ASHLAND, Ky. – Thirteen inductees, including seven more from the Ashland Tomcat baseball state championship “Dynasty Era” of 1965-1969, will be honored at the third annual CP-1 Ashland Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony on Aug. 19.
A Kentucky Historic Marker recognizing Baseball in Central Park will be officially dedicated on the same day. Ceremonies begin at 1 p.m. beside Ernie Chattin Field in Central Park.
“We’re thrilled to be able to add to our Hall of Fame with these outstanding players and umpires who contributed so much to Ashland baseball,” said CP-1 Hall of Fame chairman Mark Maynard. “These are some of the best players to ever put on cleats and step onto the big diamond in the park.”
The park’s legacy of producing top-notch baseball players is noted in the Kentucky Historic Marker.
“This marker stands as a testament to baseball in Ashland and it belongs to everybody whoever played, watched a game or had anything to do with the success of Ashland baseball in Central Park,” Maynard said. “This park means so much to so many in Ashland. When we started fundraising for the marker, we had what we needed in only a few days. The support was overwhelming.”
Maynard said David Carter and Jim Host were instrumental in “getting the ball rolling” on the historic marker. “It wouldn’t have happened without them and we appreciate the Kentucky Historical Society for allowing the marker to be placed.”
The 13-member HOF class includes some of the best pitchers and hardest throwers in Ashland history, a pair of power-hitting brothers, outstanding umpires, all-around athletes and a Holy Family lefty who also became one of the best coaches around.
Three members of the 2017 class are being honored posthumously: Nard Pergrem, Dale Griffith and Steve Hemlepp.
The other 10 honorees are: J.D. Browne, David “Bo” Carter, Joe Conley, Kevin Gothard, Mike Gothard, Tim Huff, John Mullins, Mike Smith, Jim Speaks and John Thomas.
The 2017 class brings to 36 the total of CP-1 Hall of Fame members since inductions began in 2015.
Here is a snapshot of this year’s honorees:
A left-handed pitcher for Holy Family High School in the early 1960s, Browne was crafty on the mound. When his playing days were over, he coached many of the Ashland Tomcat players who were part of the state championship dynasty era.
He played on the 1967 and 1968 Tomcat state championship teams as a first baseman and pitcher, where he was undefeated in two seasons on the mound. Carter was 6-0 his senior season. He also played on the 1964 Little League state championship team.
Determined athlete for the Ashland Tomcats who was a member of all three state championship teams in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Conley made the All-State team as a senior and made a game-saving catch. He later became an umpire who enjoyed a solid minor league career.
An all-around star player in the late 1970s and early 1980s for the Ashland Tomcats whose high baseball IQ served his team well. He was the player the Tomcats wanted at the plate. Gothard later went on to be a two-year captain for the University of Kentucky.
A natural athlete and leader, this big catcher was known for his strong arm and big bat that produced some mammoth home runs in Central Park. Gothard was a star for the Ashland Tomcats in football and baseball in the mid 1970s. He went on to be a captain in football at Vanderbilt.
EDWIN “DALE” GRIFFITH
One of the most sought after and respected Southeast Regional Umpires. Dale’s 32-year career began at the age of 15 in Central Park. A keen knowledge of Baseball Rules and Regulations, Dale trained and equipped many young men to become umpires.
An excellent and dependable catcher who was a member of all three Ashland Tomcat state championship teams from 1966 to 1968. He handled a stable of outstanding pitchers and came up with the big hit when it was needed. He was All-State as a senior. Hemlepp played on the first Little League state championship team in 1961.
Pitcher on the Ashland Tomcats 1967 and 1968 state champions and was the ace of the 1969 state runners-up. He outdueled Don Gullett in the regional tournament in ’69. He was part of back-to-back Little League state championship teams in 1963 and 1964.
An all-around athlete at Ashland, Mullins made the baseball team as a freshman in 1967. He played on the ’67 and ’68 championship teams, the ’69 runner-up team and was the star player in 1970. Mullins played on back-to-back Little League state champions in 1963 and 1964.
A standout athlete at Ashland High School in the early 1940s, he once had a perfect season without an error at CP-1. He played baseball for Duke University and turned down a contract with the Chicago White Sox to focus on his engineering degree and family.
Gritty second baseman on the undefeated 1966 and 1967 state champion Ashland Tomcats. He was an All-State selection in 1966 who had one of the best gloves on the team. Smith was also on the city’s first Little League state championship team in 1961.
Hard-throwing right-hander who raised eyebrows with his blazing fastball. Speaks played for the Ashland Tomcats in the early 1960s and dominated on the CP-1 field where scouts came to watch him throw. He had several tryouts with professional teams.
Powerful hitter for the Ashland Tomcats, Thomas was a catcher on the 1966 state championship team. He hit .419 as a junior and .371 with five home runs as a senior. He was part of state championship teams in Little League (1961), Babe Ruth (1963) and American Legion (1964).