Joe was the commissioner of Natchez Dixie Youth 11 and 12 year olds and served on the board for 15 years. (Thomas Graning / The Natchez Democrat)

Joe was the commissioner of Natchez Dixie Youth 11 and 12 year olds and served on the board for 15 years. (Thomas Graning / The Natchez Democrat)

Everyday hero: Dixie Youth leader works behind scenes

Published 12:22am Friday, June 13, 2014

NATCHEZ — Joe Eidt prefers to get it done behind the scenes.

Serving as commissioner for the 11 and 12 year olds in Natchez Dixie Youth for roughly a decade and serving on the board of directors for 15 years, Eidt spent most of his time crunching the numbers in the background rather than standing in front of the microphone.

“I’ve never been one for accolades,” Eidt said. “If we host a tournament and it goes off without a hitch, I’m excited. If we host a tournament and we have rain and I can get that field ready without us missing a day, I’m excited. That’s the challenge.”

For so many years, these were the challenges Eidt conquered time and time again. Serving on the board of directors with Eidt was his good friend Porky Smith, who said he couldn’t have picked a better person to work with.

“Joe was what I liked to call the smart guy of the bunch,” Smith said. “He did all of the paperwork and kept us in line.”

It’s been a year since Eidt and Smith handed the major responsibilities to new Dixie Youth President Jeff Webb, but it’s admittedly hard for him to keep away from the Dixie Youth parks. Eidt referred to himself as more of a consultant these days.

“I’m still around,” Eidt said. “We have new leadership, and I felt like it was time for me to back out of an active role. I’m still on the board, but myself and Porky Smith decided it was time for younger guys to get their hands in there. I think it’s going well.”

Some of Eidt’s fondest memories involve coaching his sons, Ben and Phillip, in the 1990s, and after each of his kids graduated from Catheral High School and moved on, Eidt found himself more involved as ever. His wife, Emily Eidt, couldn’t believe the amount of work Eidt put in despite having no further connection to the league after his sons went to high school and college.

“My wife’s called me a lot of things, but she called me crazy because of the work I put in,” Eidt said. “But it was done for me, it was done for my kids. I felt I owed it to the program and the kids coming up to give them what I had.”

Since Eidt has been involved, he’s seen concession stands upgraded, storage buildings bought, fields refenced and relationships throughout the city increased. The smiles on the kids faces were always the driving force behind every action Eidt did, and Smith said it best when he called Eidt an “all-around Dixie Youth man.”

“I’ve always put Dixie Youth ahead of things that I shouldn’t have,” Eidt said. “But it was some of the best times of my life, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”