Torve

New Post 22 head baseball coach Kelvin Torve talks to some well wishers last Wednesday at the Fitzgerald Stadium indoor facility.

In his late 50s, life could be but a breeze for Kelvin Torve.

But coasting towards retirement apparently isn’t on the immediate agenda for the 57-year-old. He's an empty nester who loves baseball.

Post 22 baseball to be precise.

The former Hardhat great, Oral Roberts University Hall of Famer and Major Leaguer still has plenty to give, and the Post 22 head coaching position has plenty to offer.

It was no surprise to hear Torve’s name being tossed around once Mitch Messer stepped down from the post last month after six years at the helm. It was the worst-kept secret — it really wasn't a secret — that Torve had been offered the job and he accepted.

On Wednesday, the announcement was made official with a news conference at the Fitzgerald Stadium indoor facility.

Life happened, as Torve has claimed, when he came back two years ago to Rapid City from North Carolina to coach the Post 22 Cadets. He then coached the Bullets last season.

It was not a bad way to get your Rapid City baseball feet wet again. His teams won 80 games and one state title in those two seasons.

With the Hardhats, he’s diving in head first.

Now he has three teams to watch over (Hardhats, Expos, Bullets). He looks forward to that challenge.

“The players, I knew them and I interacted with them, but not at the same level that I will now,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun because I will be able to build relationships with a lot more guys.”

Torve didn’t flinch when he was approached for the job, knowing the time he is going to have to give to the organization.

He’s ready, he said, to be a part of a lot of young men’s lives, on and off the field.

“The time, I can do it … we’ve raised our kids. I don’t know how Mitch did it with his young family? This is not a young family-man’s job, I don’t think," he said. "It is something that where my boys now are the players.”

Of course, he got the green light from his bride of 33 years, Tonya.

“She understands that and embraces it as well. She was integral in us moving up here to be part of the organization,” he said.

When talking about Rapid City baseball, the name Torve is not just correlated with Kelvin. His late father, Kermit, was a big part of baseball in the community, as well as his younger brother, Kenton, who also played for Post 22 and in the minor leagues for four seasons in the Chicago White Sox organization.

And it wasn't just baseball. When Torve grew up he said there were only three sports to play — baseball, basketball and football. With that said, he played them all well. Along with helping lead Post 22 to the American Legion World Series in 1977, he was also an all-state performer in basketball and football at Rapid City Stevens.

The blessing of living in a small town, he said, was that an athlete can play two or three sports. With all of the years living in North Carolina, he said young athletes had to pick your sport by the time they were 12 or 14 years old.

When he got to college, virtually all of his teammates were one-sport athletes.

Not the Torves.

“Both for my brother and I, that’s the way we did it. It was fun, it was just a blast,” he said.

Basketball was his favorite sport, he admits, but he knew the best chance to advance was in baseball.

His work ethic led him to what most players can only dream of — playing in the Major Leagues, first with the Minnesota Twins (1988) and then with the New York Mets (1990-91). He also played two seasons in Japan.

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he became another Rapid Citian on his way to the big time. He joined Dave Collins and more recently Mark Ellis as Rapid City-raised Major Leaguers.

“I just embraced that opportunity and was blessed to be able to go to a Division I college to play; play well enough there to get drafted and continued to play well enough that they kept handing me a uniform to where I eventually made it all of the way,” he said.

Torve said that one of the unique aspects of his experience is his experience — he’s been where the current players have been. But he has also played where they want to go. With that, he said he can bring an empathy to where he knows the challenges they are dealing with on the field, and he knows the challenges they will be dealing with in the future.

He knows what they are thinking and what they are feeling.

"If I can help them avoid a pitfall and a mistake, direct them in a direction like ‘you need to go this way if you want to be a success in this game or in life, or you don’t need to go this way unless you want to make a big mistake.'"

One of those players who will play at the next level — shortstop Cooper Bowman (Division I college at Hawai’i) — said they all respect their new coach and what he accomplished.

“It is kind of cool to think that he came to this program and did what he did,” Bowman said. “It gives us a little hope and motivation that we can do the same thing. I know I love listening to him talk about anything; it doesn’t have to be about baseball. He is very intelligent and I just love listening to him talk.”

What Torve said  him up in the morning, what gets him excited about this job, is he wants to help get Post 22 as high as it can go; state tournament, regional tournament and World Series.

The prrogam has won 38 state titles and one national championship.

At the same time, it's about coaching and teaching young ballplayers, young men in baseball and in life.

“Our mission statement is forging strong young men in the game of baseball. I embrace that seriously," he said.

And he has another uniform to wear.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.