Paul Condry was on the play-by-play call Friday, April 21 for his 20th baseball Senior Day at Bethel University in Mishawaka, Ind. A longtime broadcaster and founder of Regional Radio Sports Network and a member of the Bethel Athletics Hall of Fame along with wife Tonya, Condry began calling baseball home games for the school at the same time Seth Zartman came back to campus to be the Pilots head coach. “It’s one of the greatest relationships I have,” says Condry. “Seth is not only great to work with and accessible like no other, but he’s also my friend. “I can always ask him the tough questions. I can be on-point about whatever situation that’s going on that I may observe from my spot here in the press box. I’m going to get a straight answer. “He’s going to be honest with me.” Over his many decades of sports, Condry has had several coaches tell him things in confidence. “I’ve never betrayed that trust and I think (Seth) knows that,” says Condry. The press box at Richard C. Patterson Field inside Jerry Jenkins Stadium has become Zartman’s working space. “I respect his office,” says Condry. “We keep it nice and tidy for him. But it’s a great viewpoint. “The sight lines are amazing. It’s just a great place to broadcast baseball.” Being the “Voice of the Pilots” has allowed Condry to call the exploits of future major leaguer Justin Masterson and several other superb players. In the last week or so, he received from Jacob Ringenberg, a senior in 2007, who wanted to share his thoughts. “He poured out his heart about the baseball program and the ministry that is the baseball program,” says Condry. “It’s been fun to feel like I’m part of the family. “I know I’m part of the Zartman family.” Seth’s wife Anitra and kids Senica, Ty, Lyric and Evik spent much time at Bethel. Anitra helps Condry with the Indiana Football Digest. “It’s been a great 20 years,” says Zartman. “We’ve had a lot of fun together. Hopefully we’re going to do this for many more (years). “I can’t put into words what (Paul) means to my family.” Not only Zartman, but Condry has bonded with assistant coaches like the late Dick Siler and current pitching coach Kiel Boynton. One of Condry’s favorite calls came Friday, April 14 as Andrew Miranda socked a three-run walk-off home run in Game 2 of a doubleheader against Marian. The broadcaster’s words before the clout set the stage. “That was one of those calls I absolutely nailed,” says Condry, who let his audience know the count (0-2), position of the two baserunners (first and third with the double play in order) and number of outs (one) before lefty-swinging Miranda cleared the fence in right. “Like anybody who’s in this position you always want to prime yourself. This is potentially what could happen.” He cites the famed “Shot Heard Round the World” of the New York Giants beating the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951 — “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” “That’s one of the greatest calls in all of sportscasting because you listen to the couple of minutes before the actual home run and you can hear (announcer) Russ Hodges set up the play,” says Condry. “Someone was here and so-and-so was there and this was going on and that was going on and then he he gives you that historic (home run) call.” Condry grew up in Hobart, Ind., as a fan of the Chicago Cubs and broadcaster Jack Brickhouse but was also drawn to the Baltimore Orioles because they were often on the NBC Game of the Week. He appreciated Chicago Blackhawks play-by-play man Lloyd Pettit. “I listened to everybody when it comes to baseball,” says Condry. That includes Ernie Harwell in Detroit, Jack Buck in St. Louis, Bob Uecker in Milwaukee and Vin Scully in Los Angeles. “There’s some special people who put on the headsets,” says Condry. “We all love and grew up with those guys. They painted the picture like nobody else could.” At age 4, Condry knew he wanted to paint, too, and has been able to do that most of his adult life. “God has blessed me immensely,” says Condry. “How many people in America truly get a chance to do the only thing they every really wanted to do in life?” At 66, Condry called his 191st and 192nd athletic contests of 2022-23 on Senior Day. He also broadcasts high school football and basketball as well as college basketball and college volleyball. Condry, who is also in the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association and Indiana Football Coaches Association halls of fame, puts together the Indiana Football Digest, writes for the RRSN website and the Indianapolis Colts and on and on. The 17th annual Griddy’s award show is Sunday, April 23. “I feel like I’m working two full-time jobs,” says Condry. “And I’m loving every minute of it.”
Ty Calloway and George Phares were on opposite sides as coaches of baseball and basketball in Indiana’s Howard County. Calloway, a 1968 graduate of Western High School in Russiaville was at his alma mater and 1965 Shelbyville Senior High School grad Phares at Taylor High School on the side side of Kokomo. Success came to both men and Phares (656-412 in seven seasons at Morristown and 31 at Taylor with an IHSAA Class 2A state championship for the Titans in 2000) was inducted into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2004. Calloway (662-310 with a 3A state title in 2012) joined his friend in the Hall in 2012 and retired after the 2013 season. Taylor’s diamond was renamed Phares Field in 2006. After retiring from the classroom, he helped out at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion on the staffs of Mark DeMichael and Chad Newhard for seven or eight years. Phares says he enjoyed his interactions with former Bethel University assistant and fellow IHSBCA Hall of Famer Dick Siler. Future major league pitcher Brandon Beachy went Northwestern High School in Howard County to IWU. Phares also volunteered at Taylor and Kokomo and could be seen in recent years helping each January with registration at the IHSBCA State Clinic in Indianapolis. He is also on Hall of Fame selection committees. As retirees, Calloway and Phares share a log cabin on Dewart Lake near Leesburg in Kosciusko County. They often spend New Year’s Eve there with wives Dallas Calloway and Martha Phares. Ty and Dallas are the parents of Wendy and Betsy. George and Martha have Jennifer, Tim and Susan. “We are the second-most famous George and Martha in the United States,” says Phares with a nod to the Washington’s. Recently, Calloway and Phares offered their views on a variety of topics related to baseball and education. Calloway was in the last eighth grade class that went through in Taylor Township prior to the completion of the high school. Ty’s two younger brothers — two and three years behind him — both went to Taylor. “My parents had to split time going to my games and their games,” says Ty, who got to compete against middle brother Mike on both the diamond and the basketball court. Mike’s class played a junior varsity schedule as freshmen then a varsity schedule as sophomores. There was one baseball game between the two schools where Ty was on second base and one of his teammates hit a deep fly to