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By Staff | Feb 20, 2019

The WVSSAC is considering going to four classes in sports. From what I have seen, recent letters sent out to the high schools call for 40 Class A schools and 28 schools in AA, AAA and AAAA. I don’t see how it’s going to help even things up; in fact, I believe it will make it worse. A school’s classification will be based on four factors: enrollment is 70 percent of each school’s score, proximity to county seat is 10 percent, proximity to a city of 10,000 is 10 percent, and county average household income would also be considered.

This is supposed to be voted next month; the talk seems to be it won’t pass the state board of education. However, Class A and AA – as it’s written – would not benefit at all from this; it would just open up two classes instead of one for private school dominance. Oh well. As mom used to say, quit whining and play ball.

WVU Coach Bob Huggins lost two players to suspension last week. Maybe some of the others will decide it’s time to get serious and abide by the rules. The season is already lost; with only seven games remaining, it’s highly unlikely there will be any post-season play. The suspensions were a serious message to the rest of the team that following the team’s game plan, living by the rules and competing harder are all part of staying a part of a team.

Huggins is, no doubt, working to get things back in shape. If it means others must go, than so be it; it’s easy to see some of the players currently on the roster have no business being there. The Mountaineers have a five-star recruit, the highest rated in school history coming in next season, in Oscar Tshibwe. Now’s the time to start getting ready for next season, figure out who wants to play and who doesn’t, and let’s make the future bright. We have the coach; now let’s give him something to work with.

A baseball legend passed away last week. The man who broke many barriers, and lost his battle with bone cancer at the age of 83. For the young folks of today, the name Frank Robinson may not mean much, but for those of us growing up in the fifties, sixties and seventies, we remember an icon. If you collect baseball cards and have a Frank Robinson original, put it in a safe place; you may have just hit the lottery.

Despite his tremendous accomplishments on and off the field, it seemed most of his role in the sport had been forgotten. People may now pay attention and realize he was one of the most impactful figures in baseball history. His influence on the game was dramatic.

Robinson made history during his 60-year Hall of Fame career. He was the only player in Major League Baseball history to win the MVP awards in both leagues, with the NL Reds in 1961, and the AL Orioles in 1966. He also became the first black manager in major league history. While playing for the Orioles in 1966, Robinson won the AL triple crown and was the MVP of the World Series.

He also helped the Orioles to the 1970 World Series title.

“Frank Robinson’s resume in our game is without parallel, a trailblazer in every sense, whose impact spanned generations,” MLB commissioner Bob Manfred said in a statement.

“He was one of the greatest players in the history of our game, but that was just the beginning of a multifaceted baseball career. Known for his fierce competitive will, Frank made history and was a centerpiece of two World Championship Baltimore Orioles’ teams.”

Robinson was a 14 time All-Star. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1956, hitting 38 home runs for the Cincinnati Reds. Three different franchises retired his uniform number, No. 20, and erected statues in his honor. His career as a player spanned 21 years in the major leagues, retiring in 1976 with 586 home runs – which was the fourth highest total in baseball at the time. On May 8, 1966 he hit a 541-foot blast off Luis Tiant, which cleared Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

He became the first black manager of Major League Baseball, with the Cleveland Indians. He also managed the San Francisco Giants, to become the first black National League manager, and later managed the Orioles, Montreal Expos and Washington Nationals. As a manager he ended with a 1,065-1,176 record, during his 16 years. In 1989 he was named AL Manager of the year with the Orioles.

Robinson was raised in Oakland, California, the youngest of 10 children, and was a former high school basketball teammate with NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell. He was an active civil rights leader in Baltimore after witnessing the city’s segregated housing and discriminatory real estate practices. In 2005 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, and two years later he received the first Jackie Robinson Society Community Recognition Award at George Washington University. Robinson stayed active until he was no longer able. When asked why he didn’t retire, Robinson answered, “That word’s not in my vocabulary.”

Speaking of retirement, my good friend Bruce Crawford is calling it quits after 18 years as the local sportswriter for the Wetzel Chronicle. Bruce enjoyed his time as a sportswriter and will be hard to replace. Hopefully he decides to stick around a little longer; good men are hard to find. They are worth their weight in gold.

Spring sports will soon be starting in our area,so I took a ride around some of the ball fields this week. With all the rain and nasty weather, it’s easy to say most are not in very good shape. Paden City has a very nice facility and by the time the season starts I’m sure it will be looking good. The Silver Knights have their work cut out for them, but with a few warm dry days they will have it in good shape. Get those ball fields ready to go, you never know where the next Frank Robinson will come from.

Paden City has had it’s ups and downs in boys and girls basketball this season. Both teams are undersized and lack that inside presence that’s always needed to be among the elite. The Paden City Girls Basketball team has had several big moments this year and finished with nine victories, two of which were over high-ranked teams. Coaches Miller and Natali have done a very nice job working with this team and preparing them mentally and physically.

The boys team, who only managed seven wins, has been through some tough times with the loss of a starter and another starter missing a few games with an illness. However, on Friday night, they went into Hundred’s Hornets Nest, a place where they lost by 26 a few weeks back. This time, they had a nice game plan. They spread the floor, hit a few threes – which opened up the inside for many easy looks. There was a lot of movement and tough defense by the ‘Cats, and they came away with a 69-62 win. The ‘Cats were up by 20 with four minutes to play but faltered a little down the stretch as they tried to get some time off the clock. However, there was no doubt about the outcome. It was a good game for the players and the coaches. Hopefully it can carry over to tonight’s sectional game.

Someone recently told me today is National Editors Day. I don’t know if that’s true, but everyone who writes for our local papers should give a big shout-out to our editor Lauren Matthews. Without her we would be in trouble. She sure knows how to make a bad story look good.