Hello Hoover baseball fans! School is back in session and the 2018 baseball season will be here before you know it. Tryouts begin on February 19, 2018 and the season opener will be Saturday, March 24th. The varsity squad then heads to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on March 26-30 to participate in the Mingo Bay Baseball Classic.

The Vikings finished the 2017 season with a record of 18-9 and 8-4 in the Federal League (2nd place tie with Green). The season came to a disappointing end on May 19th losing to eventual state champion Jackson 1-0 at Thurman Munson Stadium in the District Finals. The Vikings celebrated the program’s 1,000th win since 1954 on April 25th with a 3-2 win over Massillon at Dick Miller Field. The 2017 Vikings set a school record for consecutive winning seasons with seven (2011 to present). Hoover pitchers accounted for seven complete games and five shutouts. Offensive highlights included a .308 team batting average, .404 on base percentage and 61 stolen bases.

Please join me in wishing former Hoover baseball coach Gordon Knisely a very happy 90th birthday on September 9th. Coach Knisely led the Vikings baseball program from 1971-1984 winning 230 games during that span. Happy Birthday Gordie! Congratulations to former North Canton/Hoover High School baseball players Jack Sponseller (1949), Greg Gray (1966) and Bill Trumpeter (1969) who will be inducted into the Hoover Athletic Hall Of Fame on September 9th.

Dom Iero (2013), recent graduate of Kent State, has played professionally this summer after signing a contract with the Joliet Slammers of the Frontier League.

An exciting addition to the home game experience for the Hoover baseball team in 2018 will be public address announcer, Larry Snyder. Larry resides in the Youngstown area and is currently public address announcer for both the men’s and women’s hockey teams at Robert Morris University. Larry also does public address duties for the Stark County Terriers collegiate summer baseball team.

Recent news out of the OHSAA in Columbus includes seven forfeitures in 2017 resulting from pitchers exceeding the pitch count limitations, with an additional possible forfeiture being worked on. Though the reporting process may change in 2018, the limitations will certainly remain in place. The length of the high school baseball season may be extended two weeks starting in 2019. The National Federation Of State High School Associations announced the following rule changes with a focus on player safety. Effective 1/1/19, all balls used in high school baseball competition shall meet the NOCSAE standard at the time of manufacture to ensure baseballs are the same size, same weight and have similar playability. Effective 1/1/20, catchers will be required to wear a chest protector that meets the NOCSAE standard to help protect the heart and cardiac area. Modified rule language will now state that bats “not have exposed rivets, pins, rough or sharp edges or any form of exterior fastener or attachment(s) that would present a potential hazard.” A modification was also made to rule 8-2-7, which strikes the language preventing a player who is awarded first base on a base on balls the ability to over-run the base and return safely.

According to the 2015-16 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, there are 488,815 boys participating in baseball at 15,956 schools across the country.

I continue collecting any and all North Canton/Hoover baseball rosters, statistics, pictures, newspaper clippings, alumni contact information and uniform jerseys from past teams. Please contact me if you have anything to contribute. I recently completed compiling the 1978 team roster and discovered that Ray Kolp is the second North Canton native (Harold Warstler being the other) who has made it to the majors. Kolp’s major league career began back in 1921.

Craig Haueter (Email), (330) 936-1695

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