center field. “We didn’t have fences back then at Western,” says Ty. “Mike took off and I thought for sure it was over his head and I came all the way and stepped on home plate. All of a sudden, he did one of those ‘Willie Mays’ over-the-back catches. I had to retreat back. He threw (me) out at second. “I was at shortstop when we picked Mike off second base. That was an interesting game.” Ty and Mike guarded each other on the hardwood. There was one season of baseball for Ty at Ball State University in Muncie and summers with the Kokomo Highlanders. He went on to earn a bachelors and a masters degree at BSU. He applied in several places but was offered a chance to teach and coach at Western by Norm Llewellyn and took it. Calloway taught middle school Health and Physical Education. Beginning in the spring of 1974, he was JV baseball coach for four years. He was also a varsity assistant or JV boys basketball coach for about 20 years. Phares played baseball at Seymour High School as a freshman and the next three at Shelbyville. He went to Indiana State University and was cut from the team. He graduated with a degree in Mathematics and Physical Education and went to Morristown in 1969-70. “I had played (American) Legion baseball at Morristown and knew a lot of people there,” says Phares. “They hired me as a junior high baseball coach. I graduated from college on Sunday and Monday I started working. I was made head coach at the end of the first year. “Throughout my high school career I was always the head baseball coach.” Phares was also a varsity assistant in basketball at the beginning of his time at Taylor. Calloway says it was his raising with his brothers and sister that led to his philosophy as a coach. “My dad taught self-discipline and being responsible,” says Ty. “No matter whatever did give 100 percent effort and that’s what I told (our players) we’re gonna get.” At tryout time when it came down to cutting down the roster and Calloway had two players of equal ability, character would be the tiebreaker. Students and athletes on Calloway’s watch were expected to behave. “You can’t win with kids who have bad character,” says Calloway. “You’ve got to have good kids. “As much as you can you’ve got to be a good role model for those kids.” Between the lines, Calloway stressed fundamentals and saw to it that those were being taught at Russiaville Little League. Among those fundamentals was the proper throwing mechanics. “The teams that win games are the teams that play the best pitch and catch,” says Calloway. “That’s a fact.” Calloway organized practices where his player got plenty of repetitions and got better. “In high school baseball, reps is the key to winning,” says Calloway. “Sometimes I said we play too many games. We need a couple more practice in-between.” Calloway says games are where skills are showcased. Practices are where they are built. One Western player who got better even after being cut multiple times was Steve Bagby. He started as a senior then played in the outfield at Coastal Carolina University. “He was one of those kids who just kept getting better and better and better,” says Calloway of Bagby. “He matured and he worked on a skill.” Both former coaches talked about dealing with parents. “I was blessed,” says Phares. “I really didn’t have problems mount. I had parents who were unhappy. I tried to explain things to them and — for the most part — it worked out OK. “You try to be fair.” Calloway says he had few problems with parents during his lengthy career. “You went to be straight up with them,” says Calloway. “You want the administration to back you.” Phares, who later coached in the college ranks, made a point of being a straight shooter when a college coach came to evaluate of one of his players or even others in the area. “I was always honest with him,” says Phares. “High school coaches can’t lie to those college coaches. You gotta tell the truth. “Most parents would rank their kid better in their skill level than where they’re at. It’s just nature.” Calloway was the same way. He’d know an athlete’s potential and his maturity level and would share that with recruiters. “You’ve got to have the skill,” says Calloway. “And you have to have the strength and the speed. I’ve had a kid who had the skill and strength but was slower than molasses and couldn’t play at the (NCAA) Division I level.” Many parents and players don’t realize that a “full-ride” scholarship is a rare thing in college baseball with rosters of 30-plus and 13.7 scholarships at the D-I level (and less at D-II, NAIA etc.). Phares became a Brooklyn Dodgers fan in 1955 the year the team won the World Series and his home is full of Dodgers memorabilia. Through his relationship with Dodgers scout Dale McReynolds (who signed Bob Welch, Jeff Hamilton and Steve Howe), there is a photo of Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda standing with Phares and Calloway. It was the New York Yankees — who won plenty and were on the “Game of the Week” on TV with Dizzy Dean and Peewee Reese at the mic as Calloway was growing up that became his team. The coaching veterans are not fans of some of baseball’s changes reflected in Major League Baseball and moving down. “It’s changed for the worse,” says Phares. “Now the baseball game has become kind of a side show and all the antics of the players. “They all have to flip their bats, stare down and do this and do that. I just don’t like it. It’s television. That’s what they want. I can’t stand to watch the Little League World Series anymore. They’re encouraging those kids to act like (the bat-flipping big leaguers). “When they get to high school they’re got a bad attitude.” Calloway sees a lot of self-centered behavior. “The the Little League to the high school you’re starting to see kids where it’s about ‘me’ instead of ‘we.’” He sees it reflected in Kokomo shrinking at the neighborhood park level. Many are leaving for travel ball and the youth leagues have shut down leaving them to play at Championship Park. “We had a park in about every little area of town — UCT, Southside, Indian Heights, Northside,” says Calloway. “Local teams now are dwindling.” When Calloway was coaching he would often have his top players on a travel or American Legion team and then there was a focus on the others. “If I could devote time and make my 6 through 9 players better than your 6 through 9 players I’m going to beat you because baseball is consistently up and down the lineup,” says Calloway. “We would work in the off-season to develop these kids.” Phares always enjoyed going to clinics and attended about four every year. He went with a purpose. “My goal is to find one thing that we can use that will fit the Taylor Titan program that we can use to make us better,” says Phares. “I don’t think most coaches have a program. They play their games and they spend all winter going to these (showcase) camps and saying this kid throws 95 mph.” The way Phares sees it, a testament to a program is one that can do well with multi-sport athletes who have chosen not to specialize in one area. “(Taylor) didn’t have enough athletes and had to pass them around,” says Phares.
