COLUMBUS -- Sitting in the press box at Huntington Park, home of the Columbus Clippers, the Triple A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, covering the Hiland Hawks in the OHSAA Div. III State baseball tournament, I was flooded with memories of the countless sporting events I have been fortunate enough to cover over the past 28 years. Many of those memories took place in Columbus and included covering the Hawks.
To say "time flies while you're having fun" would be an understatement of the century.
My first trip to Columbus as a reporter was in 1989, when I had to drive from Ohio U, after watching the Hiland boys play Columbus Wehrle in the regionals, than cruising across Route 23 to Old St. John's Arena for the Lady Hawks' first appearance in Columbus, thanks to a 3-pointer from the corner by Julie Gerber.
That was the first of many trips to Columbus to cover the Hiland basketball teams. It is hard to believe that was even before Dave Schlabach was coach of the Hawks. Ora Shetler was the man in charge.
It's hard to fathom that it has been five years since I'd been to Huntington Park for the state tournament. Of course, while the Hawks were winning it all last year, I was toiling away in the news room.
What a wonderful facility this stadium is, designed to fit right in with the other buildings and warehouses in the area.
The last time I was here was when both Hiland and West Holmes were in the state tournament in 2012.
Boy, there were some great players back then, guys like Clinton Yoder, who is currently the first base coach of the Hawks. I still have the autographed line-up card from his no-hitter in the regionals against Greenfield McClain.
I remembered covering a Columbus Clippers game at the old Clippers stadium when they were an affiliate of the New York Yankees, and going out after the ball game with their late first base coach Ted Uhlaender, a former Cleveland Indian outfielder from the 1970-71 seasons.
A fraternity brother of mine knew Ted when he had a restaurant in Colorado in the 1980s and I was working at the Cleveland Indians Gift Shop back then. We had some old photos of Uhlaender in his Tribe attire that I sent out west to him. He couldn't believe there were any photos from way back then.
A few years later, when I heard he was coaching in Columbus, I met up with him while I was covering the state track tournament, and we sat in a Columbus dive until the wee hours of the morning, he relishing me with tales of his career, which started in Minnesota in 1965. He even shared a few Dean Chance adventures. I'm a good listener, whenever the talker is buying. Uhlaender died in 2009 at the age of 69.
Yes, hanging out in the press box on a perfect weather day, watching three baseball games, made me wonder why I ever got out of sports.
But then I remembered the stress of writing on deadline, the endless weekends and all that fun stuff that went with it.