PERRY TOWNSHIP — The view from the Perry baseball dugout is a little different nowadays.
For many years, longtime Perry baseball coach Phil Krouskop made the short jog from the home dugout to the third base coaching box, where he would flash an array of signals to his batters.
In the early days of Krouskop’s tenure, a young Jon Shively could be seen, stepping out of the batter’s box, attentively reading the signals from his coach.
That was just the beginning of a long-lasting relationship between Krouskop and Shively.
Shively graduated from Perry in 1988, returned after college and got into coaching. Eventually, Shively worked his way into an assistant coaching position under Krouskop. Upon Krouskop’s retirement from coaching in 2007, Shively got his opportunity to be the head baseball coach.
However, on July 3, 2011 at the young age of 40, Shively passed away after a long battle with cancer. For 17 years, Shively was involved in nearly every sport at Perry. He also was the girls basketball coach and athletic director toward the end of his life.
Fittingly, both Krouskop and Shively will be honored before Saturday’s home doubleheader against Allen East. The baseball field will be dedicated and named in Krouskop’s honor, while there will be an unveiling of a monument in memory of Shively at 10:30 a.m. behind the baseball diamond, with the doubleheader to follow.
Gina Shively, Jon’s widow, said her husband’s life evolved around Perry schools. Gina, who is the school nurse, also took over the role of athletic director after her husband passed away.
“Ever since I started dating him, he’s been involved here. So, it’s been a big part of our lives, not only baseball, but with the kids and the community as well,” she said. “His parents graduated from here as well. He went to Allen East, like the first two years of school, but went to Perry the rest of those years. Then when he graduated (1988), he went to the Ohio State main campus for a little while, then moved back here to finish. When he graduated (from college) in ’94, he came back here and got a teaching position and was here ever since.”
During Shively’s coaching career, he was named coach of the year in the conference for girls basketball in 2008 and baseball in 2009 and 2011.
In Krouskop’s 39 seasons at the helm, he sported an overall record of 503-336. He garnered six league titles and 24 sectional championships and led his team to seven regional tournaments and the 1998 state final four. Krouskop, a 1961 Perry grad, played football and baseball at Bluffton College.
Gina Shively said her late husband and Krouskop had a special relationship.
“It’s so neat to see it happen on the same day, because Jon and Phil were very close,” she said. “When Jon was sick, Phil was the one that encouraged Jon to go to church. Phil was the one who prayed with him at the bedside. There were, obviously, others that did too. Jon respected Phil for the man that he is and the things he’s done for the community and the baseball program. In a way, Phil was Jon’s mentor. Jon wanted to accomplish all the things that Phil ever did.”
Jon Shively’s parents, Bill and Sandy, spearheaded the idea of putting up a monument in memory of their son. And once the project got started, the Shivelys received overwhelming support.
“It’s been a culmination of a year,” Bill Shively said. “Herb Lauer the art teacher, did the work on the monument. My wife and I did the work around the stone. Herb and Nick Weingart (high school principal), teamed up and took it from there. There have been so many volunteers. People from all over have contributed to this.”
Mark Hoersten, a 1975 Perry graduate and current head baseball coach, said both Krouskop and Shively are very deserving of the honor.
“In the past, they’ve never named a field or gymnasium after anybody (at Perry). But, after I got hired, they had the discussion about maybe finally doing that,” Hoersten said. “Phil, the record speaks for itself, really. He taught and coached here for 39 years. He’s got over 500 wins and he’s in the Ohio High School (Athletic Association’s) Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.
“Jon, on the other hand, taught here for 17 years and he’s probably coached on every level. The man loved baseball. He was always talking baseball. He always said this was his dream job and this is what he wanted to do,” Hoersten said.
Gina said Jon was a very determined person. She said the monument will help carry on her husband’s legacy.
“He passed on a Sunday and that Friday the doctors came in and asked, ‘What do you want to do?’ And he said, ‘I’m not leaving this hospital until I walk out of here.’
“So, he taught that to his kids — not to give up and to fight to the very end. I think, for me, seeing that memorial everyday, is going to be that reminder for me. He never quit, he never gave up.”
Krouskop said Saturday will be a very emotional day for everyone involved. The longtime Perry coach said he’ll be thinking about his former player and coach throughout the festivities.
“I’m as proud to be here for Jon as much as anything else. I’ve got a little prayer to say for him on Saturday. He gave me everything he had as a player and as a coach,” said an emotional Krouskop.