Bob Stacey was, predictably, on his way to officiate a cross country meet about a month ago when he fielded a call from Julian Tackett.
The KHSAA commissioner also phoned Bobby Lynch at about the same time.
Their news was the same: both will be inducted into the KHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
Stacey and Lynch are two of five northeastern Kentucky sporting figures who will join what is now a 491-member fraternity on May 20. The other three will be inducted posthumously: Charlie Adkins, Donnie Butcher and Joey Couch.
More or less from birth, Lynch has tried to outdo older brother Bill. Bobby was the Elks Sports Day honoree in 2009, seven years before Bill received the same honor.
Bill, however, got his KHSAA Hall pass in 2018, beating Bobby by two years. Did he let Bobby hear a little good-natured ribbing because of that?
“Yes he did, actually,” Bobby said, chuckling. “The competitiveness never stops. You gotta keep it going.”
Both Lynches were integral to a golden era of Ashland sports, particularly in baseball. Bobby was on the mound for two state tournament championship game victories — beating Shelby County, 2-1, as a sophomore in 1966 and topping Fort Knox, 7-2, in the 1967 final.
Lynch also pitched against Southern as a senior, a 1-0 Tomcats win in 10 innings, but wasn’t credited with the victory.
The first one was the one that stuck in Lynch’s memory. In those days, the state semifinals and final were played on the same day, and as Shelby County and Owensboro dueled in an 17-inning affair, with the Tomcats having already assured their berth in the final, Ashland coach Zeke Meyers sought out a sophomore Lynch.
“It must have been 45 minutes before game time,” Lynch said. “Coach came and told me, ‘By the way, you're pitching.’ I said, ‘OK!'
“Didn't really have time to worry about it, just went out there and tried to throw strikes.”
Lynch went 27-2 on the hill with an 0.42 earned-run average during his Ashland career and was also a member of a record-setting 880-meter relay team in track and field. It was in basketball that his college path lay, however: after scoring 1,277 points for the Tomcats and enjoying a 1966 trip to the Sweet Sixteen, he went to Alabama and lettered there for three seasons.
After graduation, Lynch considered a career assisting then-Crimson Tide coach C.M. Newton, but his parents were ill and he elected to return home with his wife, fellow Ashland native Jo Etta. He has lived in Ashland ever since.
Lynch attended his brother’s induction ceremony two years ago and is excited for his own.
“It's very well-done, as far as the induction ceremony,” Lynch said. “I really enjoyed it. I was very happy about it and was glad to be healthy enough to hopefully attend in May.”
Stacey’s prolific resume as a track and field and cross country coach and official will get a little longer in May. His daughter’s CV got a pair of boosts in the last couple of weeks, too: Becca Chaney was named the KHSAA boys cross country Coach of the Year shortly before her Boyd County boys team finished second in the Class 2A state meet for the second straight year on Saturday.
Stacey, speaking by phone from Lexington on Thursday, where he was preparing to officiate Saturday’s championships, gave the nod for his favorite sporting memory to the state title won by Fairview’s girls under Chaney’s watch in 2010.
That narrowly edges out the girls state track title Stacey skippered Boyd County to in 1980. He also officiated the U.S. Olympic track trials in Eugene, Oregon, in 2012 and ‘16.
Stacey came to coaching running in 1970 at Summit, he said, when as a substitute teacher he also picked up the duties of the faculty member for whom he was filling in.
He loved it, which is why he is still omnipresent at big local meets, as well as events in places such as Eugene and Houston.
“I lucked into it, and I just enjoyed doing it,” Stacey said, “and working all these meets and getting to see state champions and national champions and world champions.”
Stacey plans to cut back his officiating schedule after this year, he said. He’ll still be around at meets in Kentucky, but travel less outside the commonwealth in order to be around as his grandchildren become involved in sports.
Adkins-coached baseball teams at Paintsville and Johnson Central went 805-293 in 34 seasons, including 20 district championships and 14 region titles. After beginning his head-coaching career with the Golden Eagles in 1969, Adkins took over their cross-town archrival and stayed there for 33 years. He skippered the Tigers to the 1990 state crown, topping Tates Creek, 10-4, in the final, a year after Paintsville was the state runner-up. Those were two of five state semifinal berths the Tigers played in under Adkins’ lead.
Fifteen of Adkins’ players signed and/or played Division I baseball, and more than 40 players went on to play in college.
Adkins died in 2010.
Butcher parlayed a sterling basketball career at Meade Memorial and Pikeville College into a four-year NBA career — two seasons each with the Knicks and the Pistons. He amassed 1,696 points, 821 rebounds and 585 assists in 279 career NBA games.
Before that, Butcher lettered five years at Meade Memorial — since consolidated into Johnson Central — from 1951-55 and scored 2,400 career points as a Red Devil. Meade Memorial won two 59th District titles and made the 15th Region final in Butcher’s senior season.
After his playing career, Butcher coached the Pistons for a little over a full season. Detroit was 52-60 under his lead, making the NBA playoffs in 1968.
Butcher died in 2012.
Couch started for four seasons on both the gridiron and the hardwood at Paintsville. He ran for more than 2,000 yards and nearly 40 touchdowns and made about 300 solo tackles as a football Tiger, and he put up 2,034 points and 1,024 rebounds in a basketball uniform.
Couch’s Tigers played in the 1985 Class A state football title game, falling 14-6 to Crittenden County. Paintsville played in three straight basketball Sweet Sixteens with Couch in tow.
Couch was a member of the Sweet Sixteen All-Tournament Team as a senior, when the Tigers made the state semifinals, and was a three-time All-State honorable mention football player. He played in both the Kentucky-Tennessee all-star football game and the Kentucky-Indiana all-star basketball series.
Couch went on to play football at Kentucky and was selected as defensive captain as a senior.
Couch died in 2017.
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