ASHLAND, Ky. – You might say Greg Swift had the ultimate baseball experience in Ashland.
Swift, one of 14 inductees into the Ashland Baseball CP-1 Hall of Fame on Saturday, started his Little League career on 17th Street and pitched back-to-back no-hitters for the Phillies with 28 strikeouts in his first two starts.
In his last high school game with the Ashland Tomcats he blasted a pair of three-run homers against Paintsville in the 1978 regional tournament.
And there were more highlights in between.
Pete Wonn, one of several coaches who were instrumental in his development as a baseball player, taught Swift how to pitch by throwing with him every morning in his side yard.
As a 12-year-old, Swift threw a perfect game against Somerset in the Little League State Tournament and then lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to Lexington in the state finals when Steve Burbage belted a two-run homer off him in the bottom of the sixth inning. He called it “a character-builder.”
As a senior for the Tomcats, he was 7-0 with a 1.81 earned run average and batted .492 with 10 home runs and 26 RBI. He struck out only four times in 71 at-bats.
Swift will be making the trip from Jacksonville, Fla., to Ashland this week to celebrate with the other inductees in Central Park.
Donnie Allen, one of Swift’s high school teammates, and two of his American Legion coaches – the late Frank Wagner and Rick Reeves – join him as inductees.
Others in the 2018 class are Don Lentz, Fred Leibee, John Sieweke, Dave Staten, Larry Stevens and Mike Tackett, all who were members of state championship teams during the stretch when the Tomcats won three titles in a row from 1966-68.
Two of the best defensive players in Tomcat history, center fielder H.F. Dixon (1958- 1960) and shortstop Ernie Daniels (1961-63), are among the inductees.
Dixon represents part of a trio of 1950s players including pitcher Larry Castle and catcher David Patton. All three played on Ashland’s 1958 regional championship team and were products of the Pony League and Midget League in the park growing up.
Everybody has a story to tell and they will get the chance with a ceremony that begins at 1 p.m.