The Citizen did a great article today for the memorial for Nick Tripp at KHS:
Although he graduated from Keller in 2006, Nick Tripp’s baseball family didn’t lag in establishing a memorial at Indian Field after he passed away on March 15.
On April 24, the team, family and friends dedicated the memorial to the former Indian baseball player with a tree and inscribed rock just behind the Keller dugout.
Tripp had played for Keller all four years of his high school career and was known for his athletic ability, competitive nature and sense of humor. He also played linebacker for the Keller football team, but his real love was baseball.
Tripp played third base his freshman and sophomore years, first base his junior year and outfield his senior year.
His absence from the program didn’t diminish the memory of the baseball alumnus, especially from the families who continue to have boys in the program.
It was from the planning of two families, Kathy and Danny Merck, and Jan and Kenny Smith, that allowed the memorial to Tripp to go from mere discussion to reality in about a month’s time.
“We asked other parents what we could do,” Kathy Merck said. “We just knew that whatever we did, we wanted it in the baseball complex so that everyone could see it.”
Contributions came in, including the donation of the red oak tree by T.J. Stankewicz.
Sitting at the foot of the tree is an inscribed stone which reads, “In Memory of Nick Tripp. Class of 2006.”
Additional contributions to the fund by current and previous baseball families were made to Sundown Ranch in Canton, the family’s designated beneficiary for memorials.
Keller head coach Rob Stramp remembers Tripp as a real competitor on the field.
“He played the game really hard,” Stramp said. “His uniform was always the dirtiest for one reason or the other, and his eye black was always smeared across his face. He always did the little things that help you win.
“I remember a home run he hit against Richland to help get us going in that game … including a play while he was at third, where he scooped a ball going to his left and then flipped the ball underhand from his glove all the way over to second for a force out. I’ve never seen that before.”
It wasn’t just how hard he played that made Tripp stand out in Stramp’s mind.
“He was one of the smartest players we’ve had,” he said. “He had a high baseball IQ. He knew how to play the game.”
Tripp’s last full game as an Indian was March 6, 2006, as the Indians faced Plano at Ameriquest Field. It was a game where Tripp did more of the little things Stramp spoke of, including laying down two drag-bunt singles.
Soon after, Tripp would take leave from the team to visit Sundown Ranch to help put his personal life back in order. Tripp would return in time for the playoffs that season.
Following high school, Tripp joined the Marines and was recently stationed at Camp LeJeune, N.C., until his death.
“He said he joined the Marines to save his life,” Tripp’s mother, Melinda Tripp, said. “He was back home during Christmas and he was just awesome.
“We just don’t fully understand drug addiction,” she said. “It’s here and it’s real and we hope someone is helped by telling his story.”
The dedication ceremony was held on Senior Night, the last home game of the regular season. It was also the first time the Tripp family had been back to the ballpark since Nick’s death.
“When Melinda came, she was a little upset,” Kathy Merck said. “When she heard the crack of the bat again, it brought tears to her eyes. She remembered how much Nick loved baseball. It was bittersweet.”
Following the ceremony, the Indians circled the tree and decided to hold their pre-game prayer kneeling around the new memorial.
I want to thank the readers contributed to the cause. It was very much appreciated.