Author: Mark Maynard

Putnam Stadium’s favorite cheerleader wants to gift wrap nice donation

Putnam Stadium’s favorite cheerleader wants to gift wrap nice donation

Donna Childers Suttle, who has a heart for Putnam Stadium like no other, will be using her gift-wrapping skills to raise money for the home of the Ashland Tomcats.

Beginning Thursday, Donna will set up a table at Corbie’s on the corner of 17th Street and Winchester Avenue with her scissors and other tools ready to make your Christmas gift look like nobody else’s. You bring in the gift, the wrapping paper and ribbon and watch her work the magic.

Donna between two of her favorites, the late David Payne, left, and Tomcat broadcasting great Dicky Martin.

She will be there from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through Dec. 21.

All she wants in return is a donation to the Putnam Stadium Restoration Committee. Several major projects remain including lights, a sound system and field turf. As Donna knows, every little bit helps.

“There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done,” she said. “We’re not finished with her.”

You can bring in gifts from outside Corbie’s to be wrapped or purchase something from the store and have it wrapped and ready to be put under the Christmas tree. She will also add ribbons to wreaths or other Christmas décor. Donna has decades of experience after working a lifetime at South Ashland Florist where her arrangements were always the best around.

Donna and her sister, Mary, closed the business this year. But, of course, Donna is itching to do something and she has no more important project than Putnam Stadium – a place near and dear to her.

The Tomcats didn’t lose a game in Putnam Stadium this year but won’t return until 2020. The rest of Ashland’s playoff games, no matter how many, will be away from home.

Make checks payable to Putnam Stadium Restoration or donate cash to the project. Credit cards cannot be accepted.

I’ll be joining Donna at Corbie’s on Nov. 30 for a book signing of Ashland Tomcats Football: A Total History. Come buy a book, bring in some gift paper and let Donna wrap it up with a special Tomcat touch. There will be no better gift for the Tomcat in your life.

We will be there for several hours on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in downtown Ashland.

Our family mourns passing of great man but hope lives

Our family mourns passing of great man but hope lives

The last week or so has been different and difficult for our family. My wife is in Florida with her mom and dad as they visited Fred’s ailing brother, Lowell. They didn’t know it would be his last week on earth. He died peacefully in the early morning hours of Friday at his home with his wife by his side.

None of us will escape death but we all have the opportunity to choose eternal life through Jesus Christ. It’s up to us. No group policies. Lowell chose that and Jesus called him home. He told his family as much the day before he died. Jesus was telling him to come home, he said. His wife said: “You’ve followed Him your whole life. Go.”

What a testimony! He’s better than ever.

Lowell Boggs, left, with brother Fred Boggs recently in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

But his family mourns. Pam, his wife of 36 years, will be separated from the love of her life the rest of her days on this earth. Fred lost his last sibling, six years his junior. Beth and her sisters have lost a favorite uncle. It’s tough to watch them mourn. But knowing it’s not the end gives them hope.

My heart aches for those left behind, for now. But Lowell’s wish wouldn’t be heartache for anyone. His wish would be for family to join him. A childhood injury took one of his eyes, but he’s seeing more clearly today than he ever did here.

Fred was Big Brother to Lowell. He was six years younger. Tom and Pauline Boggs raised some fine young men and young women. They were respectful, hard-working and compassionate. Fred is the last of five siblings who always gave more than they received. And they did it with no fanfare, because they weren’t doing it for attention. They were doing it because it was right. Lowell was like that, a friend to many. He gave so many a hand up when they needed it without anybody looking, and isn’t that how true character is defined?  He didn’t do it to say, “Hey, look at me!” He did it because he was raised that way and through his Christian convictions.

As people come to the house to pay respects, Beth has heard stories of Lowell’s generosity and the difference he made in lives there on so many different levels. Many say they owe their very lives to him. He’d tell them to give it to Jesus.

He was a school administrator and teacher by trade, a Sunday school teacher who expounded wisdom and someone who lived his life with the Lord first in his mind. What would Jesus do? That might as well have been his calling card.

