ASHLAND, Ky. – Under a God-kissed sky, the sixth class of the CP-1 Ashland Baseball Hall of Fame was inducted Saturday afternoon.
With the gorgeous freshly trimmed diamond at their backs, the class of 10 was enshrined to bring it to 70 since the hall of fame started in 2015. About a half dozen former hall of famers (Drew Hall, Jody Hamilton, Bill Lynch, Bob Lynch, Mike Smith, Dave Staten, Ed Radjunas) joined a nice crowd of about 90 family and friends of the inductees.
They talked about father-and-son moments, lessons learned from coaches and the fun they had playing baseball with teammates. Players and coaches were among the inductees who have waited since learning they were going into the CP-1 Hall of Fame in December 2019. The pandemic postponed last August’s ceremony, so they had to wait an extra year for their time in the sun.
But if they were anxious or nervous, it never showed. Everybody who spoke, including two who talked on behalf of inductees, were succinct and relevant. They had the appreciative crowd eating out of their hands.
There were themes to the group that also included one of the best-known players ever to step foot on the diamond. Wilson Barrow, one of the hardest-throwing pitchers the area has ever known, was taking his place in the hall. He was so excited after learning about the induction, said his nephew Charlie Johnson, who spoke for him. Mr. Barrow passed away in November 2020.
Charlie said he remembered the excitement his uncle showed after receiving a call from Bob Lynch that he was going to be an honoree. “He said, ‘Guess who called? Bob with the Hall of Fame!’ I’ve never seen him so happy.”
The other inductees: Scott Crank, Mike Delaney, Bryan Finkbone, Bill Hammond, French Harmon, Jon Hart, Cabot Keesey, Mark Moore and Mike Tussey.
Delaney’s message was heartfelt and emotional as he spoke about his father, 90-year-old John Delaney who was not only on hand for the ceremony but was on the field later having a catch with his son like they’d done a million times before.
Hart talked about his father, too, who had passed only a couple of months ago. He was able to share with his dad the news that he was going into the Hall of Fame.
Four coaches – Delaney, Hammond, Harmon and Tussey – spoke about experiences with players and sometimes umpires. Harmon talked about the importance of being part of a team and how that team ca become like family. Hammond was known to fight for his players even to the point of almost going to jail after becoming irate with an umpire. Tussey told that story and how he was able to speak with the law enforcement to give him another. They did, Hammond behaved and the Ashland All-Star team won a game in Mt. Sterling.
It was story after story but it always circled back to Central Park’s No. 1 diamond – CP-1.
The inductees shared stories about each other, including Keesey remembering an absolute fit that Finkbone threw on umpire Clyde Chinn in a Little League game on the 22nd Street diamond. Keesey tried the same kind of fit in a Babe Ruth game, slinging his helmet after being called out at the plate by the aforementioned Chinn, who threw him out of the game before Keesey could celebrate going “Finkbone” on him for one second.
Several players were emotional and had to pause lest they broke into tears. It was raw and real. Hammond mentioned how proud his father would have been of him. Grown men showing raw emotions is what makes the CP-1 Hall of Fame ceremony show special.
Six of the inductees played for former Tomcat baseball coach Frank Sloan, who couldn’t attend the ceremony but send a message to the players about how proud he was not only of their ability but their character. Several of them talked about the important role Sloan played in their lives.
Harmon was another influential coach and mentor who turned baseball lessons into life lessons. He taught them what it meant to care for each other. He was a counselor to many and coached some of the greats in the area, including future Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb with the Ashland Athletics.
Tussey coached players on every level and also broadcast baseball games from Central Park. He also put together a powerhouse Stan Musial team made up of college players from throughout the area and Paintsville. They were state champions in 1988 with a 32-7 record.
Moore is the all-time veteran player, compiling 18 seasons overall throughout his career. He was known for being the “Cal Ripken of Ashland, a real ironman who never missed a game in nine seasons,” Tussey said.
Moore told on himself about how he and Keesey made sure Sloan’s torturous practice balls didn’t make it home from Morehead on a bus ride. The hard-shelled balls were like Super Balls, he said, and were hated by the players. When told Sloan may be watching a livestream, he said, “Oh, well, sorry coach! Now you know what happened to those balls.”
Former Hall of Farmer Rick Reeves pinch-hit and spoke for Crank, who is one of Ashland’s greatest all-around athletes. Reeves talked about how Crank could do anything on the baseball field or any other field. “He was just a great athlete, one of the best I’ve ever been around,” he said.