Legendary Dyersville Beckman Tom Jenk Jr. loses battle with brain cancer

Dyersville Beckman co-head coach Tom Jenk, Jr. (right) shakes hands with Jackson Bennett as he shakes hands with each player and coach after talking with his team before their Class 2A Championship game in the State Baseball Tournament at Principal Park in Des Moines on Saturday, Jul. 29, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Dyersville Beckman co-head coach Tom Jenk, Jr. (right) shakes hands with Jackson Bennett as he shakes hands with each player and coach after talking with his team before their Class 2A Championship game in the State Baseball Tournament at Principal Park in Des Moines on Saturday, Jul. 29, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Legendary Dyersville Beckman baseball coach Tom Jenk Jr. died Sunday, losing his battle with brain cancer.

Jenk, who was 64, didn’t lose much in a career that included five state championships. He won 1,088 games in 42 years at the school, which ranks fourth all-time.

Jenk was diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma last winter after experiencing stroke-like symptoms. Surgery removed only part of his brain tumor.

Longtime assistant coach Fred Martin coached Beckman in the 2017 season, with Jenk able to make only a few practices and games. One of those was the Class 2A title game in late July, as he rode in a medical recreational vehicle called the “Caring Coach” from Dyersville to Des Moines.

He and wife, Pam, watched from a luxury suite at Principal Park as the Blazers beat Carroll Kuemper, 9-6. Jenk pumped his right arm and pounded the table in front of him with his right hand as Beckman cinched the final out on a liner to shortstop.

 

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Beckman players and coaches pointed to him from the field, with him responding with a thumb’s up sign. It was incredibly emotional moment for everyone.

“I wish I was out there. That’s what’s going through my mind right now,” he said.

“It’s great. It’s tough, and it’s great. Two things in one,” Martin said after the game. “We’ve been together for many, many, many years. It’s just hard to see him not at third base. He’s been there for 40-plus years.”

Reaction to Jenk’s death was swift and numerous on social media.

Cascade baseball coach Roamn Hummel:

Monticello baseball coach Josh Soper:

Iowa City Liberty Activities Director Mike Morrison, whose West Delaware teams competed many times against Jenk and Beckman over the years probably said it best.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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