Baseball brought her here; ministry keeps her here
Baseball lies at the heart of Sue Clough’s story of how she got to Kansas after living in Indiana, Florida, Illinois, and Wyoming.
Clough, 81, grew up playing baseball on a makeshift diamond in the front yard of her family’s farmhouse in Indiana.
She and eight siblings often played in the evening with their dad. On Sunday afternoons, cousins and friends would gather to play, too.
“We learned to love baseball,” Clough said.
It became an integral part of her life. After her father’s funeral many years later in 1968, the family went out and played ball.
“We did that in honor of our dad,” Clough said.
That same love of the game eventually led Clough to Kansas when her grandson, Chance Miles, came to play baseball as a pitcher and first baseman for Tabor College.
Clough was living in Gillette, Wyoming, and had just retired from a career as a surgical nurse.
“I was retiring, and it occurred to me that I could go to Kansas for the baseball season,” she said.
She rented a room at the Elgin Hotel in Marion and spent a lot of time in Marion during subsequent baseball seasons, attending Catholic churches in Marion, Pilsen, and Florence.
Newfound friends offered to keep her in their homes and encouraged her to move to Marion permanently.
Clough moved in 2005 and bought a little house at the county lake. Chance went on to play baseball for two independent leagues in Portland, Oregon.
“I told Chance that God had recruited him to Tabor to get me to Kansas,” she said.
Clough sometimes questions whether she did the right thing moving here, but while attending a pilgrimage by the Catholic Youth Organization at St. Mark’s Activity Center, she got her answer.
It featured several saints to whom she instantly connected: Joan of Arc, Chance’s confirmation name; St. Jerome, Clough’s street name in Gillette; and St. Padre Pio. Her son worked for the San Diego Padres baseball organization.
“It confirmed my choice,” she said.
She learned last summer that a Tabor baseball player had broken a record her grandson had set and held for 10 years, hitting the most doubles.
She met the player at a Great Bend tournament.
“You made us so happy,” she told him. “We didn’t know about Chance’s record until they reported you broke it.”
Clough is a familiar face at Marion Senior Center. As its president, she controls the temperature and keeps the place tidy.
Her Kansas home is a central location from which to visit relatives. She goes back to Wyoming three times a year and has a son in Dallas, Texas, a sister in Oklahoma, and family in Indiana.
Grandson Chance was one of triplet grandchildren that grew up in her house. They watched Cubs games with her.
When 18-month-old Chance grabbed a plastic pipe and swung it, Clough was delighted and saw a future baseball prospect. She went out and bought him a Nerf baseball set.
“That was the beginning of his baseball career,” she said.
She has settled in as music leader at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Florence.
“Chance brought me to Kansas, but church keeps me here,” she said. “They need me.
“People ask me where I am going to move next. I say, I don’t know, God hasn’t told me. Maybe heaven.”