It's now the Al Baldock Cougar Sports Center.“He loved the team. He loved the school. He loved the players, ” daughter Erin says at dedication.
The Cougar Sports Center at Taft College has a new name.
The complex that houses the gymnasium, athletic offices, shower and locker facilities and a softball field was formally dedicated Saturday to the memory of the late legendary football coach Al Baldock.
The audience included former Cougar football players and fans along with several political dignitaries.
Emmons Park Drive from Sixth Street to Wildcat Way was blocked off for a short time to accommodate the ceremony that included a ribbon cutting.
Baldock's widow, Joyce, and his daughter Erin and grandsons helped christen the Al Baldock Cougar Sports Center.
Erin recalled her father's dedication, noting he rarely got home before midnight during football season, only to head back to his office at 4 the next morning.
"I remember spending Sundays with mom at the gym on the computer putting in scouting reports," she said. "He loved the team. He loved the school. He loved the players."
Baldock had a reputation for pushing his players to become good citizens.
"He wanted everybody to be successful, especially after football," she said.
Don Bandy, who coached the offensive line during Baldock's tenure at TC, told a number of stories about the legend and emphasized how much he cared about his players.
He recalled a time when several assistant coaches wanted Baldock to boot a troubled player off the team.
"He said, 'I can't do that. I've been to his home, and he's had a really hard life,'" Bandy said.
Taft Mayor Randy read a proclamation celebrating Baldock's success as a coach.
Baldock, who died three years ago, guided the Cougar football program from 1976 until its demise in 1994.
Over that span his teams rang up 137 victories, 26 losses and five ties.
TC won two national championships, six state championships and 15 conference titles. The Cougars also won six Potato Bowl titles under his tenure.
The six-time coach of the year, Baldock was enshrined in the Kern County Sports Hall of Fame and was named a "Legend" at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, where he also guided a nationally ranked program.
Impetus for renaming the Sports Center in his honor came from the Academic Senate, a faculty group that oversees the instructional program.
The Senate adopted a resolution that was endorsed by the college's board of trustees.
Memorabilia marking Baldock's tenure at TC was on display in the gym and highlight films from some of his best teams ran on a continuous loop.