116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — He’s the longest-tenured “employee” of the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
He’s been around longer than the general manager, the CEO, all the rest of the front-office staff. He even tops at least one of the club’s board of directors members in longevity.
“Ah, nobody knows me,” Verne Daugherty insists, pleading for a story not to be written on him.
The truth is many people know Daugherty, and not just at the ballpark. The 85-year-old Cedar Rapids man (he’ll turn 86 next month) works as a greeter/usher/security guy at University of Iowa athletics events.
We’re talking men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, track and field. He’ll be up in the press box at Kinnick Stadium in a few weeks.
“Worked a couple of baseball games,” Daugherty said. “Just don’t want to drive down there too much. I’ve got the Kernels.”
He’s had the Kernels for a long time. He was a regular fan at the old Veterans Memorial Stadium, remembers Quarter Beer Night, that the team once was affiliated with the Cleveland Indians back in the 1950s.
He became an usher in about 1990, as far as he can recall.
“They paid us, but it wasn’t much,” Daugherty said. “Probably six bucks an hour. Maybe. There was nothing really concrete about the employment. I remember that one night two ushers would show up. The next night maybe four ushers would show up. Bucky, Don Buchheister, was the GM ... It was very fun.”
He’s kept at it, riding his bike from his westside home to and from the ballpark up until the last couple of years. Arthritis in his knees has hobbled him some, though Daugherty still likes to get out and play golf when he can.
If you have a group outing on the Miller Mezzanine at Veterans Memorial Stadium, you’ll likely bump into him. He’ll be the one on the main concourse giving you a wrist band to gain entry upstairs.
As friendly a guy as you’ll meet, he’s likely to start some sort of conversation with you. Being around people is the best part of his job.
“God, yes,” Daugherty said. “It’s just been awesome. I hope to keep going. Really looking forward to football season ... I just like sports. I like them all.”
The Kernels beat Beloit, 4-3, Sunday at Veterans Memorial Stadium, scoring a pair of runs in the seventh inning. Will Holland started the seventh with a solo home run to tie the game, with Alerick Soularie eventually doubling in Willie Joe Garry Jr. for the winning run.
Derek Molina got a 6-4-3 double-play grounder with the bases loaded to end it and earn the save. Beloit won four of the six games in the series.
Cedar Rapids has Monday off, then travels to Dyersville for a much-anticipated game at the Field of Dreams against Quad Cities on Tuesday night. The game will be televised live by the MLB Network.
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