You can always tell that an event has been successful when attendees stick around to mingle long after the formal proceedings have concluded. Such was the case each of the past two Saturday nights when baseball-oriented annual fundraisers were held in both Fort Loramie (Jan. 4) and Versailles (Jan. 11). It was again my enjoyable task to interview the special guests at each function to generate the program for the evening.
The mission in Fort Loramie was to benefit the ongoing development of Redskin Memorial Park across from the high school, resulting in a sellout of St. Michael Hall for the third year in a row. Its anchor is Shelby County’s first major leaguer, Jared Hoying, the local native who now patrols the outfields of South Korea.
Loramie was inspired by the Versailles event which now totals 11 consecutive annual renewals, anchored by Versailles product Craig Stammen who enters his fourth season in the bullpen of the San Diego Padres. The Versailles K of C Hall was also filled as proceeds went to baseball, religious, and scholarship causes.
Hoying and Stammen were again the common interview denominators as they support each other’s efforts. Also on the Loramie docket were pitcher David Hale and sportswriting legend Bucky Albers. Versailles included new VHS baseball coach Joe Harmann, Dayton Daily News sports columnist Tom Archdeacon, and Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer Tom Browning.
A taste of the seven interview subjects follows.
David Hale: The right hander played with Hoying in South Korea in 2018 and wanted to return there but couldn’t due to family obligations. He signed with the Yankees organization, was called up in May, had a solid season, and may return there in 2020, likely in the bullpen but possibly as a starter.
Bucky Albers: This 1956 graduate is a member of the Fort Loramie Schools Wall of Honor and was the main headliner of the Loramie festivities. After graduating from UD he moved back home, enjoyed playing basketball for Brucken’s Cafe, and began his career with the Sidney Daily News. Soon thereafter he was convinced to take a job in Fairborn which got him closer to his future wife and into the Dayton market. He covered the 1961 World Series in Cincinnati, then moved on to Dayton newspapers where that relationship continues today well into his formal retirement. This nationally recognized figure was thrilled to be back home and received a royal welcome.
Joe Harmann: This Cincinnati product was previously the head baseball coach at Lehman Catholic and has now assumed the reins in Versailles where he also teaches. The Tigers facilities and tradition make him feel like he’s “hit the lottery” as a baseball coach.
Tom Archdeacon: He’s even better in person than in print. The Ottoville (Ohio) native began as a teacher and navigated into sportswriting while living in south Florida. His first interview assignment was before a boxing heavyweight title fight where he had to deal with imposing bodyguard Lawrence Tureaud who would become known as Mr. T.
Tom Browning: Details and humor were aplenty as he recounted his career including his 1988 perfect game. “That’s the best I ever pitched. I didn’t need great defense that night. Other times I did.”
Jared Hoying: Jared played in the 2019 KBO All Star Game and was selected for Home Run Derby where the winner hit five and Hoying hit one. “Some guys didn’t hit any. KBO went with a deader ball last season. Homers were way down and so was attendance.” He returns to South Korea for a third season and will enjoy his spring training in Peoria, Arizona.
Craig Stammen: His new two year deal with San Diego was announced just hours before the doors opened in Fort Loramie. “I wanted to get closer to home but the Padres were persistent and made the best offer. The Reds stayed in touch but discussed only a single year.”
Next week: Coming on Labor Day weekend: 30 and 0 plus 50 years.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. This summer Dave Ross will mark 45 years of local media service.