990. I'll never forget the look on his face when we won the state championship. It's etched in my mind. He put so much into coaching us. I sat next to him countless times as we traveled to distant games throughout Wyoming and Utah. The hours spent in his truck were some of the happiest moments of my childhood. There are hundreds of former Outlaws who know exactly what I am talking about. The time on the field was all frosting. He was the cake. Thanks Ross

  • Travis Martinez 4 years ago

    I met Ross in 1983... little did I know that this man would become one of the most influential people in my life trying to mold me into a Jedi Knight as he was. As a dear family friend he was uncle Rossco and we would do all the fam gigs, but on the baseball field he taught genuine confidence, love, independence, etc. etc. etc. and is a very important part of the formula of who I am today (20 years later) and always will be. We WILL flyfish again Ross... I love you maaaaaan!

  • Whittney Kesterson 4 years ago

    Uncle Ross was the eldest of 4 brothers (Ross, Donal (Bud), Roger, Jim). I love listening to the stories of the boys growing up and the love that they all had for baseball. My Uncle Ross was nothing short of an amazing man. I have the privilege of having this significant man apart of not only my life, but my family. In my years of living around not only an influential man, but an influential family I have grown to be proud of the last name that I share with these amazing men. I know that Uncle Ross was nothing short of a hero to many. To those of you who played for Uncle Ross over the years were able to share time and memories with him that I never had the privilege of. Please, hold those memories close to your heart, as I know you will. Uncle Ross was a part of more than just the Kesterson family, but it seemed that in his years of coaching and living he became a Father or Uncle or Son to many. I feel blessed to have him apart of my life. I love you Uncle Ross!!

  • Terry Friend 4 years ago

    I meet Ross in the softball league when we moved to Evanston in 1983, one day Ross wasn't playing anymore and I asked some guys were he was, and they said that he was going to coach the Outlaws and the rest of the history is well known. I couldn't wait for our son to become of age to play on the Outlaws and for Ross, what a great coach, dad, and most of all what a great person. Our son only got to play the fall league in SLC,UT and this season with Ross. In that time he became very attached to Ross as a coach and most of all as a person, and shares the same feelings as does the kids along the way that have had the privilege to play for Ross and the Outlaws. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kesterson family, the world has lost a wonderful person. Thanks Ross R.I.P.

  • Sherri Kesterson 4 years ago

    Before Ross was a great Coach he was a great Player! My boys know their Dad as the "Coach" but wow, he could play the game like no one else. He knew everything about the game and that made him one of the best Baseball Coaches anywhere. He wanted to share his most prized possession and he did, his knowledge of the game. So, if you have learned how to play baseball from Ross, please pass it on, then Ross will live on forever through the game he loved so very much.

  • Brandon Tholl 4 years ago

    The reason Ross was so influential to so many young men was, when you turn 16 and you come to the outlaws, its a time in life when the last thing you want to do is listen to your parents. Ross becomes that person in your life that can guide you and teach you things like having pride in your work ethic, self-confidence, being part of a team, and teaching you that the guys you play ball with with be your best friends the rest of your life. I will never forget the things he told me, wether it was off to the side in private, or when he was cussing me out from the dugout. He always said I was the best pitcher he's ever seen(for 3 innings.)Not only did the baseball world lose a very good man, but the world it self has lost a very important teacher and friend.

  • Larry Murchison 4 years ago

    I will miss Ross forever. We have been close friends for 30 years. I met Ross while working in the "oil patch" and through the years we shared a lot of great times. We fished, hunted, and played a lot of golf together. I am honered that I was his friend,and he will always be mine. Love ya Ross