ASHLAND, Ky. – The previous four CP-1 Ashland Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies have a common denominator.
They are packed full of emotion tighter than an Army duffel bag full of baseball bats and balls.
Every year honorees are taken on an emotional roller-coaster ride as they wait their turn to briefly speak. These are grown men who played on the Central Park diamond decades ago, but the memories that rush back can sometimes overwhelm them.
It’s OK. That’s part of what makes this Saturday in August so special. Notable sluggers Jody Hamilton and Juan Thomas choked back tears. So did Phil Webb, father of Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb. As you can see, it happens to the best of them.
We may even have some eyes being wiped via Facebook Live. This year will be special for Gary Wright, who started the CP-1 movement 11 years ago with a sizable donation that turned the old diamond into a showplace complete with a grass infield and double-deck press box. The backstop is a lot closer than what these inductees will remember, too.
Wright will be watching the ceremony intently from his Florida home as his father T.R. Wright and brother, Robert, are inducted posthumously. His father was instrumental in getting many youth programs started, including the Ashland Babe Ruth League and the American Legion baseball program.
Besides being a father to his own children, he was a “father” to many of others in Ashland while grooming them to become better men. The press box dons T.R. Wright’s name as a permanent reminder of what he did for Ashland baseball. Now his name will also be on a plaque attached to the back of the press box wall, along with a class that includes son Robert – a tremendous all-around athlete who peers say was the most feared hitter of his day.
Since Gary Wright’s donation in 2008, much has happened. Dave Carter put together an award-winning film – “Ashland’s Field of Dreams” – that has aired every year on Kentucky Education Television and is also packed with emotion. Carter also produced a short film of the same subject that was played in Cooperstown, site of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, a few years ago.
The first CP-1 Hall of Fame class came a few years later in 2015 with Carter and Wright spearheading the effort. The 10 inductees going in Saturday will bring the total to 60.
The 2019 inductees are: Herb Conley, Dick Fillmore, Mike Johnson, Frank Sloan, Darryl Smith, Ed Joseph, Robert Wright, T.R. Wright, Ed Radjunas and Tobey Tolbert.
The ceremony beside the big diamond begins at 1 p.m. Admission is free. Bring your own tissues.