GREAT FALLS — Bob Fletcher has been a staple at minor league baseball games in Great Falls for over 30 years.
He might strike you as a regular Voyagers baseball fan, but his history with the team, and his path to the Electric City might surprise you.
“I played here in 1989. I was sent here on a rehab assignment,” Fletcher told MTN Sports. “I was rehabbing from Tommy John. So I wasn't scheduled to be here the whole season. So I threw a couple innings and, and then they sent me over to Salem.”
His stint with the Great Falls Dodgers that summer only lasted two games, but his time in the Pioneer League altered the course of his life.
“I met my wife, Angie, at the park,” Fletcher explained. “She was an assistant for the GM, so I never thought I'd come back to Great Falls, but I'm glad I did. I've been living here ever since.”
A quick tour of Fletchers house reveals a rich baseball history. Newspaper clippings from his 21 strikeout performance as a high schooler in Pennsylvania. Pictures with Tommy Lasorda. Autographs from former teammate Mike Piazza.
He also has championship rings from his three minor league stops Sarasota, Vero Beach and Great Falls.
But Fletcher doesn’t keep his experiences and knowledge to himself. For the past seven years, he and his wife have taken Great Falls Voyagers players into their home as a host family.
“It’s been a really good experience for us. We were on the fence about it. We weren't quite sure how it was going to go, but it's kind of my way of giving back to the game,” Fletcher said. “We've been pretty fortunate, have been pretty lucky with some of the guys we've had. Just some really, really good guys from great families.”
And the Fletchers’ experience is not unique - there are many benefits to being a host family.
“The number one benefit is these players become part of your family. No matter where they're coming from, or what background they might be coming from,” said Voyagers general manager Scott Lettre. “Our host families have welcomed the players in and they honestly become one of theirs for not only the summer but for life after that.”
Bob’s life was changed after one summer in Great Falls, 32 years ago. And he encourages others to step up and make this summer a life changing experience for the 2021 Voyagers.
“As a player, as a young kid coming into a strange town or city. It just kind of eases your mind knowing that, you know, there's people that are willing to step up and let you be kind enough to let you stay in their home with them for the summer,” he said.