The Abington region has hosted professional coaches who bring glory to the hometown, volunteer parent coaches who encourage youth and even teen coaches who pass on all they have learned. One of these coaches is preparing to pass the torch. Jim Hatton dedicated 25 years to youth sports in the Abingtons. When his son Jim was seven, Hatton began coaching Jim's Little League team. Three years later, Hatton moved on to become President of the Abington Little League Board. After four years, he took on the role of Player Agent for both the Abington Little League and the Abington Youth Soccer League.
Hatton would send registration packets to all children in the two leagues at the beginning of their seasons. He would publicize and hold open registrations at the library, place every child on a team and schedule all of the games.
This is the guy who would make sure your kid got on a team, even if you came in late, Bob Horvath, Vice President of the Abington Little League said. In the Little League alone, he scheduled 50-60 teams on eight fields and managed the rosters of over 700 boys and girls. He placed every child, from T-ball to major farm and orchestrated the Little League draft. In addition, this season Hatton placed 980 boys and girls in the soccer program.
A Scranton native, Hatton graduated from Central Scranton High School. He and his wife, Linda, built a house in Clarks Summit, where they raised their three children, Becky, Jim and Tracy.
He spent 39 years working as a Computer Programmer at MetLife.
I was lucky because they had a flexible schedule, Hatton said. I could go in early and get out in time for the games. Back in the late 1980s, before it was the norm to do so, Hatton created a database of players to ease the registration process. His friend and MetLife executive, Mark Davis, assisted him.
Hatton described one early spring morning many years ago.
I used to come out to Ackerly (Field) to cut the grass around seven o'clock, he said. One morning I saw my family pull into the parking lot in our van. My daughter Becky said, ‘Well dad, we knew if we wanted to see you, we better come out here.' They help me set up the concession stand that day, unpacking boxes of food and drinks. Anything we could do to raise some money and keep the league going.
After playing a major role in making youth sports accessible to thousands of local boys and girls, Hatton is ready to pass the torch. Now I can catch up on some projects around the house and spend more time with my grandchildren, he said.
According to Horvath, Hatton will not be easy to replace.
Jim's work will be greatly missed, but we have so much gratitude, Horvath said. He is a perfect example of how a member of the community can volunteer and give back. To stay in it so many years after his kids had moved on, it's commendable. He is a role model to parents today.