Irving—Mike Sartor accomplished much during his time with Irving ISD athletics, especially as head baseball coach at Irving High School, but he considers having his former home stadium renamed in his honor on May 23 as his biggest accomplishment.
“This is great,” Sartor, a 2018 inductee into the Irving ISD Athletics Hall of Fame, said during a ceremony in the Barbara Cardwell Career Preparatory Center. “Never in a million years did I expect this many people to show up.”
Formerly Tigers Field, the stadium is now known as Mike Sartor Field at Tiger Yard.
Sartor came to Irving in 1984, the same year Jim Bennett became the Tigers’ football coach. The two already knew each other from their time in Alvarado, and considering their long friendship, Bennett was the logical choice to introduce Sartor at the field renaming ceremony.
“Mike is the hardest-working coach I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with,” Bennett said. “He coached basketball at Alvarado, and he did a great job. He always made sure they were competitive, and the student-athletes had a positive experience.
“In 1992, we were looking for a new baseball coach, and Mike told me he would love the opportunity. Without a second thought, Mike Sartor was named head baseball coach.”
From the moment he took the job, Sartor worked to build the Tigers into a consistent winner on the diamond, but he also envisioned Irving High having its own stadium to play in and moving away from a field each of the three high schools shared. That process included removing rocks, resodding the existing field, building below-ground dugouts, installing lights, and a backstop.
Sartor credits the countless individuals who helped him revitalize Irving HS baseball, a group including his players, parents, school administrators and others like former trainer Eddie Lane, Dick Lear, who purchased many of the materials for the stadium, and Bruce Burns, a strong supporter of Irving ISD.
“He is the most unselfish person I have ever meet,” Sartor said of Burns. “Bruce is the one who started this idea of naming the field after me. He’s the one who did all the legwork. He got people to write letters on my behalf.”
Sartor had a vision of what a home stadium for Irving HS would look like. The finished product was so impressive, the district later decided to fund similar field renovations at both MacArthur and Nimitz High Schools.
“Our team would play schools in Arlington, Lewisville and Plano, and I would look around and see their fields, immaculate fields that had signs on the fences,” Sartor said. “They had concession stands, restrooms. When their kids walked out on those fields, they were home and they took care of it. That was my motivation. I wanted our kids to have the same feeling when they walked out on our field as other kids did. You don’t realize what an advantage having your own field is. That was the original thought, a place they could call home.”
The Tigers’ head coach from 1992 through 2000, Sartor guided Irving High to six playoff appearances, including a district title in 1993 and a trip to the state quarterfinals in 1996.
In 2000, he stepped down and shifted to a role as assistant athletics director, where he spearheaded further improvements to athletic facilities across Irving ISD at both the middle and high school levels, including relocating and renovating MacArthur’s baseball field.
Sartor retired in 2015, and in 2018, the district inducted him into its athletics hall of fame. Just three years later, the same field he was so instrumental in building was renamed in his honor.
For one of his closest friends, this latest honor, like Sartor’s other numerous accomplishments, is no surprise.
“He is a dear friend,” Bennett said. “He’s as good a coach as I’ve ever been around, but more importantly, he’s a good husband, a good parent and a good man. I think this is a real honor. It’s one he deserves.”
Sartor’s impressive legacy in coaching lives on in his two sons, Ben and Matt, who have both followed in his footsteps as Irving High’s head baseball coach. His daughter, Dr. Teri Ann Sartor, is a professor at Lamar University in Beaumont.