Late last month the Sidney Rotary Club hooked up on a zoom call with Cincinnati Reds VP of Media Relations Rob Butcher. I have a few more items from him that I want to share preceding spring training which is scheduled to begin next week.
I’ve decided not to venture to Arizona for spring training due to covid and media access concerns. I hope to go back in 2022 but that prospect is already clouded by labor issues with the need for a new basic agreement between owners and players at that time.
Left fielder Shogo Akiyama…..Butcher showed enthusiasm when reviewing the first American season for this former Japanese star. “Shogo was our best hitter in September. He knows how to play baseball. Once he got comfortable with language and customs, he fit in really well. He’s an excellent leadoff hitter.”
Lefty reliever Amir Garrett…..Rob had positive vibes about this former big time college basketball player, then ventured beyond the game. “Amir is active with the Black Lives Matter movement but believes that the police must also be supported. He has already reached out to the Cincinnati police and will extend those efforts once the covid concerns are gone.”
Backup catcher Curt Casali who joined the Giants as a free agent…..”Our ballclub has many great guys and Curt was one of the best, in addition to being a capable catcher. We will miss him.”
The departure of TV announcer Thom Brennaman after using a sexual slur that went over the air…..”Thom was well liked but he had to go swiftly after that happened.”
Cardboard cutouts occupying ballpark seats. This became the major source of team philanthropy funds during the pandemic….. “I bought 18 to cover my extended family. (Third baseman) Eugenio Suarez bought several so he could remember his family at a time they couldn’t leave Venezuela.”
NK girls and Hegemiers
New Knoxville perennially fields solid girls basketball squads under coach Tim Hegemier with the current campaign being an example as the Rangers pursue a 20 win season including tournament. The varsity/jv roster lists one senior, seven juniors, two sophomores, and three freshmen. Below that are six eighth graders who haven’t played since December and three seventh graders who weren’t able to put a team on the floor.
This is a very small school district that normally graduates about 30 per year but can and does have gender imbalances for enrollment and/or athletics at any one time. A year from now the varsity should still be very good. Beyond that, who knows?
Incidentally, Tim’s brother and fellow NK graduate Dan Hegemier will bring his St. Marys boys to Fort Loramie on Saturday night. Dan’s Hall of Fame coaching career includes well over 500 victories and is highlighted by 16 seasons at Loramie with state titles in 1987 and 1993 among his 298 wins. I got to call many of those on radio and TV.
I first met Dan at his initial head coaching stop, Waynesfield Goshen, on a night he almost scored a big upset at Jackson Center. He also won a state crown at New Knoxville in 2008 with a perfect season. No question that he’ll be warmly greeted on Saturday. Dan Hegemier is a great basketball coach.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has worked in local sports media since 1975. His first SDN byline appeared that same year.