By Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Chelsea Bulldog Athletic program honored longtime coach and athletic director Wayne R. Welton on Saturday, May 12, with a ceremony to commemorate the renaming of the baseball field as Wayne R. Welton field, along with a plaque and an on-field ceremony.
While the double header for Chelsea baseball scheduled to be played after the ceremony was cancelled due to a deluge of rain, that didn’t stop around 200 friends, family, and former opponents of Welton from braving the elements to come out and honor the man who has had such an impact on the Chelsea community and athletic program.
On November 27.2017 the Chelsea Board of Education unanimously approved commemorating the field in Welton’s honor, agreeing to put his name on the scoreboard along with a plaque describing his accomplishments.
“Wayne influenced fans across the state,” said Julie Helber, Superintendent of Chelsea Schools. “There are people everywhere that talk about Wayne Welton. He’s had a big role in perpetuating what we know as ‘the Chelsea Way’. I’m extremely honored to have you all here today to witness the dedication of Wayne R. Welton Baseball field. “
Welton was the head coach of Chelsea baseball for 32 years and Athletic Director for 23 years.
As head baseball coach, he amassed a record of 767-357-11 and led the Bulldogs to their only state championship in 1991, a Class B state title. His 767 wins puts him in the top ten in the history of Michigan High School Baseball. In addition to the state title he won 13 Southeastern conference titles. In 1991 he was named the Michigan High School Baseball Coaching Association (MHSBCA) Coach of the Year. He was elected to the MHSBCA Hall of Fame in 2003.
Adam Taylor, current Chelsea Baseball Head Coach and member of the 1991 State Championship team, spoke about Welton’s impact on and off the field.
“In regard to the impact Coach Welton’s had on us, “said Taylor on behalf of other alumni in attendance. “Being a great coach certainly, but being a great mentor, friend, father figure to many of us, brother, and coach. This is a great day for all of Chelsea athletics and I’m so happy for Coach Welton. Congratulations, coach.”
Todd Starkey, an assistant coach on the state title team, presented Welton with a watercolor painting of the baseball field.
Before a ceremonial first pitch caught by his son, Joe, Welton addressed the crowd that had come out on the rainy Saturday morning.
“The showing here today, the dedication, all of it has touched my life,” said Welton. “I have a lot of family here, my mom here in the stands, the rest of my family right behind me. The truth of it is, all of you are my family. All I ever set out to do was make Chelsea proud of Chelsea. If that can make some sense to you for a second, it’s all I ever really wanted to do. Whatever I gave I got back from this entire community, the entire district, tenfold or more. Thank you for the way you’ve impacted my life over the years.