I knew Lowell through our visits to Florida and, looking back, they were too infrequent. Life gets in the way sometimes. But I’ve heard the stories from Fred, who loved his little brother.  I always loved talking to Lowell and Pam. She loved him like nobody else. She’s hurting today and will for a while until she finds her “new normal.” The memories are vivid and she will have times of laughter and times of tears. But the life her husband led and is the life she has led, is filled with Christian love in her own way. God will wrap His arms around her. Rest assured of that promise.

Lowell and Fred are lookalikes and act-a-likes, too. My heart breaks for my father-in-law – the greatest man I know – as he has dealt with a lot of death recently. His best friend Harold Cathey, longtime friend and work partner Jim Downs and fellow Marine Keith Waggoner all died within a few months of each other. And now his last sibling has gone on to heaven. Fred hurts inside, but he has hope that this isn’t the end.
He also has a wife who is a Prayer Warrior like no other. Believe me, you want Alva Boggs praying for you. I love this woman, truly a second mother to me, and one of the greatest women on the planet. Fred is fortunate to have her praying for him. When she’s not sure what to do, she prays. There is nothing better.

It’s been a hard week on Beth, too. She tackles anything and everything that God tasks her to do, the most amazing woman on earth. She has been a friend, not just a niece, to her uncle and aunt this week. This would have been a much more difficult few days for them without her. I’ll never be able to thank her enough for the care she showed my mother in her last months of life. I’m sure Pam feels the same way about her today. Beth’s experience with my mother gave her the strength to be there for her uncle in ways that nobody could understand.

And for those who know Beth, she’s cut from the same cloth as her mother when it comes to being a Prayer Warrior.

How can I ever fail with those two praying for me?

Family is a blessing.

And, even in times of mourning, God is good.

Click HERE for a link to the obituary for Lowell.

CP-1 ceremony always comes with emotional wallop

CP-1 ceremony always comes with emotional wallop

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.

CP-1 HOF class has power, pitching, speed and the best coaching staff around

CP-1 HOF class has power, pitching, speed and the best coaching staff around

Thee fifth class of the CP-1 Hall of Fame will have induction ceremonies Saturday in Central Park. Activities begin at 1 p.m. beside the big diamond.

The weather forecast looks spectacular and emotions will be running high so bring some tissues.

As I usually try to do, I’ve put together a lineup based on the 10 inductees and, like always, it’s a stunning group.

cp1ballSome guys have to play out of position, but they were all so good, it shouldn’t be a problem. One of our honorees who is in for his coaching ability – Ashland’s Frank Sloan – played some professional baseball and was a catcher before he came here. So that’s where I put him. He can also take part in an incredible coaching staff – T.R Wright, Sloan and Mike Johnson. Nobody will outcoach this team. Guarantee it.

Johnson was a catcher for the Tomcats, but I know he can play outfield. He used to tell his Babe Ruth players: “Even girls can catch popups.” So, he won’t have any trouble patrolling right field.

Tobey Tolbert could probably take care of most of the outfield by himself with his speed. I put him in center field and led him off. Speedster Dick Fillmore bats behind him while the 3-5 hitters could bang it – the great Robert Wright, powerful Herb Conley and hard-hitting Ed Joseph. Who would want to face that murderer’s row?

Darryl Smith is a natural at first base and waiting to pitch if called upon. Ed Radjunas gets the honors at the hot corner, where we had three outstanding ones. I moved Joseph to second base despite being a stellar third baseman. Conley, another good third baseman, goes to the pitching mound. That left Radjunas in his familiar home at third base.

Be sure to come out Saturday and enjoy the festivities which should be completed around 3 p.m.

Donna Childers Suttle has reserved the downtown Giovanni’s back room that holds 40 starting at 5 p.m. Everybody is invited.