“The Best We’ve Got: The Carl Erskine Story” — a film by Ted Green — made its Indianapolis debut Thursday, Aug. 18 at the Tobias Theater aka The Toby. After the screening presented by Heartland Film, Green told why he chose the documentary subject. “I like to do films that celebrate the triumph of the human spirit,” said Green, a producer, director, writer and researcher who partnered with Indiana Historical Society and created a cinematic portrayal of the man who has impacted the baseball world and so much more. “I just found myself drawn to this 95-year old guy up in Anderson, Ind., who was able to sort of move social mountains — not through bombast, not through money, but through grace, through humility, through servant leadership — and I will tell you that the last two years spent during production were the greatest two years of education of my life. “Maybe just maybe niceness and decency can win in the end.” Esteemed broadcaster Bob Costas summed it up in his on-screen introduction: “It was a story told softly as you’re about to see and hear about a story that cumulatively speaks to a person who’s deeply admirable.” Erskine, who became known as “The Gentleman from Indiana,” was born Dec. 13, 1926 in Anderson, won 122 games as a right-handed pitcher for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. Throwing an overhand curveball that Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully said could be seen in a snowstorm, Erskine struck out a then-record 14 batters in the 1953 World Series. “Oisk” — as Brooklyn fans called him — is the last living member of the 1955 team that won the World Series. That group is part of Roger Kahn’s celebrated book, “The Boys of Summer.” Hall of Famer and Indiana native Gil Hodges was also on that team. Erskine threw two no-hitters and the was the starting pitcher in the Dodgers’ first game in LA. But that’s just a part of Erskine’s tale. “When I was a little boy I had this feeling in my soul: Something good is going to happen to you,” said Erskine early in the film. I just had this feeling,” Carl and Betty Erskine will celebrate 75 years of marriage on Oct. 5. They raised four children — Danny, Gary, Susan and Jimmy. The latter was born in 1960 — less than a year after Carl retired from baseball — with Down syndrome. Rather than put Jimmy away in an institution, the Erskine showered him with love and treated him like the rest of the children. “We were an active family,” said Gary Erskine. “Jimmy was not left behind.” Jimmy got on to a school bus for the first time in 1972 and has gone on to lead an independent life. When Carl and Betty’s fourth child came along, Indiana had long took a dim view of the “feeble-minded” and in 1907 was the nation’s first state to enact compulsory sterilization to “prevent procreation of confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles and rapists.” Expected to live to around 35, Jimmy Erskine turned 62 this year. He worked at Applebee’s in Anderson for two decades and competed in Special Olympics for 50 (starting with the Indiana State Special Olympic Games in Terre Haute in 1970). The Carl and Betty Erskine Society raises money for the Special Olympics. The Erskine Personal Impact Curriculum (EPIC) is a set of materials for elementary, middle and high school students that uses stories from Carl’s life to “create lessons and activities with themes including empowerment, friendship, inclusion and leadership.” Thursday’s event was also a celebration of the Erskine connection to Special Olympics Indiana and helping to promote grace, humility, diversity, inclusion and servant leadership. When Carl was 10 and playing basketball in the alley with friends, 9-year-old Johnny Wilson wandered in. Carl’s question to the boy who happen to be black was, “Do you want to play?” It was the start of long friendship that lasted more than eight decades — one that will be commemorated with a mural in downtown Anderson in 2023. The boy who went on to be known as “Jumpin’” Johnny Wilson came from a family on welfare so he often ate at the Erskine house. Blacks were not welcome in some Anderson restaurants. They could not join the YMCA. They were restricted to the balcony of the movie theater. The Ted Green film made its world premier Aug. 11 at Anderson’s Paramount Theatre with an encore on Aug. 13. “Blacks were expected to be where they were supposed to be and the whites on the other side,” said Erskine. Carl’s parents — Matt and Berths — did not show that prejudice. General Motors Delco Remy inspector Matt Erskine “walked as easily among blacks as whites.” Bertha Erskine “was known for seeing the best in everyone and everything.” Said Carl, “She gave me the feeling that beauty is all around us. Don’t forget to look at it.” Carl went to the blacks-only swimming pool with Johnny Wilson. He didn’t go to places Johnny couldn’t and he sat in the balcony with his pal. They later played together on the Anderson High School basketball team. Wilson was chosen as Indiana Mr. Basketball in 1946 and went on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters and is in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. He competed in baseball, basketball, football and track and field at Anderson College (now Anderson University) and is in that school’s athletic hall of fame. Erskine, who was later head baseball coach at Anderson College for 12 years and is also in the Ravens Hall of Fame, shined on the diamond for Anderson High and Anderson American Legion Post 127. Throwing a tennis ball against a barn with a strike zone marked in chalk, Carl continually fanned his hero. Said Erskine, “I can’t count how many times I struck out Babe Ruth.” First discovered by Indianapolis scout Stan Feezle, Carl landed with the Dodgers after a stint in the U.S. Navy. The Dodgers were run by Branch Rickey, who signed the Hoosier hurler for $5,000. “I think there was an esteem there,” said Branch Rickey III of the relationship between his grandfather and Erskine. “He just had a deep, deep appreciation for what character could do individually. We loved what character could do for teams.” As a minor leaguer pitching against the big club, Erskine first met Jackie Robinson, who made a point of encouraging him his outing. Erskine made his Dodgers debut in 1948 and went on to toe the rubber for the franchise 335 times. Two Erskine-penned books are “Tales from the Dodgers Dugout” and “What I Learned from Jackie Robinson” and has been involved with Jackie Robinson Day activities with The Base Indy. One day after Erskine had shown kindness to wife and son — Rachel Robinson and Jackie Jr. — Robinson expressed his appreciation. “‘Come on, Jackie, it’s as natural to me as breathing,’” said Erskine of his response. But Jackie was always kind of surprised. He said to me, ‘this black and white thing doesn’t seem to bother you.’ I told him about Johnny my buddy. He said, ‘Carl, I see life divided. You seem to see life connected.’” When Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella was paralyzed in an auto accident in 1958, the first teammate to visit him in the hospital was Erskine. A man of faith who met Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Erskine was there at the start of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Erskine lent his talent to Dale McMillen aka “Mr. Mac” with the Wildcat League for youth in Fort Wayne, Ind. An insurance salesman and a bank president in his hometown, Carl has been a civic leader along with Betty. Anderson has Erskine Elementary School (a video message from Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda at the dedication appears in the film). There’s also was is now known as Anderson Youth Baseball & Softball at Erskine Park. The broadcast premier of “The Best We’ve Got: The Carl Erskine Story” is slated for 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22 on WFYI in Indianapolis with PBS stations around Indiana expected to follow. As well as being part of the Heartland International Film Festival Oct. 6-16 in Indianapolis, screenings are planned for Sept. 29 at Eagles Theater in Wabash, Ind., Oct. 13 at Muncie Civic Center with dates to be determined at Artcraft Theater in Franklin, Ind., and Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Indiana native Gil Hodges has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and he may be getting another posthumous honor. Hodges was born in Princeton in 1924 and grew in Petersburg in southern Indiana. He attended Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., and Bronze Star recipient as a part of the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II. He was involved in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. He was a slugging first baseman for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers before managing the “Miracle Mets” to the World Series title in 1969 and dying of a heart attack in 1972. In his 35 looks on a Hall of Fame ballot, Hodges obtained the necessary 75 percent of the vote from the Golden Days Period committee for enshrinement in Cooperstown. The induction ceremony is slated for July 24. Hodges was in the inaugural class of Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame inductees in 1979. A water-crossing structure in Columbus, Ind., might be among his next recognition. A resolution passed through both chambers of the Indiana House to ask the Indiana Department of Transportation to ponder renaming the passageway on I-69 over the East Fork of the White River the “Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge.” The bridge section is in Columbus. The resolution was co-sponsored by State Representatives Cindy Ledbetter (R-Newburgh) and Shane Lindauer (R-Jasper). “Resolutions don’t need to be signed by the governor,” says Adam Aasen, press secretary for Indiana House Republicans. “The bridge isn’t automatically renamed yet, although INDOT often takes these resolutions into strong consideration.” The famed son of Indiana already has several places bearing his name: • A bridge spanning the East Fork of the White River in northern Pike County on S.R. 57 is named for Hodges. • Princeton Community High School plays on Gil Hodges Field. • The diamond at Saint Joseph’s College, which closed in 2017, is also named for Hodges. • A large mural of Hodges stands at the corner of S.R. 57 and S.R. 61 in Petersburg. • There already is a Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and Gil Hodges Way in New York. • Randy’s Americana Cafe’ in Petersburg has a huge Hodges memorabilia display. A baseball-style lunch is planned in Gil’s honor on April, which would have been his 98th birthday. • Hodges wore 14. Both the Mets and Dodgers have retired that number.
