AL HAMNIK: A night like no other for Hall of Famer Barry Quigg

2013-03-12T19:45:00Z 2014-09-09T19:28:04Z AL HAMNIK: A night like no other for Hall of Famer Barry QuiggAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
March 12, 2013 7:45 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Barry and Jason Quigg are a father-son TV movie with a hanky ready next to the remote.

Jason is the boys varsity basketball coach at River Forest, where Barry could be found sitting near the bench in years past, cheering the Ingots on.

Nothing made Barry "Bear" Quigg happier, prouder, than family. And to have Jason follow in his footsteps as a coach and mentor for impressionable young men had the buttons on his shirt popping.

But for the last three years, life has not been kind to Barry, who coached baseball, basketball and football at Hammond Tech and Bloom Trail high schools before retiring.

The Morton grad, now 72, is in a nursing home and uses a wheelchair. He's battling dementia, has survived three strokes, a near-fatal bout with  pneumonia, and has had his weight drop from 250 pounds to 139.

Earlier this year, Barry's health was failing due to the pneumonia and Hospice was contacted.

"It didn't look good," Jason said.

But then Barry learned he was among the Hammond Sports Hall of Fame 2013 induction class and a miracle occurred.

"He started thriving and getting better," Jason said.

Tuesday night was a much-needed snapshot moment as "Bear" joined seven other inductees for the organization's dinner at the Civic Center.

"Unbelievable!" Barry said.

Jason wheeled his father in and proudly stood beside him, both smiling, as Barry renewed past friendships during an evening that went by too quickly.

"It's a culmination of everything he stands for," Jason said. "The biggest thing he taught me was to care about the kids first and worry about the winning second.

"He's really honored that he gets to be part of the 'club.'"

Barry Quigg was a three-sport standout in high school, especially as a pitcher/third baseman. He played collegiately at Missouri Valley, leading his team to the College World Series with the fifth-highest batting average in the nation.

"I was good but not that good," Barry said jokingly of his Hammond induction.

Jason Quigg said between 15 and 20 family members would be attending the event. Barry's wife Paula was receiving chemo treatments and too weak but sent her love.

Barry had planned to say a few words along with fellow inductees Jim Nolting, Artie J. Rogers, Peter Smith, Rayfield Stringer III and Shayne Snider — who just happens to be Jason's principal at RF.

"My boss is here, so I'd better be good," Jason smiled.

Joe Betustak Jr., deceased, was represented by his dad and Sigmund Golonka, deceased, was represented by his son.

Barry and Jason were beaming with pride all evening, but for each other.

"Oh God, am I," Barry said. "He was born to coach. They won the sectional, won the regional and made the Final Eight (in 2000-01)."

Added Jason: "He still talks about it as if it were yesterday."

Barry hasn't seen River Forest play in three seasons, not since Jason's wife Courtney had Dad brought to the Hanover Central game as a surprise 37th birthday present for her hubby.

"That was quite a treat," Jason said, his eyes watering up a bit. "I know he's not there when I'm coaching now but I'm thinking about him."

Too bad Tuesday night had to end.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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