Friday, February 11, 2011

Working the Historic Fieldhouse....

Another frigid morning, but maybe the last REAL COLD one for awhile.  Tomorrow we may hit 30, and by the middle of next week, depending on which forecast you follow, it could be in the upper 40s to low 50s.  Not sure I believe that, but it is February, almost mid February, and anything is possible, from Ice to Tornadoes...I've seen plenty of both in this changer over month. 

Worked a girls JV game at Van Wert last night, as the Lady Cougars took on WBL Rival St. Marys....the visiting Roughriders took both the preliminary and Varsity contests....tonight I stay in the WBL(Western Buckeye League), and stay home.  Working the boys JV contest between Celina and visiting Elida, both teams with the nickname of Bulldogs.  This will be my first chance to work the floor of the historic Celina Fieldhouse...the oldest, by far, active High School Varsity gym in the area.  Built in 1939 by the FDR Works Programs that tried(unsuccessfully) to dig the middle of America out of the Great Depression...the Fieldhouse, once the crown jewel of high school arenas, now is in it's 72nd year of Bulldog sports.  It has seen many classic games over the years.  I have broadcast many of those games on radio, and cable TV, I played some intramural hoops on this floor(or at leas the old floor, now replaced), and for many years I had front row seats from the view of the photo at the top, me and the boys had season tickets, squeezed into the corner, just off the north end basket.  One thing I have never done however, is officiate a game here...tonight will change that as well.

While I do work Junior High games at the Middle School, Freshman at the intermediate or High School...I have not yet worked this Fieldhouse, although I have been inside hundreds, if not thousands, of times.  I graduated in the building in 1967, I swept the hardwood floor in my year as a janitor, post Air Force, when I was a student at Wright State Lake.  And as mentioned, worked many basketball games as a broadcaster.  In addition I probably saw every home boys contest from 8th grade(when we moved to Celina in 1962) through my Senior season of 1966-67...tonight will be a little different.  I would never work a Varsity game here, not because I would favor one team over the other, but just because of the perception, but JV basketball, much like JV football and baseball, is not something I worry about being thought of as a "homer", you work the game right down the middle, regardless of teams.  And frankly, I want to say I worked the Fieldhouse, at least once in my basketball officiating years.

After my contest, I'll stick around and watch the Varsity game..should be a good one:  Celina comes in with 11 straight wins, and overall stand at 13 wins 2 loses, and 5 wins and 1 loss in the WBL.  They are locked in a three way tie with Defiance and Ottawa-Glandorf.  Meanwhile the visiting Bulldogs from Elida, stand just a game back at 4-2  in the league,with their overall 11 win 5 loss record.  Should be a dandy....and the first full game I will have watched here, since giving up my season tickets a few years back, when I got back into officiating high school sports.

Over the years, as I mentioned, there have been many classic games played at the Fieldhouse....none more so than back in January 1981, when undefeated Dayton Roth came to Celina with their top ranking, and took on a Celina team that was below .500.  Celina had one great player, Mike Hoyng, and a group of guys that, while not great players,, were hard workers.  I was doing the play-by-play that night for WCSM Radio, my sidekick doing color was Mark "Ryan" Nakon a young broadcaster out of the Cleveland area...he was pretty clueless about sports, but was full of talk...we had a great time doing the game, and Celina, who would remain below .500, for the entire season, won the whole ball of wax in overtime. A classic upset for the ages.  The tensions were so high, that the police kept the Roth fans in the building, until it emptied of local fans...I doubt that was necessary, but it made for a great recollection for years to follow.

As you can see from the story, Dayton Roth was a talented bunch, included on the roster was future Ohio State All American football player, and NFL all pro, Keith's equally hard to believe that the game was played 30 years ago last about time in a bottle.

It turned out that was the only loss Roth would have that season.  I would get to broadcast them again in the State Finals in Columbus early the coming spring, they would win the state championship in their division...but they would have that one blemish, a underdog Celina Bulldog team defeated them in OT on a cold winter night.  Yes the Fieldhouse certainly has it's history...tonight will be a bit of personal history for me.

Story and photos from the Daily Standard, and the Mercer County Outlook:

Photos-Looking at the floor from just above where I sat for the front row corner, just off the north end basket.  The Student has changed over the years, during my HS days we sat on the west side opposite the visiting bench(now the home bench)....and a Daily Standard photo of the classic upset of Roth.{the Roth player with the 4 in the far left is future Ohio State and NFL great, Keith Byers.


Gene Bach said...

Is it baseball season yet? I don't know about you, but I'm ready for the sound of wood against leather...don't much care for the sound of aluminum against leather: it just ain't right.

PRH....... said...

Our local meetings have begun Gene...I've got a handful of Basketball games to go, but still 6 weeks until my first Regular Season game....I'm more than ready for a break after roundball, and warm weather for the high school and college seasons.