Tim Fangman has lived in North Liberty since he was two years old.
During that time, he followed the Chicago White Sox, led by Frank Thomas, and was a Minnesota Vikings fan, but deep down he wanted to play for the Hawkeyes.
“He was always a Hawkeye fan,” said Tim’s mom, Gwen Fangman. “It was his dream to play for the Hawkeyes. He never thought he’d be good enough but he worked hard.”
The only question was… what sport?
Tim played little league baseball in the area and developed into a real good pitcher.
He played at Koser Park in North Liberty and didn’t have a great start on the mound.
“When I was younger I played third or catcher,” said Tim. “I always had a good arm. I remember the first time I pitched I think I threw four straight to the backstop.”
At Iowa City West he became a first team all-conference pitcher as a junior, finishing 8-2, and helped lead his team to a conference championship in 2007.
“Tim worked his tail off,” said his high school coach, Charlie Stumpf, “We’re really proud of what he’s done. He’s a good kid with no ego. He’s everything you want as a teammate and leader.”
Tim’s senior year in high school he was second team all-state, first team all-regional and had an 8-3 record.
Football was Tim’s other sport. He played in the line for the Trojans four years in high school and was an honorable mention all-conference pick as a senior, his first year as a starter.
Tim had a couple of offers to pitch in smaller colleges like Coe, Wartburg and Marshalltown Community College but chose to go to Blackhawk Community College in Moline.
“My dream was to play D-1 baseball,” said Tim on his decision to go to Blackhawk. “So there coaches sold me on the chance to do that.”
Tim, who was a starter in high school, became a relief picture in college.
“He was built to be a reliever,” said coach Stumpf. “His arm was very resilient and he never had a sore arm. He had a lot of movement in his pitches and threw a lot of ground balls.”
Tim worked hard on getting his body leaner in junior college and coach Stumpf said his fast ball improved from the low 80s to the high 80s.
Tim walked on at Iowa last fall and has been a top reliever for the Hawkeyes this year, sometimes making his mom a little worried.
“It used to make me real nervous because he would go in a lot with the bases loaded,” said Gwen. “He used to struggle a lot with that but the last few times I’ve seen him he seems to handle that better.”
Going into last weekend’s games at Purdue, Tim was second on the Hawkeyes with a 3.08 ERA. He has a 2-1 record as a reliever with 32 strikeouts in 49 innings. Tim has appeared in 23 games, the most on the staff.
Tim said it was a great feeling when he went in to pitch the first time at Duane Banks Field.
I didn’t take Tim long to adjust to being a relief pitcher.
“It’s kind of nice,” said Tim. “I stay in the game and watch every at bat but then when they tell me to go warm up it’s just a different mindset. That’s when you get into a zone and get your arm warmed up. By the time I get to the mound, nothing else matters. It’s just you and the catcher.”
Tim said that playing in a summer league last year in Mankato, Minn., helped him get ready to pitch in relief for the Hawks.
The Hawkeyes have struggled this year going 20-32, 9-15 in the Big Ten, but Tim feels good about next year.
“I’d say with the talent we’ve got coming back and the pitching and with people getting a year older,” said Tim. “I think next year’s looking bright already.”
When I go out and speak in public about my book, “No Hands, No Feet, No Problem?” I always talk about dreaming big and not giving up.
It took me 25 years from when I started writing my book to the finished product… with a lot of help from Brian Fleck, who co-wrote the book with me.
Tim dreamed of being a Hawkeye, went to junior college first, worked hard to be a better pitcher and didn’t give up on his dream.
Sometimes good things happen to good people and sometimes, dreams do come true.