That’s because his grandparents — Don and Bonnie Barrett — lived in Princeton, Ind., and Don played American Legion ball with Hodges — who went on to fame with the Brooklyn Dodgers — in the early 1940’s. When Gil joined the team Don moved from shortstop to third base.
“He always had something for me to work on,” says Zach of his grandpa. “He knew the game really well.”
One of Zach’s cousin is Aaron Barrett. Before Don Barrett died he got to see Aaron pitch in the big leagues.
“He was super-proud of Aaron,” says Zach. “He would be super-proud to know I was hired at Princeton — his alma mater.”
Gil Hodges Field has a different look these days, including turf in the infield. Barrett’s players got a chance to get on the carpet for the first time just this week.
“The school corporation put a ton of money into it,” says Barrett. “There are all sorts of upgrades.”
Jason Engelbrecht was the head coach at Evansville Central High School when Zach’s cousins Aaron Barrett (who has come back from multiple injuries as a pro), Drew Barrett (a left-handed-hitting infielder who played two years at Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, Ill., and two at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky.) and Ryan Barrett were playing for the Bears.
Jason Barrett (Zach’s older brother who played at Ball State University) was a hitting star at Central for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Paul Gries. The Central facility is now known as Paul Gries Field.
Engelbrecht was later head coach at Princeton Community and is now Tigers athletic director. He brought Zach on as an assistant. With the cancellation of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 is to be Barrett’s first one with games.
Princeton Community went 10-16 in 2019. A number of regulars remain from that team.
“We have a pretty good nucleus,” says Barrett.
The Tigers go in with a group that includes senior left-handed pitcher/outfielder Rhett Thompson, senior shortstop Lance Stuckey, senior corner infielder/right-handed pitcher Briar Christy and junior catcher/pitcher/third baseman Sean Stone.
The 6-foot-7 Thompson was the mound starter in the 2019 IHSAA Class 3A Vincennes Lincoln Sectional championship game against the host Alices.
Stone is already getting looks from college baseball programs.
Gerit Bock, a 2020 Princeton graduate, is now on the roster at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind.
With Barrett serving as an assistant on Princeton Community head football coach Jared Maners’ staff, there was no IHSAA Limited Contact Period baseball activity in the fall. Players began to get rolling in January.
Made up primarily of seventh and eighth graders with some sixth graders, that squad plays from March to May.
“We have good coaches at that level that understand the game,” says Barrett. “It’s not about wins and losses at that level. Are the kids having fun? Are they getting better? Are they part of the team?”
Barrett, who splits his work day between teaching high school Health and middle school Physical Education, will walk the halls to find athletes.
Thorough his own experience and observation, he realizes that what they are at 13 and 17 may be vastly different.
“I’ve played with kids absolute studs in middle school and barely played as seniors,” says Barrett. “On the other side, there are those (smallish or uncoordinated kids) who stick with it and become very good varsity players.
“You just never know. Kids mature differently.”
The Cub team practices and plays on Gil Hodges Field, which features lights.
“I want those kids to feel like they’re a part of us,” says Barrett. “In years past, they’ve worked out with our varsity guys.”
That’s given the older ones a chance to mentor the younger ones.
“They understand that they are the future,” says Barrett. “They put Princeton first.
“They’re not selfish.”
Barrett is a 2004 graduate of Reitz High School in Evansville, where the 6-foot-5 athlete was a standout in football, basketball and baseball. He played receiver and safety for John Hart on the gridiron, power forward or center for Michael Adams on the hardwood and pitcher, shortstop and center fielder for Steve Johnston on the diamond.
Hart, a member of the Reitz and Greater Evansville Football halls of fame, impressed Barrett with the way he went about his business and the relationships he built with his players. Unlike some coaches, Hart was not intimidating but approachable.
“He was like a second dad,” says Barrett. “I was able to talk with him.
“He was good about taking care of the small things and being disciplined. He was a very smart coach.”
Nick Hart, John’s son and head football coach at Gibson Southern, is a good friend of Barrett’s.
Barrett was all-city, all-SIAC and Indiana Football Coaches Association All-State as junior and senior, AP All-State and an Indiana Mr. Football Finalist as senior.
Adams, who is still on the bench at Reitz, got Barrett’s attention when he as attending basketball camps as an elementary school student.
“His attention to detail was apparent at that age,” says Barrett, who saw varsity minutes as a freshman and became a starter as a sophomore. “He was very strict but he knew how to relate to players.
