Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

April 4, 2013

MARK MAYNARD: Exercise in team building

ASHLAND — Here’s a 14-name salute for this week. Count along with me.

Ashland was well represented Saturday in Lexington at the Georgia-Kentucky baseball game at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Two Ashland American Little League teams, the Yankees and the White Sox, took teams down to watch the Wildcats.

They were treated like royalty and made memories that will last a lifetime.

I know nothing is how it used to be, but this reminds me of what Little League teams used to do. It’s not just about the fundamentals or wins and losses, but also about team building and having a good time together.

These days, with Travel Team Baseball all the rage, the Little Leagues have suffered.

Todd Keelin (1) was one of the coaches and he was asked by Larry Vaught (2) of the Advocate-Messenger in Danville to write a little something about the experience.

Vaught covers UK extensively and thoroughly and he thought it’d be nice to see how the trip went through a UK fan’s eyes.

Here’s a brief part of what Keelin sent him:

“The players and coaches would come over and interact with the boys and even gave them baseballs. When it came time for the national anthem, the boys were taken on the field and got to stand with the team during the playing of the national anthem. As if that wasn’t enough, the entire UK team began to huddle around our boys to where you could not even see them, and they began to jump up and down getting pumped for the game and then let out a big, ‘Go Cats!!!’ The boys loved it.”

It’s nice to see that kind of interaction between UK’s players and these aspiring Little League players, who certainly will treasure that time on the field. They have become fans for life.

Zach Greene (3), a sixth-grader at Charles Russell Elementary, had an even bigger thrill as the bat boy for the Georgia Bulldogs. It’s the second time for Zach in that role; he also was a bat boy during games in Georgia last season against UK.

Georgia’s coach is former Marshall coach David Perno (4). David Greene (5), Zach’s father, played for Perno at Marshall and they’ve maintained a strong relationship.

Zach is a Dawg through and through and that’s not always easy living in the land of the Cats. He was outfitted in full Georgia attire for the game.

All in all, it looked like a great experience for these Little League guys from Ashland. Kudos to the coaches for going beyond the lines to make this Little League experience a good memory that these players will likely talk about for years to come.

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Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting, in person, Janice Franklin May (6), one of the late Joe Franklin’s (7) older sisters. Janice, who lives in Kansas, is a 1959 Ashland High School graduate. She was having lunch at Bob Evans with several friends, including Charlene Cooper (8), who invited me to tag along. Janice and Charlene are also proud alums of Condit Elementary.

I actually interviewed Janice by phone some time ago for my book, “Tragedy and Triumph,” about the 1967 Ashland state football championship and tragic death of her brother on the same day. Janice was so open in talking about one of the worst days of her life and added so much to the story. I appreciated it so much. It was so nice to meet her in person.

Janice hadn’t been back to her hometown for several years, she said.

When the waitress came to take my order, I told her what I really wanted was a “Flying saucer and onion rings” and then winked at Charlene, who, of course, is the matron of the Bluegrass family. We all agreed if that were on the menu, that’s what we’d get. The waitress, quick on her feet and wit, countered with she’d be glad to fly saucers our way from a few feet away.

By the way, “Tragedy and Triumph” is now available in limited hardback editions, including additional photos.

Come by the office or stop by South Ashland Greenhouse to purchase a copy.

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 Basketball is still bouncing strong in Kentucky with Louisville in the Final Four for both the men and women.

Watching Kevin Ware’s (9) gruesome leg injury and how Louisville responded to it has to put the Cardinals in your corner emotionally if nothing else.

Kentuckians should be proud of the prospects the national championship can stay within the state another year.

And if the Cardinals can win the women’s title, too, it makes it that much better for Kentucky fans from east to west.

Final Four weekend usually coincides with the opening of baseball season, making it one of the greatest sports weekends of the year.

This year, though, we’re off a weekend. That’s OK. Sandwiching the Final Four around a Stephen Strasburg (10) vs. Johnny Cueto (11)  meeting on Sunday at Great American Ball Park may even be better than opening day.

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Brandon Webb (12), who doesn’t turn 34 until May, was back on the Chase Field mound in Arizona on Monday.

Webb was given the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before Arizona played St. Louis in the 2013 season opener.

Webb, who is adored in Arizona after winning 87 games and the 2006 Cy Young Award with the Diamondbacks, threw his pitch a little wide of the catcher.

He is taking some time away from baseball after retiring officially this winter, but don’t be surprised if he’s not back in some capacity with the Diamondbacks.

Webb, who pitched from 2003 to 2008 for the D-Backs before injurying his shoulder, remains one of the team’s best ambassadors.

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The locking down of Styx for Summer Motion’s 25th anniversary has been quite the buzz.

Kudos to new Summer Motion guru Cade Mahan (13) for landing his first big band for the July 3 through 5 concerts on the riverfront.

They’re still working on a country artist, which always seems to be a big crowd pleaser for Summer Motion.

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Lastly, happy anniversary to my wife, Beth (14). We have been married 32 years today! We are celebrating, of course, by going to a Reds game.

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

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