Lima tidbits

Bob Seggerson - Guest Columnist

In 1933 the Yankees’ Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig left New York City on the Penn Central train line headed for Kansas City to begin their off-season barnstorming tour. While on route, they received a telegram from Bernie Holloran, a Lima entrepreneur and an acquaintance of Ruth, with an offer of $5,000 if they would make a quick stop in Lima. When the train pulled into Lima, Ruth and Gehrig hopped off. They visited young fans at the Allen County Children’s Home, St. Ritas’ Hospital and St. Rose School and then paraded to the square in downtown Lima where they dropped autographed baseballs from the roof of the bank building. The Hall of Fame duo was then escorted to Murphy Ball Park (later named Holloran Park) in north Lima where the Lima Beans were playing the Celina Carp. Ruth played for the Beans and Gehrig played for the Carp that day. With the game tied in the 7th inning, Ruth smashed a prodigious two-run homer. Local legend has it that the ball landed on a box car passing on the B & O railroad tracks just beyond the right field-fence. Thus, the answer to the question: Who hit the longest home run in baseball history? Answer: Babe Ruth, Lima Beans, 1933. The ball traveled 406,560 feet. 345 feet over the fence and the rest of it on the top of a box car that arrived in Toledo 77 miles later.

Miller City attempted 63 free throws in a 1950 game against Continental. They only made 28 of the attempts but still won the game 58-56

Mike Mullen, (the voice of WIMA radio sports for many years) first ever high school broadcast, in November of 1974, featured two players who went on to play in the NBA. John McCullough (Lima Senior High-Phoenix Suns) and Kelvin Ramsey (Toledo Macomber-Portland Trail Blazers)

LCC’s Kathy Quinn was a Queen of the Cotton Bowl in 1964. Her fiancé, LCC’s Tom Lynch, was the captain of Navy’s football team that met the University of Texas in a game that decided the national champion that year. The final was Texas 28 – Navy 6

Lima Central’s 1952 football squad had several players who would rub shoulders with some of the greatest football coaches of all-time. Ross Mericle, the Dragon’s All-State quarterback, received an appointment to West Point, where he played under the legendary Red Blake and his position coach was a guy named Vince Lombardi. Bob Bassitt, an All-State tight end for Central played a year at Kentucky for Bear Bryant before being drafted and sent to Korea. And not to be outdone, fullback Jack Campbell played freshman football at Ohio State under the one and only Woody Hayes.

In a 1961 baseball game between Lima Senior High and Lima Central Catholic, the T-Birds brought in a reliever late in the game who gave the sell-out crowd at Simons Field something to talk about. Harry Johnson, a junior first baseman, had never pitched before but talked his coach into giving him a shot at the hot hitting Spartans. The lefty was given his 7 warmup pitches before striking out the left-handed hitting Dave Bowers. Johnson then asked the home plate umpire, Don Cheney, if he could have 7 more warm-up pitches because he intended to pitch to the next two hitters with his right hand. Cheney admitted that he had never encountered the request before, but gave his blessing. After his second warm-up, Johnson induced right handed hitters Vance Shuman and Ron Bice to pop up for easy outs. It was the only inning Johnson ever pitched in his baseball career. The Spartans went home the winner in the game that day, but the crowd left Simons Field buzzing about Johnson’s ambidextrous feat.

Dick Kortokrax who has the most wins in Ohio high school basketball history, with 890, was a head coach for 56 years. (Ft. Jennings, Ottovile and Kalida)

For those of you who miss the days of high scoring in high school basketball games, feast on this. In 1963 and 1964, Delphos St. Johns and Dayton Dunbar squared off in two high flying, entertaining shootouts. The 1963 half-time score, DSJ 62-Dunbar 50, looks like a familiar final tally in the current age of basketball. The final score was Blue Jays 105 - Dunbar 95. Between both teams, twelve players scored in double figures in that game. The following year the final score was, DSJ 109-Dunbar 90, and it included three players in the game who scored over 30 points. That was in the era of “hands off” basketball, the demise of which the Blue Jays fabled coach, Bob Arnzen, lamented till the day he passed.

Kalida’s Gene Stechschulte, an All-American shortstop while at Ashland University, was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals and groomed as a pitcher. On April 17, 2001 the Cardinals were trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks 15-1 late in a game and, calling “No mas,” the St. Louis manager, Tony La Russa, sent the rookie Stechschulte to the plate to pinch hit. It was his first at bat in the majors. Stechschulte hit the first pitch thrown to him over the left centerfield fence thereby becoming the only player in the history of major league baseball to hit a first pitch home run in his first plate appearance as a pinch-hitting pitcher. A feat that will likely never be duplicated.

Thanks to our readers for who provided some of these tidbits. There’s more where they came from.

Bob Seggerson

Guest Columnist

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