The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

June 23, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Phone call paves way for step up

Sports Editor

Paying a Sunday morning visit to the variety store...

Man in blue

Being selected to umpire in the state softball tournament never gets old hat for Rick Nemet, but even he admits he received a bonus when time came for the 2013 event the weekend of June 6-8 in Akron.

“It was originally scheduled to work the Division I state semifinal between Mentor and North Canton Hoover,” the former Jefferson boys basketball coach (not to mention, the high school for yours truly there) said. “But on Monday (of the week of the tournament), Jerry Fick (the Director of Softball Officials Development for the Ohio High School Athletic Association) called and changed me to do the plate for the Division II state championship game, which ended up being between (Newark) Licking Valley and (Springfield) Kenton Ridge.”

Nemet, one of the most well known and respect officials in both softball and volleyball in Northeast Ohio, admitted it made for an even more special trip to Firestone Stadium in Akron.

The game he worked did not start until 7 p.m. and was the final game played in the state tournament.

“It was cool,” he said. “That was quite an upcharge.”

Especially, considering the scores of the two games.

North Canton Hoover blew out Mentor in the game Nemet was slated to work, 15-3, in a five-inning, mercy-rule verdict.

However, Nemet’s contest in the D-II title game was a thriller, with Licking Valley holding off Kenton Ridge, 6-5. Licking Valley held a 6-2 lead going into the top of the seventh, but the visitors scored three times in the top of the frame to make it a nailbiter.

You can catch Nemet in action behind with plate — with fellow crew members Walter Opperman at first base, Charles Hall at second base and Bob Berzonsky at third base — on replays of the Division II championship game, which was played in 70-degree weather and took 104 minutes to complete, on STO.

Help (still) wanted

A couple of weeks ago, I asked if anyone out there in Loyal Readerland could help me with some information about some names.

Fortunately, I’ve received some assistance, including a wonderful, handwritten letter from Shirley J. Humphrey of Ashtabula midweek last week.

While her letter helped me with information about one of the men, I’m still in search of any type of information on the following:

Anyone having information regarding these gentlemen or their families is asked to contact me, either at the email address that appears at the end of this column or leave a message for me at (440) 998-2323, extension 244.

And finally...

Along those lines, my three-decade-old search for any photograph that shows where the baseball field that at one time was in the infield of the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds in Jefferson continues.

If anyone has, or knows of, any photographs that show the old ballfield there, please contact me in the manners listed above and below.

I will be sure to give you credit for any assistance I receive.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at