  1. Tobey Tolbert, cf
  2. Dick Fillmore, ss-p
  3. Robert Wright, lf
  4. Herb Conley, p
  5. Ed Joseph, 2b
  6. Darryl Smith, 1b-p
  7. Mike Johnson, rf
  8. Ed Radjunas, 3b
  9. Frank Sloan, c-coach

T.R. Wright, manager



Aug. 24 induction day for 2019 CP-1 HOF class

Aug. 24 induction day for 2019 CP-1 HOF class

ASHLAND, Ky. – Eight former players and two coaches make up the 2019 CP-1 Ashland Baseball Hall of Fame class. The induction ceremony will be Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. in Central Park.

This will be the fifth class inducted, bringing the total to 60 former players, coaches and umpires in the CP-1 Hall of Fame. Four more 10-man classes will complete the honorees, which is comprised of players who accomplished playing feats on the big diamond in Central Park.

The 2019 class has a little bit of everything with great coaches and players who were good not only in baseball but any other sport they touched.

The 1950s era is well represented with youth league coaching pioneer T.R. Wright, former Ashland Tomcats players Robert Wright (one of T.R.’s sons), Dick Fillmore and Herb Conley and former Fairview High standout Ed Joseph. Both T.R. and Robert Wright will be honored posthumously.

The 1960s era includes former Ashland Tomcat stars Ed Radjunas, Tobey Tolbert and Mike Johnson.

The 1970s era includes former Ashland Tomcat coach Frank Sloan and Tomcat pitching standout Darryl Smith.

This class is strong on third baseman with Joseph, Conley and Radjunas all superb in the era on the hot corner. Robert Wright was one of the best hitters to ever set foot in Central Park, according to his peers. Johnson was a standout catcher and Tolbert an outfielder who could hit and run. Fillmore was another who could move on the field at shortstop and also pitched. Smith was an outstanding pitcher and hitter.

If they couldn’t beat you with bats or pitching, then surely two of the best coaches in CP-1 history would find a way to get it done.

Congratulations to a sterling class:

-Herb Conley

-Dick Fillmore

-Mike Johnson

-Ed Joseph

-Ed Radjunas

-Frank Sloan

-Darryl Smith

-Tobey Tolbert

-Robert Wright

-T.R. Wright

2018 (14): H.F. Dixon, Ernie Daniels, Greg Swift, David Patton, Don Allen, Don Lentz, Fred Leibee, Mike Tackett, David Staten, Larry Castle, John Sieweke, Larry Stevens, Rick Reeves, Frank Wagner.

2017 (13): J.D. Browne, Bo Carter, Joe Conley, Tim Huff, Mike Smith, Steve Hemlepp, John Mullins, Kevin Gothard, Mike Gothard, Dale Griffith, Nard Pergrem, Jim Speaks, John Thomas.

2016 (11): Bob Lynch, Steve Rolen, “Big” Ed Hughes, Wayne Workman, Bill Workman, Chuck Dickison, Juan Thomas, Ellis Childers, Clyde Chinn, Marvin Hall, Dan Smith.

2015 (12): Brandon Webb, Don Gullett, Bill Lynch, Drew Hall, Charlie Reliford, Jody Hamilton, Dykes Potter, Squire Potter, Bob Simpson, Reecie Banks, Jim Host, Gene Bennett.


Towler, educator and basketball star, to receive Elks Sports Day honor

Towler, educator and basketball star, to receive Elks Sports Day honor

Steve Towler is the 2019 Elks Sports Day honoree.

ASHLAND, Ky. – Steve Towler, an outstanding educator and a former Boyd County High School basketball great, will be the honoree Saturday night for the 45th annual Elks Sports Day.

Towler, who graduated in 1963, is one of the most prolific scorers in Boyd County High School history, holding the scoring record for years and is currently No. 3 all-time with 1,653 points. He averaged 18 points and nine rebounds as a junior and 22 points and 12 rebounds as a senior. He was honorable mention All-State for three consecutive seasons.

Towler played at the University of Tulsa for two years before finishing his collegiate career at Rio Grande University.

