Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

August 1, 2013

MARK MAYNARD: Park was home for players, families

ASHLAND — Martha Workman looks back on her days of watching baseball in Central Park with a nostalgic fondness. The place will always have a special spot in her heart.

Her husband, Bill Workman, loved coaching and her oldest son Bill loved playing. They had two other children, Debbie and Phil, who tagged along to games as well. “One was in a stroller,” she said.

Bill Workman, the son, started playing Little League when he was 7 years old when Clyde Chinn drafted him to play for the Orioles of the Ashland American Little League. That launched a baseball career that ended with Bill Workman as the starting shortstop and two-year captain at the University of Kentucky.

That was nearly 50 years ago when Bill Workman was part of Ashland’s first state championship baseball team in 1966. He also played on the 19-1 team that reached the state semifinals.

She said when Billy was given his first Little League uniform, it was way too big. But his skills defied his age and he enjoyed a rare five-year Little League career. He was also part of Ashland’s 1963 state Babe Ruth championship team. His father and Claude Workman (no relation) coached him in Babe Ruth.

But what Martha remembers most are those days in the park when she was watching her son Billy and his friends play baseball no matter what the age.

“It was such a fun time,” she said. “People were so different than they are now. Everybody enjoyed each other.”

Martha says a day at the park was really a day at the park. They didn’t go to watch just one game, they watched all the games. You packed your lunch and went to the park. To play, to eat, to relax, to socialize and to enjoy.

Her husband was an outstanding athlete from Catlettsburg, who played everything for the Wildcats — football, basketball and baseball. They were high school sweethearts and graduated together in 1947.

Bill was good enough to earn a football scholarship at Morehead College. They married after high school and she was pregnant with Bill a year later, so her husband gave up football and college. He started working for Sears, in the brand-new store downtown, but at the age of 19 went to work with Ashland Oil as a laborer and then worked his way up to eventually become the personnel manager at the refinery.

Martha remembers “a good group of boys who didn’t have much more to do than play baseball,” she said. But boy did they ever play baseball. From 1965 to 1969 the Tomcats put together one of the most amazing runs in Kentucky high school history. Ashland was state champion from 1966 to 1968, runner-up in 1969 and a semifinalist in 1965. None can match that feat.

“They went to the park to play ball and to win,” she said. “National League and American League (Little Leagues) were real competitive against each other.”

Martha said the family moved to Illinois during son Billy’s senior year at UK and their youngest son, Phillip, became a good basketball and baseball player in that state.

Her husband, Bill, who died in 2010, was also an avid golfer with seven holes-in-one.

“I didn’t quite make it to cheerleader (in high school) but I had the star of the teams,” she said. “We dated the whole four years we went to high school.”

Martha Workman, who is 84, says those baesball memories are strong, almost like it happened yesterday. And that, my friends, is what it’s all about.

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

Text Only
Local Sports
  • Salyers shoots 75 for title at Lakeside

    Baylee Salyers of Flatwoods shot a 3-over par 75 at Lakeside Golf Course on Thursday to win the Girls Open division of the Walmart Kentucky PGA Junior Tour event.

    July 24, 2014

  • 0724putnamwebshot.JPG Laying the foundation Workers are finishing the foundation for the locker room on the home side of Putnam Stadium on Tuesday. The Ashland Tomcats open the football season on Aug. 22 against Newport Catholic.

    July 23, 2014

  • Genuine throwback

    Todd Eastham is disproving the old cliche, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

    July 23, 2014

  • MARK MAYNARD: Looking for those who inspire

    Inspirtation, they say, comes from within. It is defined as an inspiring or animating action or influence.

    July 22, 2014

  • 0722KYPGA_152.jpg Jones tops Gillum in playoff at Eagle Trace

    Ashland senior golfer Logan Jones didn't shoot his average Monday.
    He didn't mind.
    His three-over par 75 and one-hole playoff win over Elliott County junior Ryan Gillum gave him the Boys Open division title in the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour stop at Morehead State University's Eagle Trace Golf Course.

    July 21, 2014 6 Photos

  • 102213_329a.jpg Raceland tabs Clark as new girls basketball coach

    Jason Clark has a reputation of being — to use his word — “passionate” on the Raceland volleyball sideline.
    He plans to bring that same approach as the Lady Rams’ new basketball coach.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0305region2_389.jpg Pass the Mayo: East sophomore PG, Lady Raiders preparing for winter run

    East Carter sophomore point guard Kristen Mayo has played basketball for as long as she can remember.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0718spinda.jpg Steelers super fan Spinda to be recognized in Florida

    Shawn Spinda doesn’t have to use speech to profess his passion for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
    All it takes is a quick glance for a person to get the picture.
    But to absorb the whole picture, you’ll need to clear your schedule.
    Spinda is one of several fanatics who will be recognized at the Sports Fans Conference in Orlando, Florida, which is set for Aug. 28-Sept. 1 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. He is a “What a Fan” NFL Fan of the Year nominee.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0703rfLL0204.jpg Little League State Baseball: Ready to run

    Morehead 11- and 12-year-old All-Star baseball manager Toby Gardner collectively likened his team to a racehorse.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0717prokick1.jpg Prokicker.com camp Eleven Ashland Tomcat football players were part of the Ray Guy Prokicker.com camp at Huntington High. The high-profile camps are put on all over the country. Rick Sang, an Ashland native who befriended Guy 20 years ago, is the camp's founder.

    July 16, 2014