ASHLAND — The Independent's 13th annual sportsmanship award is named in memory of Tony Curnutte, a former sportswriter with the newspaper who died in January 2002 at the age of 39.
No moment looms too large for Logan Salow and his trusty sidekick.
Whether it's grabbing a pencil for an exhaustive four-hour session, gripping a baseball for a sultry seven innings (or more, if needed), gunning a basketball from deep as one second stares from the scoreboard or gracing the end zone with his pilfering presence during a 48-minute marathon against a football giant, Salow and his left hand simply live (and die) for "the moment."
“He’s always risen to the occasion,” said Mike Salow, Logan's father. “I don't brag on him too often, but it just amazes me the things he’s done and things I’ve seen him do.”
Ashland’s Logan Salow aspires to amaze, it seems.
The three-sport standout has consistently represented what the Tony Curnutte Memorial Sportsman of the Year award stands for. Salow's athletic achievement, sportsmanship and character have earned him the 13th annual honor, putting him alongside former Ashland greats Brandon Webb and Arliss Beach, among others.
“It’s an honor to be spoken in the same sentence with (past selections),” Salow said. “It’s very special.”
The two-time All-Area Baseball Player of the Year has outlined a future on the diamond, as he heads to the University of Kentucky as a preferred walk-on in the fall.
“Baseball was my first love,” he admits.
But he made a huge splash in each sport as a lifelong Tomcat.
“No matter what he’s played, he’s excelled at it,” said the elder Salow.
Ashland basketball coach Buddy Biggs said that three of his teachers would likely echo similar praises to that of his coaching trio.
Baseball coach Jeff Wilcox agrees.
“He really exemplifies the student-athlete,” Wilcox said.
Salow attempted the ACT five times solely because he needed just one more point to garner a full-ride scholarship at Kentucky.
His high score was a 30, which he achieved twice. That's just six points shy of perfection.
Perfection is located near the top of his expansive vocabulary. Salow threw two perfect games in Little League, one to earn an All-Star district title, and he later tossed an 18-strikeout spotless gem against Lawrence County as a high school senior.
When prominent figures were in attendance, the hard-throwing 6-foot southpaw revved it up a notch.
With Eastern Kentucky watching, Salow struck out nine of the first 10 batters he faced in an Ashland Post 76 game.
When a Kentucky coach infiltrated the stands, Salow fanned 17 batters in six innings of an American Legion district tournament game last summer.
“After that one, I said, ‘Logan, I don’t know what else you can do. They’re going to call you back,’” Mike recalled. “It was a great evening for him. I was so proud.”
That happened just months after Salow’s Herculean effort — 171 pitches in two days — helped boost Ashland to its first 16th Region title since 2004.
Salow seized the spotlight again in 2013 when, as a senior, he threw eight shutout innings en route to a 1-0 thriller of a region tournament victory against Lewis County.
Salow was named Most Valuable Player for each of his postseason all-around efforts.
While he couldn’t quite end Ashland's 11-year region title drought in basketball, Salow did his darndest.
With a lone second remaining, Salow drained a 3-pointer from the baseline that danced around the rim for what seemed like days to force double overtime against eventual region champion Fleming County.
After Salow recovered from both an ankle injury and a concussion, Ashland went 12-3 to finish off the season.
“He never let me down as a coach, never,” Biggs emphasized.
Salow may have only disappointed coaches in soccer, just because that’s the sport he chose to give up in fourth grade in favor of football.
“I tried it (football) out because all my friends played it,” Salow said. “I started liking it a lot.”
Soccer was Salow’s older brother's, Corey's, best sport.
Logan and Corey played varsity baseball together for one season (Logan's freshman and Corey's senior year).
Eric Salow, Logan’s oldest brother, was/is also a key influence.
Logan loved hanging out with the football and basketball teams when Eric played in the early 2000s.
“Arliss (Beach) was like a brother to me, and Mark Surgalski,” he said. “I idolized them, really.”
Aside from his brothers, Logan also grew up mimicking Ken Griffey Jr. Fittingly enough, Salow ended up an everyday center fielder when not on the mound.
Salow played defensive back like a center fielder, covering plenty of ground when need be. In Ashland’s playoff loss to perennial power Highlands, Salow picked off two passes in the end zone.
Salow also punted and played receiver.
Biggs called Salow a “throwback athlete.”
“In this day and age, a lot of kids seem to want to specialize and focus on one thing,” Biggs said. “They think they just choose their best sport.
“With Logan, he never ever let any one of us down in terms of commitment in all three sports. And he’s been a very busy young man the last four years. He’s had no offseason.”
Biggs didn’t hesitate to pinpoint Salow's best qualities.
“He’s always dependable, that's his greatest character factor,” said the roundball coach. “And he’s a dogged competitor, always wanted to be in the fray.”
Salow never ventures too far from the playing surface.
This summer, when not playing Post 76 baseball, Salow works two part-time jobs — at Ashland Sporting Goods and at the Championship Fastpitch Softball Complex.
When not playing sports?
“I like to golf,” Salow said before a short pause and laughter. “I like to just hang out, too. Maybe put my feet up and take a nap.”
Salow will join former Chandler Shepherd, the 2010-11 Sportsman of the Year, at UK in mere months.
“Going to UK, it means the world to me,” Salow said. “It’s like, man, you've made it. This is what you’ve worked hard for. I think it’s my dad’s dream, too.”
A former baseball and basketball player at Russell who somewhat serves as Logan's personal coach, Mike Salow is extremely excited about the future of his son draped in blue and white. But he's even more eagerly looking forward to watching Logan's grin grow to new levels as he steps inside the lines at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
He said his son was blessed with his mother Val’s infectious, outgoing personality.
“When does he ever not have a smile on his face?” Mike said.
Logan will bring that trusty left hand along, too.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.