“He was about as good an X’s and O’s coach as you’ll ever see. He would get you ready and prepared mentally and physically.
“I’m glad to see all the success he’s had lately.”
Barrett won four basketball letters at Reitz and paced the team in rebounding three times. He was all-SIAC as a junior and senior and honorable mention All-State as a senior.
Johnston gave Barrett the chance to experience varsity ball as a freshman and made him a starter the next spring.
“Everybody enjoy playing for him,” says Barrett of Johnston. “He had a good baseball mind.”
Barrett completed his Reitz baseball career second all-time in both hits (95) and slugging percentage (.576). He was named all-Southern Indiana Athletic Conference as a junior and Associated Press All-State as a senior when he was also selected in the 38th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Florida Marlins and chosen to play in the IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series.
“DC — we called him the ‘Mayor of Olney,’” says Barrett of veteran skipper Conley. “He was a mentor and taught you about doing things right. He wasn’t messing around. But he could flip the stitch and be able to relate to us.
“He obviously knew the game very well. He was tough to play for. He put a lot of pressure on you. You needed to come up big and handle situations. I had my share of butt-chewings. He got max effort out of all of us and we respected the heck out of him.”
Similar to Conley, Peterson was Old School in his approach. He believed in fundamentals and discipline.
“He was not afraid to run you and do things like that when he didn’t get the most of us,” says Barrett. “I learned a lot of life lessons from my high school and college coaches.”
Barrett uses drills in his high school practices that he learned from Conley and Peterson.
Barrett played in 116 games as a third baseman for the MTSU Blue Raiders. He hit .329 with 12 doubles and 32 runs batted in as a junior and . 383 with nine home runs, 16 doubles and 46 RBI’s in as a senior.
Melton was 21 when the corner infielder and outfielder came to Evansville in 1967 and hit nine home runs and drove in 72 runs. He made his Major League Baseball debut with Chicago in 1968 and led the American League in home runs in 1971 with 33.
Herrmann was a 19-year-old catcher in 1966 and was with Chicago briefly in 1967 before coming back to Evansville in 1967 and 1968. He stuck with the parent White Sox in 1969.
Cotton Nash, who had been a basketball All-American at the University of Kentucky and played in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers and San Francisco Warrior and ABA with the Kentucky Colonels, was played with Evansville in 1967, 1968 and 1970, belting 33 homers in the first season of the Triplets.
In a group shot, left-handed pitcher Lester Clinkscales is in the middle of the frame. His son, Sherard Clinkscales, was a standout at Purdue who was selected in the first round of the 1992 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Kansas City Royals and is now athletic director at Indiana State University.
Wirthwein captures roughly the first century of Evansville baseball in a book published March 2, 2020.
Through library files, digitized publications and the resources of the Society for American Baseball Research, he uncovered details about teams and characters going back to the Civil War, which ended in 1865.
Bosse Field, which is now the third-oldest professional baseball park in use (behind Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field) came on the scene in 1915.
Growing up, Wirthwein played youth baseball and then plenty of slow pitch softball.
He graduated from Harrison High School in 1972. He earned a journalism degree at Butler University in Indianapolis in 1976 and took job at The Brownsburg (Ind.) Guide, where he covered everything from sports to the city council and was also a photographer.
After that, he covered trap shooting for Trap & Field Magazine and had a short stint as editor at the Zionsville (Ind.) Times.
Desiring more in his paycheck, Wirthwein went back to Butler and began preparing for his next chapter. He worked toward a Masters of Business Administration (which was completed in 1991) and worked a decade at AT&T and then more than 20 years managing several departments at CNO Financial Group (formerly Conseco) before retiring in June 2019.
“I got lost for 30-plus years,” says Wirthwein, who has returned to his writing roots.
About three years before his last day at CNO he began researching his Evansville baseball book.
“I slowly assembled and had a manuscript shortly before retirement,” says Wirthwein, who is married with four daughters and resides in Fishers, Ind.
When it came time to find someone to produce the book, he found The History Press, a division of Arcadia Publishing that specializes in regional history.
It took a bit of digging to unearth the treasures from the early years. He was amazed that little had been written about the pre-Bosse Field era.
He did find details on teams like Resolutes, Blues, Brewers, Hoosiers and Blackbirds — all of which seemed to have monetary difficulties and scandals swirling around them.
“The whole 1800’s was just a mess,” says Wirthwein. “Teams were coming and going. Financial failures were everywhere.”
Jumping contracts was very commonplace in 19th century baseball. They were often not worth the paper they were written on since a player could get an offer for more money and be on the next train to that city.
To try to combat this, Evansville joined the League Alliance in 1877. It was a group of major and minor league teams assembled to protect player contracts.
It always seemed to be about money.
The 1895 Evansville Blackbirds led the Class B Southern League for much of the season. But, being nearly destitute, the club began throwing games for a sum that Wirthwein discovered to be about $1,500.
The Atlanta Crackers were supposed to be the beneficiary of the blown ballgames, but it was the Nashville Seraphs who won the pennant. Evansville finished in third — 4 1/2 games back.
In 1901, catcher Frank Roth hit 36 home runs for the Evansville River Rats of the Three-I League.
“The Evansville paper thought that to be a world record,” says Wirthwein.
The wooden park on Louisiana, which was built in 1889 near the Evansville stockyards, was in disrepair by 1914 when it collapsed and injured 42 spectators.
Seeing an opportunity, Evansville mayor Benjamin Bosse sprang into action.
“The city had bought this big plot of land,” says Wirthwein. “(Bosse Field) was built in a matter of months.
“He was ready.”
Unusual for its time, Bosse Field was meant to be a multi-purpose facility from the beginning and became home not only to baseball, but football games, wrestling matches and more.
Wirthstein’s book tells the story of Evansville native Sylvester Simon, who played for the St. Louis Browns in 1923 and 1924.
In the fall of 1926, he lost three fingers on his left hand and part of his palm while working in a furniture factory.
He came back to baseball using a customized grip on his bat and with a glove that was repaired using a football protector and played for the Evansville Hubs in 1927 and had pro stops with the Central League’s Fort Wayne (Ind.) Chiefs in 1928 and 1930 and played his last season with the Three-I League’s Quincy (Ill.) Indians in 1932. His bat and glove are at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Hall of Famers Edd Roush (1912-13 Yankees/River Rats), Chuck Klein (1927 Hubs), Hank Greenberg (1931 Hubs) and Warren Spahn (1941 Bees) also spent time in Evansville. Roush is from Oakland City, Ind. Klein hails from Indianapolis.
