Entering the 1970’s, no member of the Shelby County Athletic League had ever won a team state championship. Jackson Center almost claimed the boys basketball crown in 1963 but baseball would be the sport to break the drought and it was well positioned to do so.
During this era, baseball was very popular with young boys. Many of their dads played as adults in the old Western Ohio League after participating in high school. Households grew up with baseball. The SCAL had the advantage of playing the national pastime in both the fall and spring, a luxury afforded by no football and an “open season” designation by the OHSAA.
Finally, in 1971, the Russia Raiders won it all in Columbus. I’ll recount more of the story when the 50th anniversary arrives in late spring. While this remains Russia’s only state championship, it will always be significant since it was the county’s first. Anna won state baseball a year later and the SCAL was off and running toward the 28 Ohio team titles now displayed on the league’s website.
I hope Russia celebrates this local and county milestone anniversary. 50 years ago and still quite notable….
Sidney Mayor and former Lehman Catholic administrator Mike Barhorst recently remembered now deceased Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda for the SDN. They met when the skipper was the guest speaker for the 1992 Lehman Foundation Banquet. Longtime attendees of the event still rank Lasorda as one of the top keynotes in the ongoing series.
Barhorst revealed his enjoyment in interacting with Lasorda and relayed a couple of humorous stories from the visit. I was not surprised when Mike said Tom later called him by name before a game during a subsequent Dodgers series in Cincinnati.
In 2013 I visited with Lasorda at the Dodgers spring training camp in Glendale, Arizona. When I mentioned Lehman and Sidney he smiled and inquired, “How’s Mike? Tell him I said hi.” I had not mentioned Barhorst and it was 21 years later.
Virtual Rotary visit
It’s time for Cincinnati Reds Media Relations VP Rob Butcher to make his annual visit to Sidney Rotary in advance of another season. This happens next Monday but will take place in cyberspace as Rob will be in his office as Rotarians gather around their computers. I’ll have it covered and will report next Friday.
I saw the Boston Celtics play an exhibition game at St. John Arena in Columbus back in the late 1980’s and headed to press row about 90 minutes before tipoff. As I walked down the ramp to courtside I could hear a single basketball bouncing. I’d heard that superstar Larry Bird took an extra 200 shots each day, even before games. Could that be what I was hearing?
Yes it was. Bird was shooting both twos and threes from all over the court and had a personal rebounder to aid the process. This was one of basketball’s greatest players displaying the work ethic that made him elite That’s over 30 years ago and I’ll never forget it.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. The columns of Dave Ross have received statewide recognition in Ohio Associated Press Managing Editor’s competitions.