Three generations of Strobel caretakers in one family

Gary Trent grew up the little boy who cried wolf as a kid in the Sandusky school system.
Mark Hazelwood
Sep 16, 2010

Gary Trent grew up the little boy who cried wolf as a kid in the Sandusky school system.

Trent, 49, a 1980 Sandusky High School graduate and former Blue Streak football player, always had an eye-raising answer whenever someone asked where he lived.

"I told everyone I lived at Strobel Field and nobody believed me," said Trent, the current groundskeeper at the stadium commemorating 75 years of operation Friday.

As a kid, Trent's father Cecil, 75, spent nearly three decades taking care of Strobel Field. Underneath the home grandstand was a spacious apartment that has since been converted to the visiting locker rooms and Trent's maintenance office.

There were three bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom and utility room in the apartment. Living there made for unique circumstances, to say the least.

"How many kids could say they had a football field in their backyard?," Trent said. "Strobel Field was home of the great Blue Streak football teams, but it was also my home, literally. We'd take advantage of it sometimes as kids and play on the field on Sundays."

"Sometimes the Sunday games were better than the ones on Friday or Saturday. It was just a lot of fun growing up here and being part of the stadium."

The original occupant of the Strobel Field apartment was one of the more notable figures in Blue Streak lore, Len Winkler. The 1923 SHS graduate is famous for giving Sandusky the Blue Streaks nickname. Prior to that, they were known as the Blue Devils.

In 1940, Winkler began teaching math and science at SHS and was a member of the Sandusky Boxing Commission. Former Mayor William Harbrecht proclaimed Oct. 9, 1965 as Len Winkler Day, and later that night he announced his last game at Strobel Field after a 30-year run as voice of the stadium.

Ironically, the night Winkler announced his last game on the day named after him, the P.A. system quit working, prompting Winkler to say, "Isn't it ironic that we both quit at the same time?" Winkler died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1966.

Meanwhile, the Trent family tree at Strobel began when Gary's grandfather, Charlie Green, began taking care of the facility. When he retired, Cecil took over and spent three decades on the job.

"The Trents have been in here since 1959," Cecil said. "That's 51 out of 75 years. All three of my sons were raised here, and I certainly saw my share of players and coaches come through here too. There are a lot of memories here."

When Green was in charge, the Trent's lived just across the street in some apartments on Camp Street.

"But we were always over here," Gary said.

In Cecil's time in charge, he kept two German Shepherd guard dogs to keep away trespassers.

"You had to have them back then," Cecil said. "One thing about that was, all the neighborhood kids spent the night and slept out in the hallway there, and with the dogs there, I didn't have to worry about anyone bothering them because the dogs would be laying on the pillow with them. They were here a good 15 years."

Many of the Sandusky coaches would hang out at the apartment with Cecil after the games, as would some of the police officers working security at the game when it was inclement weather outside.

Cecil also noted that when his kids graduated from Sandusky, the ceremony was held on the field, and the graduation parties were held in the hallway underneath the home side of the stadium -- right outside their front door.

Gary also played football for the Blue Streaks, so when practice ended he just had to walk a few feet to get home.

"Not that I would have, but it would have been hard to be late or skip out on a practice," Gary said. "They wouldn't have needed to look very far to reach me."

While it's mostly pleasant memories, living at Strobel Field did have it's moments.

"Trying to get it cleaned up for the next day can be hectic when St. Mary has a Saturday home game," Gary said. "You have to be ready to go. My dad was constantly on the job. He was always doing something, but that was one of the things about living here. It's fun in some ways, but hectic and no peace at other times.

"A lot of good people have come through here over the years. It was a good-sized apartment. My mom fixed it up until it was really beautiful. It wasn't that nice when we moved in.

While fans can observe from the outside where the windows have been cemented in and the grass has been replaced with blacktop, one feature that has remained the same is the landscape.

Outside the visitor's locker room heading towards the south entrance on Grant Street, the original landscaping that Gary's mother planted remains, most notably a rose bush.

"It's been rewarding," Gary said. "The job has changed over the years since my grandfather and my dad had it, but it's still the basic concept of the taking care of the field and keeping everything up.

"Growing up, you had to be out at the games anyway because it was too noisy to stay in the apartment with all the banging and carrying on. It was an exciting time to be a part of."

Comments

sandtown alum

This article notes that a student nicknamed Sandusky the Blue Streaks in 1923.  I've tried to research over the years how we became the Streaks.  People always asked what was first, our mascot or the roller coater.  Anyone know what the Streaks stood for back then? 

sandtown alum

What a nice article about Stroble field and the family that has taken care of it for all these years!  I was always proud of our stadium!!  Thank you to the family for all their years of hard work.  I hope the tradition can continue to be passed down!

ralfgregor66

How many kids could say they had a football field in their backyard?

haha So true! I would rather live under a volleyball court though but that's just me... =)

ralfgregor66

"How many kids could say they had a football field in their backyard?"

haha so true! Although I would probably prefer a volleyball court... =)