Huntingburg native Bob Coleman played three seasons in the majors and managed 35 years in the minors, including stints in Evansville.
The Limestone League came to town thanks to travel restrictions during World War II. The Detroit Tigers conducted spring training in Evansville. Indiana also hosted teams in Bloomington (Cincinnati Reds), French Lick (Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox), Lafayette (Cleveland Indians), Muncie (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Terre Haute (White Sox in 1945).
Wirthwein’s research found plenty about barnstorming black baseball teams in the early 1900’s.
In the 1920’s, the Reichert Giants represented Evansville in the Negro Southern League. The Reichert family was fanatic about baseball. Manson Reichert went on to be mayor (1943-48).
“(The Reichert Giants) played semipros when not playing league games,” says Wirthwein. “They lobbied hard to play at Bosse Field when the Class B (Hubs) were out of town, but they kept going turned down.
Games were played at the Louisiana Street park, Eagles Park or at Evansville’s all-black high school, Lincoln.
“They started playing games opposite the Hubs and outdrew them every single time. The Bosse Field people finally acquiesced.”
In the 1950’s, the Evansville Colored Braves were in the Negro Southern League and were rivals of an independent black team, the Evansville Dodgers. Games were played at Bosse Field and Lincoln High.
What about the “Global” disaster?
Evansville-based real estate tycoon Walter Dilbeck Jr. conceived of the Global Baseball League in 1966. It was to be a third major circuit to compete with the American League and National League. There would be teams all over globe, including the Tokyo Dragons from Japan, and the GBL was headquartered in Evansviile.
“It’s a pretty remarkable story,” says Wirthwein. “The guy just wouldn’t give up.”
Happy Chandler, commissioner of baseball in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers, was brought in as GBL commissioner.
“I had never heard of Oscar Charleston,” says Beer. “When I found out he was from Indiana I was floored.”
The National Baseball Hall of Famer from Indianapolis and long-time Negro Leagues star just wasn’t on Beer’s radar.
With a sense of “Indiana patriotism,” Beer decided he wanted to know more.
Around 2012, he got serious about his research and decided to write a comprehensive book about the “Hoosier Comet” and his times.
“I had to learn everything about the Negro Leagues and African American culture and history in the early 20th Century,” says Beer, a Society for American Baseball Research member. “I was a baseball guy and had read a good deal of baseball history, but not black baseball.
“I looked for every mention I could find of Charleston. I did a thorough investigative job. I wanted it to be pretty definitive. The thing about biography is you can’t make things up. It’s not like philosophy.”
Beer won the Seymour Medal that recognizes the author(s) of the best book of baseball history or biography first published during the preceding calendar year and the Larry Ritter Book Award presented for the best new book set primarily in the Deadball Era.
Between 1924-48, he managed the Harrisburg Giants, Hilldale Club, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Toledo Crawfords, Toledo-Indianapolis Crawfords, Philadelphia Stars and Brooklyn Brown Dodgers plus East All-Stars, West All-Stars and Negro National League All-Stars.
Beer’s first reading about Charleston online showed him to be a bully and someone with an uncontrollable temper and not well-liked.
“That’s not true,” says Beer after much more research. “He got into fights on the field, but not that much more than other players did at the time.
“He was very well-liked and charming. He smiled and was charismatic.”
Beer learned that Charleston had an affinity for billiards and playing the piano. He taught himself Spanish when he was in Cuba.
“He was intellectual and socially ambitious,” says Beer. “He was fascinating. I expected a mean jock. That’s not who he was.”
Beer, who has also published a blog about Charleston, discovered that Charleston broke the color line for paid big league scouts when Brooklyn Dodgers president and general manager Branch Rickey put him on the payroll in 1945 — two years before Jackie Robinson played for Rickey’s club.
“I can’t find record of anyone who was paid to do that before that,” says Beer. “(Top Dodgers scout) Clyde Sukeforth is how we know about that.”
Sukeforth not only helped bring Robinson to the Dodgers, but another future Hall of Famer Roy Campanella. Charleston knew well about the catcher since he played and managed in Campy’s hometown of Philadelphia.
After getting his undergraduate degree at Indiana and master’s and doctorates at Texas, Beer worked as vice president of publications and editor in chief at Intercollegiate Studies Institute Books. ISI produces books written by academics intended for an audience outside their own disciplines.
Beer is the principal partner and co-founder of American Philanthropic, LLC, a national firm that provides strategic consulting and services to non-profit organizations. His Phoenix office is three blocks from SABR headquarters at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and he helps SABR with fundraising. He also attends meetings of the Hemond-Flame Delhi chapter (the Indianapolis SABR chapter is named for Oscar Charleston).
While Beer is working on an anthology of Negro Leagues writing, his next book will not be about baseball. It will focus on Fr. Francisco Garces (1738-1781), a Spanish missionary priest who led an expedition across the Mojave Desert.
Jeremy is married to Kara, who is from the Phoenix area. Brother Jonah Beer is married (Sara) and lives in Napa, Calif. Sister Amanda Woodiel is married (Thomas) with five children and resides in Goshen, Ind. Ken Beer, who ran a real estate school and was a world traveler, died in 2018. Lynne Beer passed away in 2009.
But long before these happenings, the Jasper Reds were on the diamond scene.
Established as the Jasper Acmes in 1893 and soon changed to the Red Jackets (then Reds) to match the colors of early uniforms, the Reds have been a baseball presence in Jasper ever since. The only interruptions were in 1918, 1922 and 1964-66.
In the early days, players would share in the team’s profits — if there were any — so the team was referred to as semi-pro. That label stuck even after the pay stopped.
There’s no age limit for players. For years, most were in their 20’s and 30’s. This year, there were two 30-somethings among mostly college-age athletes.
It was the Reds’ seventh NBC World Series appearance with 1993, 1994, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 being the other years.
The 2018 Reds went to Louisville to play in the Bluegrass World Series, an event that features former major leaguers.
After Jasper High is done for the season, the Reds play home games at Alvin C. Ruxer Field (formerly Recreation Field).
