The Obit For Bob Savage

Legendary DM East coach Savage dies

The DesMoines Register - July 2, 2008

Bob Savage, who coached football, baseball and softball teams to success during a five-decade career at Des Moines East High School, died today.

Savage, 86, died at Iowa Lutheran Hospital at 1 p.m., hospital officials said.

Savage led East to 477 softball victories, 198 baseball wins and 102 football victories.

East athletic director Ric Powell, a former baseball coach at East, considered Savage a special member of the East family.

"He was one of my mentors and a great friend,” Powell said. “He’s one of the biggest losses we’ve ever experienced because he’s been a part of East High athletics since 1954. He’s probably the most respected coach that we’ve ever had.”

Savage, a longtime employee of the Des Moines Park and Recreation Department, leaves a softball legacy that includes a complex on the east side bearing his name.

When Savage stepped down as softball coach in 2000, he was the game's elder statesman among coaches in the state. East softball coach Bob Ligouri said the Scarlets continued to list Savage as their pitching coach.

Des Moines disc jockey Dic Youngs, who played football at East under Savage, called his coach's passing a great loss.

“The east side is in great mourning,” Youngs said. “I knew him as a coach and as a friend. He was a terrific coach and even a terrific friend. He had an impact on thousands of his ballplayers — baseball, football and softball.”

Savage's death comes one day after the Scarlets clinched at least a share of their fourth consecutive CIML Metro Conference softball championship.

Tonight, Ligouri seeks his 500th career win when East plays Lincoln.

"To me Bob Savage is a legend," Ligouri said today.

"People have a tendency to focus on a win-loss record and championships and things like that when they coach and the thing that stands out with me is that his love of his sports that he coached, his love of athletics, his competitiveness.

"… We’ve had great success in softball at East and I was telling people the reason for that is because of the work that Bob Savage did in this community for decades. Softball is the game on the East side and that’s because of Bob Savage and every time a mother hands the ball off to her young daughter that’s because of Bob Savage and the love of the game that he instilled in generations."

George Davis, director of umpires for the Central Iowa Metropolitan League, knew Savage for 35 years.

Savage served as freshman coach for three seasons when Davis was girls' basketball coach at East, beginning in 1993. Davis said Savage owned a special knack for success in softball.

“I never knew a person that had more knowledge in the game of softball than Bob Savage,” Davis said. “His knowledge, especially in the area of pitching ... he kept East High in pitchers for many, many years. He’d see them throw a ball when they were young kids, by young I mean 6, 7, 8 years old, and then he’d work with them. He’s the one that really kept East in the ballgame for several years.”

Savage was born in Big Spring, Texas. He played football and baseball at Texas Christian University.

He played professional baseball for one season, in 1943, then served in the U.S. Navy in World War II.

Savage served alongside baseball Hall of Famers Pee Wee Reese and Johnny Mize in wartime.

“It was intensity and always try to be on top,” Savage said in a January 2000 article in The Des Moines Register. “That’s what they gave me. Those type of people didn’t slouch on anything.”