He served as superintendent of five school districts in his career and was also the Boyd County judge-executive from 2015-18 and led the United Way of Northeastern Kentucky as executive director from 1999 to 2013.

Tickets are $30 and the event begins with a reception at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m.

Here is a year-by-year listing of Sports Day honorees:

1975: Jimmy Anderson, legendary high school football and basketball coach at Ashland. Coached the 1928 national champions.

1976: Ernie Chattin, played and coached football and basketball at Ashland High School and was longtime YMCA director.

1977: Ellis Johnson, played on ’28 national champions and was Adolph Rupp’s first All-American.

1978: Al “Fonse” Atkins, famed pro golfer who won several championships.

1979: James “Bo” McMillen, former 3-year UK quarterback and local YMCA director for 27 years.

1980: Dr. Leo Dickison, All-state football Tomcat and helped develop penicillin during medical career.

1981: Raymond C. “Chigger” Adkins, multi-sport athlete and also local softball star and basketball official.

1982: Fred Rigsby, basketball and football player for Tomcats and served 40 years in AHS school system.

1983: George Conley, basketball player and coach at Ashland. SEC basketball official.

1984: George “Eck” Allen, played on ’28 national champions and All-State in football at Ashland. Played on 1930 state champs.

1985: Luster “Lus” Oxley, Basketball standout for Tomcats and Morehead State.

1986: Bob Wright, coached Tomcats to 1961 state title and 1962 runner-up. Played for Cam Henderson at Marshall.

1987: Dr. Marvin Keeton played basketball at Ashland and Vanderbilt.

1988: Bill Selbee, fast-pitch softball pitcher in area and played basketball and football at EKU.

1989: Charles “Buck” Pergrem, football and basketball player for Tomcats and Ashland Junior College.

1990: Ralph Felty, All-State football at Ashland and played for Duke in the 1942 Rose Bowl.

1991: Larry Conley, basketball star on ’61 champions and ’62 runners-up and went on to play for “Rupp’s Runts” at UK.

1992: Marvin Meredith, basketball star at Catlettsburg High School and longtime coach at Russell with more than 700 wins.

1993: J.C. Kennard, All-State football player at Ashland and played for Bear Bryant at UK.

1994: John Caine, basketball and baseball player at Ashland and coach and AD at several colleges.

1995: Norman “Dutch” Berry, football and basketball player at Ashland and longtime city commissioner.

1996: Herb Conley, 3-sport star at Ashland and starred on ’58 undefeated team. Tomcat head coach from 1968-1976 including 14-1 season in ’75.

1997: Earl “Brother” Adkins, standout basketball player for Tomcats voted state’s top player in 1953. Played on UK’s ’58 national champions.

1998: Darryle “Sam” Kouns, former Tomcat who led Army to its first consecutive winning basketball seasons in more than 50 years with 21.6 ppg career average.

1999: Megan Neyer, winningest diver in NCAA history and 1980 Olympic team diving member.

2000: W. James “Jim” Host, pitched for Tomcats and professional in White Sox organization. Began public relations/consulting firm that is synonymous with college sports.

2001: J.D. Ison, starred in football for Tomcats and was All-American tight end at Baylor. His nickname was “The Hand.”

2002: Ernest “Nard” Pergrem, great athlete who starred in baseball and basketball. He was first Tomcat to score 300 in a season.

2003: Gerald “Jerry” Henderson, 4-sport athlete who did them all well at Ashland. Played basketball at Florida and averaged 12 ppg as senior.

2004: Fred “Freddie” Simpson, prolific scorer with more than 2,000 points at Holy Family and also played for both Marshall and Morehead.

2005: Paul Reliford, football and basketball standout at Ashland and longtime teacher, coach and administrator at Fairview High School.

2006: Eugene “Jeep” Clark, All-State basketball player for Tomcats who had extensive coaching career that included developing Boyd County into 16th Region powerhouse.

2007: Jack Fultz, longtime Olive Hill coach who recorded 396 victories and four regional titles. Also played for the Comets, leading team to first region crown in 1944.