“They are good to us,” says business manager Bob Alles, noting that Jasper High head coach Terry Gobert mowed the grass on a Sunday so it would be ready for the Reds. “We get (cooling) fans in the dugouts. They bend over backward to help us.
“So many people are good to us. People in Jasper want to keep this team going. We go from one year to the next.”
Indiana Baseball Hall of Famer Ruxer once pitched for the Reds and was a big baseball backer. He set up trust funds for the team that helped to defray season costs.
Dating back to 1903, the Reds have also played at South Side Park, Jasper Academy and Gutzweiler Park.
Bob Alles has been with the Reds for 47 years. The 1971 Jasper graduate (he played for Indiana Baseball Hall of Famer Don Noblitt) who had one at-bat for the University of Evansville and became a coach (he was an assistant to Hall of Famer Ray Howard) and teacher as well as Reds manager from 1974-93 and 1996.
“I’ve poured my life into this thing,” says Bob Alles. “It takes in inordinate amount of time to get liability insurance, uniforms and equipment.
“It’s very, very time-consuming.”
A retired school teacher, Bob Alles recruits players and raises funds, trying to keep costs down for his athletes, especially the collegians with student loans.
“The easiest thing to get is the players,” says Bob Alles. “The other things are far more difficult.”
Like finding opponents. There are none in close proximity to Jasper.
“When teams come here it’s a free game for them (except gas money),” says Bob Alles. “We have a little money for umpires and a field.
“What I want from (opponents) is two games. We’ll play anybody. It’s very hard to get teams. That’s why we try to play a doubleheader.”
The weather was unkind to the Reds this season with seven rainouts.
“We try to play at least 20 games,” says Bob Alles. “We used to play 30 and 40. We can’t find that many any more.”
Bill Alles, brother of Bob, has served as Reds manager since 1999. Another brother, Tom Alles, is team historian. He wrote a 10-part series in 1993 as the team hit the 100-year mark.
Roman “Romie” Pfeffer was a star for the Reds in the ‘30s and ‘40s and was in the first class of the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979. Romie and his two brothers — Revard aka “Riff” and Urban aka “Nigg” — were on the Jasper team that played in the Midwest Tournament at Terre Haute, where National/Indiana Baseball Hall of Famer Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown was commissioner.
Bob Alles played three summers (1970-72) for Jasper American Legion Post 147 — two for “Nigg” Pfeffer (good friend of Indiana Baseball Hall of Famer Gil Hodges, who may have suited up for the Reds for one game in 1941) and one for Noblitt.
Van Lingle Mungo pitched a few games for Jasper during a diamond career that included time with the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants.
Bob, Bill and Tom’s father — Jerome “Chick” Alles — played for the Reds from 1950-63 and was a three-term mayor, concluding with 1991. All four men are in the Greater Evansville Baseball Hall of Fame along with several others with ties to Jasper.
Brenda Alles, Bob’s wife, has also provided support throughout the years.
“We just asked guys to play hard,” says Bob Alles. “If they hustle, I can live with losses. It’s an experience. We like a challenge. We love baseball.
“My brother (Bill) and I don’t get paid to do this. We give money to do this. I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had all these years. It’s all about relationships in life. How did you treat people?
A group of concerned community leaders have been making a difference in the urban areas of Boston with The BASE and it is starting to branch out in Indianapolis.
The BASE is a not-for-profit organization that provides free-of-charge baseball and softball training and competition plus mentoring, education and life support to inner-city young men and women.
It helps them overcome the negative stereotypes and barriers that come with single-parent homes, government housing and poverty and to enjoy athletic and academic achievement.
These young people from “at-risk” areas are given a chance to believe in themselves because someone else believes in them.
A video for The BASE puts it this way: “Too many people keep saying what our young folks can’t do and where they’re going to end up … We will strive and achieve.”
Founded in Massachusetts by Robert Lewis Jr., The BASE seeks to change mindsets and perceptions by providing opportunities to these kids.
“Every child deserves to be educated, safe, healthy, warm, fed and un-abused,” says Lewis. “(The BASE) is a passion point. You can take an opportunity and find things young folks love to do. It could be baseball, football. It could be arts or technology.
“Our young folks have to participate in the 21st century work force. They have to be educated and skilled to do that.”
With support from many, programming is free to these young people.
“Money isn’t going to be the determining factor to keep them from playing the greatest game in the world,” says Lewis. “Every child can love a great game and also participate at the highest level.”
Lewis and The BASE celebrated the 40th year of the Boston Astros at Fenway Park — home of the Boston Red Sox. The BASE has a facility in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood and a stadium complex with first-class learning facilities is in the works.
The BASE carries this motto: Success Begins Here.
“Excellence is the new minimum and we’re going to keep pushing,” says Lewis. “I got into this to really change the trajectory for black and Latino boys.
“That’s a moral standard. That’s where we start. How do we solve problems?”
Lewis counts former Red Sox and current Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein as a friend and financial supporter of The BASE and the organization is now in Chicago with plans to open a clubhouse later this month in Grant Park.
Lewis says The BASE has no bigger fan than famed writer and broadcaster Peter Gammons, who calls the organization the “best urban baseball program in America today.”
Leading the charge to serve urban youth in central Indiana through The BASE is Rob Barber.
“We consider them to be under-served assets,” says Barber of the young people. “Help and love is on the way.”
Barber, a former Indiana University player and long-time member of the baseball community, is the president and chief executive officer of The BASE Indianapolis. He is working to form partnerships with individuals and businesses.
He’s gone inside baseball circles, including Play Ball Indiana, Major League Baseball-backed Indianapolis RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), travel organizations, high school and colleges. He’s also gotten the ears of politicians, civic leaders and more.
A launch team has been formed and board, staff and advisory positions are being filled. Current and former big league ballplayers with central Indiana ties lending their support include Tucker Barnhart, Justin Masterson, Kevin Plawecki and Drew Storen. Barber says more are expected.
Barber has relationships all around the baseball community, including with instructors Chris Estep (Roundtripper Sports Academy) and Jay Lehr (Power Alley Baseball Academy), Indianapolis Indians president and general manager Randy Lewandowski, Warren Central High School head coach Emmitt Carney and Kansas City Royals are scout Mike Farrell.
Plans call for The BASE Indianapolis to build a clubhouse or two around the city where kids can come year-round for assistance — whether that’s with their athletic skills or homework. The group partners with many colleges to provide scholarships.
