ASHLAND, Ky. – The fourth annual Ashland Baseball CP-1 Hall of Fame ceremony had a little bit of everything.
-Emotional speeches. Several inductees had to collect themselves while offering up heartfelt speeches that included their parents, family and teammates.
-Untold stories. David Patton, a 1950s era Tomcat, brought out the entire arsenal of never-before-heard stories about his playing days. What a treat!
-Divine intervention. There’s no other explanation as to why it did not rain. The forecast kept getting worse day by day and on Friday was calling for a 90 percent chance of thunderstorms – and we made the call to have the ceremony in the park anyway Saturday morning.
Guess what? It didn’t rain.
It all added up to what will be remembered for a long time for the 14 inductees and their families.
It was also one of the bigger crowds in the history of the CP-1 Hall of Fame with 80 to 100 in attendance. Some laughed, some cried, and everybody enjoyed.
The common denominators were a love for Central Park and thank you wishes to deceased parents, to siblings, to teammates and to organizers.
Larry Stevens, a hard-throwing pitcher during the early days of the Tomcat Dynasty Era in the 1960s, came in a wheelchair because he is suffering from a disease that has also taken away his ability to communicate.
Yet Stevens broke off the line of the day when in his broken sentences was able to clearly get out: “I got a hit off Bill.”
That was in reference to good friend Bill Lynch, the flame-throwing lefthander who was in the inaugural CP-1 Hall of Fame class.
The crowd roared with laughter from Stevens’ short sentence to his friend. His wife later took over the rest of the speaking.
From stars in the 1950s to the 1970s, the crowd listened intently for two hours as one by one the inductees shared a bit of their stories. Nobody was too long and nobody was too short and everybody who came walked away feeling a little better about either living in Ashland or having the joy to play in Central Park.
Greg Swift, Don Allen and co-coaches Rick Reeves and Frank Wagner represented the 1970s. Reeves said it would be much better if Wagner, who died a dozen years ago, could have stood there with him.
Ernie Daniels not only shared his baseball life but also his faith in a heartfelt speech. He played from 1961 to 1963 for the Tomcats and shared a story how he won the American Legion Chuck Dickison Award as a 16-year-old shortstop.
He said he was waiting for the Dickison ceremony, not knowing who was going to win, and he saw his mother and father get out of a car. Daniels choked up a little before continuing, saying he still didn’t know he was going to be the award winner and then his name was announced.
Six members of the Tomcat Dynasty Era between 1965-69 also were inducted: John Sieweke, David Staten, Stevens, Mike Tackett, Fred Leibee and Don Lentz.
Three players from the 1950s, Patton, H.F. Dixon and Larry Castle rounded out with speeches that came from deep inside.
Inductees came out of state from Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Texas and from Lexington and Lawrenburg in state.
They came to be inducted but were reminded they left their heart in Central Park.