A humble Alan Swaim of Van Buren was quick to praise others when he was inducted into the Babe Ruth Hall of Fame on Saturday night at Fianna Hills Country Club in Fort Smith.
Family, friends and those who were an influence to “Big Al” during his youth were responsible for his unanimous induction into the Hall of Fame, Swaim said.
“Thanks for this incredible honor,” he said. “I must first thank Debbie, my wife of 48 years, who has been my biggest supporter, the one who never complained when I was gone … I could not have done it without you.”
Then, he said, there were his children, Randy Swaim and Kelley Swaim Curd, the classic park rug-rats, who were raised and ate hot dogs at the ballpark.
“My mother, Mary Coble, was a big influence on my life,” he said.
Swaim has said many times that baseball has been in his life as long as he can remember. Since his playing days in Babe Ruth Baseball back in the 1960s, he has greatly admired what the Babe Ruth League program did for him and what it has done for countless youth in this country. Swaim’s parents divorced when he was 13, and he credits his Babe Ruth coaches for helping him take his life in the right direction.
Included were Squeaky Smith, James Goddard and James Wagoner.
“The good Lord put these three men in my life at the right time and pushed me in the right director,” Swaim said. “I am paying them back tonight.”
Swaim also urged others to be that role model who steers youngsters in the right direction.
“Keep your eyes focused, do the right thing and be role models,” Swaim urged.
Babe Ruth League Inc. is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to developing better citizens by providing properly supervised baseball and softball competition for 4 through 18-year-old players. It is the basic intent of Babe Ruth League that every player who has a desire to play the sport is given the opportunity to participate and have fun.
“Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball league in America,” Swaim said.
Swaim joins more than 200 individuals and organizations who have earned the distinction of being inducted into the Babe Ruth League Inc. International Hall of Fame.
Swaim is the former owner and operator of Swaim Office Supplies and serves on the Van Buren City Council.
For 17 years he served as administrator of the Field of Dreams Sports Complex in Van Buren, retiring in 2012. The Field of Dreams houses 11 baseball fields and three softball fields.
Swaim is most recognized for his leadership role in bringing the Babe Ruth World Series to the Field of Dreams in Van Buren. Van Buren hosted the 2004 Babe Ruth 13-Year-Old World Series, the 2007 Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series, the 2008 Babe Ruth 13-15 World Series and the 2012 13-15 World Series.
After concluding its first World Series event, Babe Ruth headquarters was so amazed by Swaim’s accomplishments, that they asked him and his World Series committee members to host training centers for other groups getting ready to host their first Babe Ruth League World Series.
Swaim is a former board member for the Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren and Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. During his time with the boys and girls club, he also served as a coach and mentor to many young people. Swaim also served on the Arkansas State Outdoor Recreation Grants Commission.
In addition to his recent induction into the Babe Ruth League Hall of Fame, Swaim has received many deserving honors over the years, including: 2014 induction into the Southwest Babe Ruth League Hall of Fame, 2008 Babe Ruth League “Lefty Gomez Volunteer of the Year” award, 2005 Van Buren Iverson Riggs Memorial Citizen of the Year award, 2004 Sertoma Club Service to Mankind Award, 2004 Kiwanis Club volunteer of the year, 1982 Fort Smith Boys Club man of the year and the 1982 Optimist Club youth worker of the year.
Swaim’s induction came during a Southwest Regional Babe Ruth meeting at which Rob Featherston of Bentonville, Jerry Atkins of Clute, Texas, and Sonny Groom of Burleson, Texas, were inducted into the Southwest Regional Hall of Fame.