Last summer, the Indianapolis RBI team played in the Pittsburgh Urban Classic. The GameChangers Baseball Club, based in Canonsburg, Pa., and led by Elkhart (Ind.) Central High School and Bethel College graduate Greg Kloosterman and business partner Kristi Hilbert, has also partnered with The BASE.
(Kloosterman) loves the model that we have,” says Lewis. “You earn your spot. It’s not based on pay-for-play. It’s a loving commitment.
Later, Barber worked with Jeff Mercer Sr. (father of current IU head baseball coach Jeff Mercer Jr.) and helped form the Indiana Bulls travel organization.
Barber founded USAthletic and was an assistant coach to Dan Ambrose at Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis the past seven years.
To concentrate on The BASE Indianapolis, he is turning over USAthletic to Wes Whisler and stepping away from his high school coaching duties.
In one visit to The BASE in Boston, Rob and wife Nichole met Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. The Barbers have two children. Mary is in graduate school in Nashville, Tenn. Alec is an accounting analyst for Roche in Indianapolis.
Rob took Alec to Boston and spent three days with The BASE. That convinced Lewis of the level of the elder Barber’s commitment.
Lewis and his Boston kids showed their appreciation when they came out to support Barber’s team at a tournament in Indianapolis. They were there with hugs and positivity.
“Folks like Rob are shifting the paradigm,” says Lewis. “Baseball is a game for everybody. We want to support him.
“I love Rob like a brother. He doesn’t have to do this at all. The safest thing he could do is keep going.”
“But it’s about family.”
For more information, contact Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-840-6488. Contact Lewis at Rlewisjr@thebase.org.
Founded in Boston, The BASE serves urban youth through baseball, softball and educational opportunities and is expanding to Indianapolis. (The BASE Graphic)
Bear, a 1981 Ben Davis graduate, pitched seven innings in a semifinal victory against Richmond and three innings of relief in a championship game triumph against Fort Wayne Northrop to wrap up a stellar prep career with a state crown.
Ralph David Bear Jr. left high school with a career 0.61 earned run average with five no-hitters and two perfect games, including three no-no’s and one perfecto as a senior.
“Coach Cox would let me throw 10 innings every three days no matter what,” says Bear, referring to Giants coach Ken Cox, who would be inducted into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1988 and finished his career with 440 victories. Besides the state title, his team earned seven sectionals, four regionals, two semistates and a state runner-up finish (1980). “I loved doing it.”
Bear cherishes his time with Cox.
“He was a man I dearly loved and one of the most respected coaches I know in the state of Indiana,” says Bear.
A couple weeks after regularly taking the ball for Cox’s Giants, the right-hander was on his way to Johnson City, Tenn., to begin his professional baseball career.
He appeared in 168 games (20 as a starter) and went 25-21 with a 3.68 earned run average, 193 strikeouts and 145 walks in 363 innings.
His manager at Johnson City was Johnny Lewis, who later became the hitting coach in St. Louis.
“He was a very revered man,” says Bear of Lewis, a former outfielder with Cardinals and New York Mets. “I like the way he ran his team.”
Bear was also appreciative of the way Cardinals minor league pitching instructor Bob Milliken explained the craft. Milliken, who had played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, was a bullpen coach and pitching coach in St. Louis.
The 2018 prep season marked Bear’s 12th on the Ben Davis coaching staff and his third as head coach.
“That is a very tough conference for baseball,” says Bear. “It’s a grinder.
“You better come to play every night. If not, you’ll get your socked knocked off.”
Bear bases his program on concepts like honesty, work, respect and hustle.
“If you’re honest with the kids, you get more out of them,” says Bear, 56. “You also have to believe in them.
“I tell the boys, if you work hard and play the game the right way, good things happen for you. You have to respect it and hustle.”
Reinforcing that message is Bear’s assistant coaches — Kyle Cox and Terrence Davis with the varsity, Kent Spillman with the junior varsity and Robert Jackson with the freshmen. Cox (no relation to Ken Cox) was an IHSBCA North/South All-Star for Ben Davis in 2005.
With nearly 4,400 students, Ben Davis is one of the biggest high schools in Indiana. The graduating class of 2018 alone was over 1,000.
Bear notes that 55 to 60 players come out for baseball and he keeps 14 for the varsity, 14 or 15 for the JV and 15 to 17 for the freshmen. The latter squad tends to be bigger to “give kids a chance to develop.”
At the varsity level, Bear talks to his players about always being ready even if they’re not in the starting lineup.
“You never know when you’re going to get that call,” says Bear. “When you get it, make the best of it.”
Going to Ivy Tech Northeast in Fort Wayne are shortstop/pitcher Tyler Duncan, outfielder/pitcher Garison Poteet and pitcher/second baseman Ian Schilling.
Former Ben Davis players going into their sophomore years as collegians are Logan Butrum at Wabash College and Isaiah Davis at Vincennes University.
Besides Ben Davis, Bear also coaches summer travel ball. This year, he is with the Evoshield Canes Midwest 15U team (The Indiana Outlaws merged with the Canes a few years ago). The current 15U squad has played in tournaments at Grand Park in Westfield and also in Ohio, North Carolina and, last week, the World Wood Bat Association 2012 Grads or 15U National Championship at Perfect Game Park at LakePoint in Cartersville, Ga.
Bear notes that Perfect Game USA has imposed a pitch count rule with a limit of 95 in a day. Since 2017, the IHSAA has also had a pitch count rule (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days).
“I like the way they do it now,” says Bear. “Kids do a lot of throwing these days.”
David is the son of the late Ralph David Bear Sr. and Beverly Kay Bear and has three younger siblings — Richard, Rock and Stacey.
Bear’s girlfriend is Gretchen Atkins. He has a son (Coy), daughter (Cassie) and grandson (Bane, 3). Gretchen’s daughter is Stephanie Atkins. The Bear house also has a dog named Bear. The petite pooch is a Yorkshire/Australian Terrier mix.
David Bear, a 1981 Ben Davis High School graduate, is now the head baseball coach of the Indianapolis-based Giants. (Ben Davis Photo)
Former Ben Davis High School baseball player C.J. Vaughn (left) meets with Giants head baseball coach David Bear. A 1981 BDHS graduate, Bear came back to his alma mater as an assistant coach and has led the program the past three seasons.