Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


November 1, 2012

Mark Maynard: Pokémon champion has ties to Ashland

ASHLAND — So today, instead of a 21-name countdown, we’re going to make it 25.

Enjoy the bonus!

Anybody remember Pokemon? The addictive video game still has a captive audience and a 14-year-old Apex, Colo., boy with Ashland ties is the current world champion.

Toler Webb (1), who is the great-great-nephew of Ashland resident Sam Spears (2) and his wife, Louise (3), captured the 2012 PokémonWorld Championships in Waikoloa, Hawaii, recently.

For taking top honors in the Video Game Senior Division, Webb received a $3,500 college scholarship, a trophy, a large amount of Pokémonmerchandise and an automatic berth into next year’s world championship tourney in Vancouver.

He received that haul and a free trip to Hawaii he enjoyed along with his mother, Jennifer (4). Toler’s father is Bruce Webb (5). Jennifer’s mother is Sheldon Hayes (6), who is Sam’s niece.

Sam’s late brother, Joe (7), would be the great-great- grandfather of Toler. The family still keeps in touch and updates Sam and Louise on his Pokémontriumphs. Joe married Betty Jean Holstein (8) in 1940. “They had to practically hog-tie me to get me to go to the wedding,” said Sam, who was 14 at the time.

The late Hayes Holstein (9), who was the superintendent at Armco in the 1920s and 1930s, would be the great-great-great-grandfather of Toler Webb. Hayes Holstein’s wife was Ethel (10).

Toler Webb, who estimates he plays Pokeman 30 hours a week, qualified for the world championship with a third-place finish during national competition in Indianapolis in July.

Webb lost his first game in the world competition, but rallied back to win the title. He has been playing Pokémonsince he was 4. The freshman at Enloe High School will expand his horizons by playing baseball and focusing on academics, he said.

Launched in Japan in 1996, Pokémonis a series of video games, trading-card games and entertainment franchises. Pokémonare wild creatures that are raised by human owners, or “trainers,” who travel from town to town catching and training Pokémonand battling against other trainers’ Pokémonteams on a quest to become the PokémonLeague Champion. During their adventures, Pokémongrow and become more experienced, affecting how they fare in battle.

Did you hear that?

My wife and I were watching “NCIS” Tuesday night when we heard one of the investigators say the suspect in the case was in Greenup, Ky.

We looked at each other and said, “Did he say Greenup, Ky.?” Through the magic of DVR, we replayed the investigator’s words and heard it again. The other investigator asked where is Greenup, Ky? “In the Appalachian mountains,” was his reply.

They found the suspect in a forest-like area camping out.

You never know where they’ll find those guys — even in Greenup’s “Appalachian mountains.”

The search goes on

While doing some research for a couple of columns on Putnam Stadium this week, I ran across some interesting names and stories.

I love going to the “Wayback Machine” (better known as our microfilm room) to unearth new details about the past.

Everybody knows about Ashland’s 1928 national championship basketball team, but did you know that in 1931 the Ashland Tomcat football team that went 10-0, including an 83-6 victory over Decatur, Ga., in the Southern Bowl is regarded as that year’s national champion?

I knew the ’31 Tomcat team was regarded as one of the greatest in history, but never knew the national championship tag was with them.

Also, that was the first year the Little Red Wagon was presented to the winner of the Ashland-Huntington High game. The Tomcats beat the Pony Express, 38-0.

Ashland on the ledger was Portsmouth, Va., and Fengeers out of Chicago. Paul Jenkins (11) was the head coach and Bert Johnson (12), Glenn Overley (13) and Dick Gumm (14) were three of the stars.

While looking for some of the greatest wins in Putnam Stadium history, I was looking up the 1954 season because although those Tomcats were only 4-5-1, they defeated Fort Thomas Highlands 38-6. Why is that significant? Well, that happens to be the last time Ashland defeated Highlands in football. But it wasn’t at Putnam Stadium, so I couldn’t include it in the column.

George Rupert (15), Ralph Clere (16), “Buffalo” Bill Hopkins (17), Paul Reliford (18) and Herb Thompson (19) were members of that team. The head coach was Denver Ball (20).

Block that kick

Last week’s column on the 1962 Coles-Putnam Kiwanis Bowl game drew some kind responses from readers, including Billy Lynch (21).

Lynch said that turned out to be his last football game because he was told he needed to protect his left arm for baseball. That probably turned out to be some sound advice, although the Tomcats could have used him in football.

Vic Marsh (22), who was also a freshman that year, said only four or five of the Coles players went on to play for the Tomcats simply because many of them were too old.

Bud Figley (23), who was listed as the Putnam punter in the story, actually didn’t punt. That job belonged to John Thomas (24), who had his kick blocked by Robert “Night Train” Oakley (25) to set up the only score of the game.

“I appreciate the publicity, but it wasn’t me,” said Figley, who took some good-natured kidding from friends after the column appeared. Figley said he and Thomas wore No. 82 and No. 83, which explains the confusion. Our sportswriter who covered the story in ’62 obviously got them switched and then passed his mistake on to me 50 years later!

Thomas went on to be a star for the Tomcats, earning All-State recognition as a tackle. He was also a key member of Ashland’s 1966 state baseball champions.


Speaking of mistakes, I made one in my listing of the 25 greatest wins at Putnam Stadium column on Wednesday.

Ashland’s win over Bryan Station in 1982 was actually on the road. The Defenders then came to Putnam Stadium in the playoffs and defeated the Tomcats.

Some of the greatest played games in stadium history were losses. The 1988 6-0 overtime loss to Covington Catholic ranks, in my humble opinion, as the best I’ve witnessed. The Tomcats were four-touchdown underdogs and nearly won the state semifinal game.

Another loss, 42-41 to Ironton in 1997, is well remembered because of the late Jason Nichols’ tremendous rushing performance of 392 yards. The Tomcats blew a late 13-point lead in that one.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.

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