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News > Obituaries Tuesday, Mar 18, 2008

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He was team player right up to the end

Star-Telegram staff writer


    FORT WORTH -- James Edward Hollars wasn't in the Fort Worth Cats' lineup, but team officials credit him with their 2007 championship win.

    Mr. Hollars, the team's chaplain, had just been released from the hospital that September day and arrived at the ballpark in time for the seventh inning stretch in the decisive Game 5 of the American Association championship series.

    Team President John Dittrich helped wheel him out to the field to sing God Bless America, as was Mr. Hollars' practice during the break.

    Mr. Hollars was weak from his long battle with Parkinson's disease, but everyone enjoyed his performance and felt his dedication to the team, Dittrich said.

    "It was so inspiring to our players that the next batter up, Jordan Foster, hit a home run, which led to our winning the championship," Dittrich said. The Cats are an independent minor league baseball team.

    "Jordan has since said that Jim's performance really inspired him when he went up to bat. That's a legend that will live forever for the Cats."

    Mr. Hollars died Saturday after a bout of pneumonia. He was 68.

    He was born in Wichita Falls in 1939 and later moved to Lubbock with his family. He graduated from Texas Tech University in 1964.

    He was music and youth minister at churches in Texas and Ohio. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was a minister at Richland Hills Baptist Church in Richland Hills.

    Mr. Hollars spent most of his ministry career in Ohio, where he became chaplain of the Toledo Mud Hens minor league team, his daughters said. He was also involved in the Baseball Chapel, a national group that provides ministry to baseball organizations.

    He graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1992. When he retired from his Ohio church about a decade later, he and wife Shirley Hollars moved to Fort Worth.

    That year, the Cats moved into the new LaGrave Field stadium in north Fort Worth. Mr. Hollars became the team's chaplain soon after, conducting Sunday services between batting practice and game time. He ministered to any player or staff member who needed it, Cats officials said.

    "This man knew every single fact about baseball," said daughter JaNet Hancock of Union City, Calif.

    Mr. Hollars had been hospitalized for a condition related to Parkinson's in September and had missed most of the championship series.

    Daughter Deb Sneed of Fort Worth drove him to the field. She said her dad was determined to see the team win its third title in a row.

    Other survivors include wife Shirley; sisters Judy Davis of Nashville and Joyce Wynne of Midland; daughters Jennifer Osborne of Tipp City, Ohio, and Cyndy Ives and Julia White, both of Fort Worth; and seven granddaughters and two grandsons.

    Memorial service

    2 p.m. today at Christ Chapel Bible Church, 3740 Birchman Ave., Fort Worth.

    EVA-MARIE AYALA, 817-548-5534


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