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The Press Box for July 10

By Staff | Jul 10, 2019

Visited some friends in Cameron over the past week and enjoyed a great cookout, shared old memories and battled it out in horse shoes and corn hole. It was an amazing night. The two old guys 86 and 83 won the horse shoe match, but my friend and I won the corn hole. It was some old time fun yet still very competitive. I wasn’t up to par since I just had a pacemaker put in, but still managed to come from behind and sink a few shots to get the win.

Larry Miller and Benny Koontz were both old friends I met back in my coal mining days and two of the hardest working guys I’d ever been around. Larry has a greatgrandson 11 years old who was playing baseball and we went and watched him hit one over the fence to help his team to a nice win. Later that evening Benny told me a story about Larry hitting the longest ball he’s ever seen in a fast pitch softball game with the old Castle Club team. He said it came in a game at Bruce Park in New Martinsville off of Phil Stoneking, Witschey’s best pitcher.

I remember some of those games, they drew big crowds to New Martinsville for many years. Another great tournament was the one at Hundred every year. It’s hard to remember all the great players back then, but anyone who was around should remember the power hitting of Dave Bohrer. The fine play of Ron Renner, Dave Cisar, Tommy Haught, Butch Showalter, and so many more. I’ve heard tales of a couple guys who claim to have hit Bruce Pool. I don’t know if that was possible or not, it sure would take some power. Might not even be possible in baseball..

Roy Arman, a retired building contractor from New Martinsville, played his first softball game in an organized league at age 14 in 1948. Three years later, he hit his first home run, at a championship softball game in Woodsfield.

He hit his stride that year, smashing two more round trips, a triple, and a double. From there, it was playing or coaching in 11 world championship men’s fastpitch tournaments and 27 men’s and girls’ state softball championships with more than 3,000 wins. Those years included 12 years in Little League and American Legion baseball.

“We never had sponsors in those days,” says Arman. “We raised money by individual contributions and from the players’ own pockets and we traveled all over the US and Canada, including Victoria, British Columbia.”

Even while in the Army, Arman couldn’t stay away from athletics. He was a coach/player for a softball team in New York City that was made up of servicemen. Later, he played baseball against two players who turned out to be All-Americans: Sam Huff and Fred Wyant, who played football for West Virginia University. Huff went on to play for the New York Giants and Washington Redskins. Wyant also was drafted by the Redskins and later became a NCAA football official.

As for having “seen it all,” Arman remembers the sensational play by his granddaughter, Magnolia High School standout Paige Demarco, in 2008.

The play sealed the deal for his Diamond Queens in an 18/u girls’ fastpitch championship tournament at I-470 fields in Wheeling.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Paige swung so hard at a ball she dislocated her shoulder. Her dad, Greg, a physical therapist, was in the crowd and relocated the shoulder, whereupon Paige crushed a home run over the center field fence, batting with only one arm. Greg Arman is a fastpitch hurler, himself, who has both played and coached the game.

Then, there was the opening round of a men’s ISC world tournament in Phoenix, Ariz., Aug. 16, 1980. Roy’s team was playing Cedar Rapids in what turned out to be a 17-inning contest. Regulation play ended in a 1-1 tie and sent the game into extra innings.

For the first five of those innings, every time Cedar Rapids got a runner on, they would bunt to advance the base runner. And, every time they bunted, Arman’s third baseman would grab up the ball, tag the base runner on his way to third, then throw it to second to nail the batter for the double play. Finally, Cedar Rapids stopped bunting and went on to win the game 3-1. However, Arman is still in disbelief. “In five overtime innings of double plays, I never understood why they continued to bunt,” Arman mused.

“From 2001-09, Arman focused exclusively on the Diamond Queens. “Men’s fastpitch was dying out and it was difficult to find quality players who wanted to travel,” Arman explained. During those years, the Diamond Queens advanced to the PONY national playoffs and never had a losing season.

In 2009, however, Arman fielded no team. “It just seemed like we ran out of talented players who were not already committed to another travel team,” says Arman. But, the following year, Arman found those quality players and did field his Diamond Queens, made of players from Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Three of his players that year-two pitchers and a third baseman-took their skills to the next level and played at the collegiate level. Indeed, over the years, Arman has sent more than 50 Diamond Queens on to Division I, II, and III schools as freshmen starters and softball scholars.

In June of 2010 – in the middle of travel season – Arman suffered a stroke, at home, that would cause him to retire from active softball management. He is still well known it the local area as the man behind New Martinsville Fast Pitch Softball. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com