2008: Charlie Reliford, former major league umpire who called World Series in 2000 and 2004. Began umpiring career in Central Park.

2009: Bobby Lynch, basketball and baseball star for Tomcats who was part of all three of Ashland’s state baseball crowns from 1966-68. Played basketball at Alabama for C.M. Newton.

2010: Nick Jordan, football, baseball and track & field star who played college football for Michigan State and participated in “Game of the Century” in 1966 with Notre Dame.

2011: Maj. Gen. Chuck Anderson, former Tomcat football player who was quarterback-middle linebacker on 75 JAWS team. He went on to Army and rose to rank of major general.

2012: Steve Gilmore, outstanding basketball player at Holy Family and former Ashland Tomcat basketball coach who was a lifelong educator. He also has served as mayor of Ashland for several years.

2013: Vic Marsh, Tomcat football coach who led Ashland to 1990 state championship and is the winningest coach in school history with 112 victories.

2014: Don Gullett, perhaps the greatest athlete in northeastern Kentucky history. He played everything at McKell High School but his blazing fastball took him to the major leagues with the Cincinnati Reds. He played on four consecutive World Series champions from 1975-1978.

2015: Buffalo Bill Hopkins, played football and basketball for Tomcats and has been a longtime mayor in Russell.

2016: Bill Lynch, southpaw pitcher who had 27-2 career record with 303 strikeouts. He guided Tomcats to first state baseball title in 1966 and was drafted into pro ball by the Indians before being sidelined with injury.

2017: Tom Cooksey, spent a lifetime contributing to golf in the area and co-founded the prestigious AJGA Bluegrass Junior. He is a Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame member.

2018: Mark Maynard, Ashland sports historian who worked 30 years as a sportswriter/sports editor of the Ashland Daily Independent, and has authored six books about the area. He is one of only four writers in the Kentucky Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

2019: Steve Towler, outstanding basketball player and one of the most prolific scorers in Boyd County High School history, made his career mark in education where he served as superintendent of five schools, including Ashland. He also was a judge-executive for Boyd County.


Putnam Stadium taking orders for bricks, Donor Wall

Putnam Stadium taking orders for bricks, Donor Wall

ASHLAND, Ky. – The window is open until June 1 for purchasing a place in the Ashland Tomcat Donor Wall and Donor Corner at Putnam Stadium that will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.

Hundreds have already put down commemorative bricks with names of families, individuals or businesses who have connections to the Tomcats.

It’s not all about football either.

There are band members, cheerleaders, or even being a longtime fan that needs to be honored or memorialized. It makes for a perfect Christmas gift too that will surprise the fan in your life.

Businesses or classes can put their name on the beautiful Donor Wall that sits in the corner of Putnam Stadium behind the statue of Coach Herb Conley.

Proceeds from the donations go toward the continued refurbishing of Putnam Stadium. The next phase in the rebuilding is for new lights.

Putnam Stadium has been an iconic place in Ashland since 1937 and remains one of the top high school football stadiums in Kentucky.

For a donation of at least $500 you can place that family information on the Donor Wall in one of four categories for large donors as listed below:

TOMCAT TOUCHDOWN CLUB:                               $10,000 OR MORE

TOMCAT MAROON AND WHITE CLUB:                  $5,000 – $9,999

TOMCAT PAWS CLUB:                                             $1,000 – $4,999

TOMCAT PRIDE CLUB:                                             $500 – $999

For a donation of $100 or $175 you can have a brick placed in the Donor’s Corner with an inscription that you choose (name or family name, etc.):

4×8 brick:         $100            3 lines/20 characters each line (this includes spacing and punctuation)

8×8 brick:         $175            6 lines/20 characters each line (this includes spacing and punctuation)

Order forms are available at the South Ashland Greenhouse off 29th Street.  Complete the form with inscription and contact information, then send the form and check to:

The Putnam Stadium Restoration Foundation P.O. Box 3000 Ashland, KY 41105-3000 or deliver it to Donna Childers Suttle at the South Ashland Greenhouse.