‘Coach Jimmy Isaacson Field.’ Galesburg considers naming field at H.T. Custer after legendary coach

Baseball coach Jim Isaacson
The late Jim “Jimmy” Isaacson coaches for Knox College. (Knox College)

A legendary coach who may have spent more time around H.T. Custer Park than anyone could soon have the the baseball diamond there named in his honor.

Galesburg aldermen on Monday will consider a resolution naming the baseball field at H.T. Custer Park in honor of the late Jim “Jimmy” Isaacson. Isaacson coached baseball for 48 years — all in Galesburg — with stints for the Galesburg Post 285 Legion program, Carl Sandburg College, the Galesburg Pioneers and Knox College.

Isaacson was known as an inspiration and mentor to his players, both on and off the field. He specialized in teaching the fundamentals of the game. He died in December 2018.

Son: Dad would be humbled

If approved by the Council, the baseball field at H.T. Custer Park, located on East Fifth Street, would be known as “Coach Jimmy Isaacson Field.”

“This would mean so much to my mom, my sisters and me,” said Isaacson’s son Jami Isaacson. “We’re so appreciative to the people who started the effort, and the fact they thought so much of my dad.

“First, he would be humbled. Secondly, he would thank all of the players and young men he had the opportunity to coach and work with.”

Jami Isaacson said his parents Jim and Pat Isaacson built their family home located on Pearl Street directly across the street from H.T. Custer Park.

“H.T. is the place Dad played his games as a Legion player in the 1950s, and H.T. is the place he coached until 1974 when the games were moved to Community Field, now Sundberg Field,” Jami Isaacson said. “H.T. Custer Park is where it all happened, and it was the place to be for baseball in Galesburg from basically mid-May to August.

“Going to H.T. Custer Park was part of everyday life for my sisters and me growing up. And that’s what makes this so special.”

A 1958 Galesburg High School graduate, Isaacson began his coaching career with Galesburg American Legion Post 285 in1964, making nine state tournament appearances and winning a state title in 1971. He continued to coach for Post 285 for 26 years.

Isaacson also coached for Carl Sandburg College for 15 years starting in 1969, and the Galesburg Pioneers in the Central Illinois Collegiate League from 1972 through 1975.

He was hired to coach the Knox College baseball program in 1988 and was named Midwest Conference Coach of the Year twice and led the Knox baseball team to five conference tournament appearances. Isaacson was also an assistant coach to his son Jami when the 2008 team won the Midwest Conference Championship.

‘One of the finest coaches in Galesburg history’

Seventh Ward Alderman Steve Cheesman, a former player and coach under Isaacson, said naming the baseball diamond at H.T. Custer Park “would be ultimate honor for a person that has done so much for baseball in our community.”

“I am absolutely thrilled that this is happening,” Cheesman said. “I had the privilege of playing for and coaching with him. His impact on me and so many others runs deep.

“He really cared about his players and wanted the best for us. He always showed great respect for everyone and he never acted in a way where he was bigger than the game or anyone else.

“Jim Isaacson was truly one of the finest coaches in Galesburg athletic history.”