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CATCHING UP

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CORY VANCE

Catching Up

 

By: Ryan Wallace - www.vandaliabutlerbaseball.com

 

VANDALIA - When Trent Dues took the reigns as head coach in 1995, he knew he had something special in an upstart sophomore named Cory Vance. What he didn’t know however, was that the young lefty was on the brink of a legendary high school career, one that would see him rewrite the Butler Baseball record books along the way.

 

“I coached him in 1994 as a JV coach and I knew he was good, but I didn’t realize he was a future big leaguer in the making,” recalled Dues. “His biggest leap came between his sophomore and junior seasons, when he went from good to great.”

 

An all-around great athlete and five-tool baseball player, it was the southpaw’s flame throwing ability on the hill that would cement his legacy at Butler and ultimately take him to the major league mound.

 

It was a journey that started at a very early age for Vance. “After making all the all-star teams growing up and seeing success in the "big" games, I started to believe I could play at a high level,” Vance said. 

 

Vance didn’t just play the game at a high level, he played it on a whole other level — a sentiment that Dues echoed. “His talent level for baseball is probably the best I have ever had here at Butler,” Dues said.

 

After garnering attention as a freshman and sophomore, Vance would enjoy his breakout season as a junior.

 

The southpaw was the crown jewel of a District Championship Butler team that finished 25-4. He recorded an eye-popping 144 strikeouts, incredibly a number that he would duplicate as a senior. Not only did he break the school record for strikeouts in a season, he also shattered the record for ERA with an astonishing mark of 0.56.

 

“The moment was never too big for him. The bigger the game, the better he was,” remembered Dues. “He was an absolute fearless warrior.” A point that would be made evident in the tournament that spring against perennial power St. Xavier.

 

“I remember the atmosphere was electric, which was not always common for a high school baseball game,” Vance recalled. “The students had packed the bleachers that day.  The support for our teams was incredible and the students were loud and really excited.”

 

They had a lot to be excited about. Not only did they see Butler slay a giant on that day, they watched in awe as Vance mowed down the Bombers one-by-one, pitching a complete game and no-hit win.

 

“That game at Wright State is one of my best memories at Butler. We won a big game that day against a very good team and I was fortunate enough to throw a no hitter.”

 

While the stakes were higher on that particular day, every game with Vance on the mound seemed to be a spectacle. Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the Butler faithful each and every game would be a host of scouts.

 

While some would fold under that type of pressure, Vance welcomed it.

 

“I loved seeing scouts and radar guns in the stands, to me, that's what I worked so hard for,” said Vance. “I was just talking to my daughters (who are big into competitive softball) about the days that scouts used to come to my games.  They are both getting ready to attend showcases themselves, so I was explaining to them that when scouts attended my games it raised my confidence level which resulted in better performances.” 

 

As his senior year rolled around, Vance continued to dominate against what is an always ultra-competitive Butler schedule. In those days the Aviators were grinding it out with familiar GWOC foes in the now defunct GMVC (Greater Miami Valley Conference).

 

“We played several very strong teams from Cincinnati, but I remember Piqua and Sidney both having strong hitters in the middle of their lineup, Vance recalled.  “I always felt like the advantage definitely goes to the pitcher when a team has never faced you before, but I faced Piqua and Sidney many times so I assume their confidence level went up with each game I pitched against them.”

 

Vance would go on to play collegiately with one of those strong hitters in Sidney’s Derik Goffena. “Derik was probably my toughest out, and coincidentally became my teammate at Georgia Tech.” 

 

When his high school career came to an end, Vance was named a High School All-American, All-Ohio First Team selection and the Division I Player of the Year. In addition to the numerous awards and accolades, Vance owned every single season pitching record at Butler. A distinction that he still holds today, some twenty years later.

After high school it went without saying that Vance would be playing baseball at the next level.

 

The real question was where. As Vance continued to flourish on the mound, the D-I college offers flooded in.

 

“I took several visits to colleges like Ohio State, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, LSU and a few others but after all my visits and it became decision time I narrowed it down to LSU and Georgia Tech,” said Vance. “I was very close to choosing LSU before making my final decision.”

 

In the end, Vance would choose to play for Danny Hall at Georgia Tech. But the choice would not be an easy one. 

 

Vance entered the 1997 MLB Draft and was selected with the 348th overall pick in the 11th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. After much consideration, Vance chose to stick with his commitment to the Ramblin’ Wreck and was Atlanta bound.

Before heading off to campus however, Vance was selected as a member of the USA Baseball 18U National Team, where he would play alongside familiar names like Rick Ankiel, Austin Kearns, and Matt Holliday.

 

“Team USA certainly helped prepare me for the college game,” said Vance. “The players I was blessed to play with and against were all either drafted or going on to play at big D-1 colleges, so it allowed me to compete at that level prior to jumping straight into college ball.”

 

The team finished the World Junior Championships in New Brunswick, Canada with a 4-2 record, falling only to Chinese Taipei and Cuba. Vance would finish 4-1, with a 1.55 ERA and 25 strikeouts.

 

 

From there it was off to Georgia Tech where Vance would jump right into the mix of the very competitive ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference).

 

“There was a significant jump in talent level but it’s still the same game,” Vance recalled.  

 

“The hitting lineups you face in high school typically consisted of three or four strong hitters when facing a good team, whereas in college the lineups usually had six to eight strong hitters.”

 

The freshman made the adjustment, and went 6-4 with 102 strikeouts in 19 games, 11 of which were starts.

 

As a sophomore Vance got the nod to start 18 games, and finished 9-3 with 103 strikeouts.

 

When his junior season rolled around, the southpaw’s dominance only continued to strengthen. Vance capped off his junior campaign and college career with 13-3 record, 3.40 ERA and 123 strikeouts and was named a College All-American. 

 

Vance also touted a win mark that tied him for second most in a single season at Georgia Tech and he would end his college career with 328 strikeouts and 28 wins, the fourth most in school history respectively.

Through all of those wins, Vance does still have a favorite, and it came against the conference foe Seminoles.

 

“I remember beating Florida State at home in a nail biter, that was as exciting as baseball got for me.” 

 

The stellar season on the mound earned Vance first team All-ACC honors and would springboard him into the upcoming 2000 MLB Draft.

 

Vance still cherishes those days at Georgia Tech.

 

“I have so many great memories of my time at GT, when it comes to on the field memories, pitching on Friday nights under the lights was hard to beat.”

 

But Vance wasn’t just a dealer on the mound, he proved that he could be a closer off the field too.

 

“I used to love when recruits would come in on their official visit and Coach Hall would assign them to me to show them around,” Vance mused.  “Basically your job was to get them to fall in love with GT, in hopes of getting them to commit.”

 

At the conclusion of his junior season, Vance was again draft eligible. This time around, Vance was selected with the 107th overall pick in the 4th round, by the Colorado Rockies. For Vance, it was a realization of a dream coming true.

 

“That was an incredible experience,” Vance recalled. “I started playing baseball at five years old with a dream to play professionally.  All you can ask for as a player is an opportunity.  It actually blew my mind that I was getting paid to play the game I would have done for free.”

 

His first assignment as a professional baseball player was the A club in Portland, Oregon. He appeared in seven games, striking out 27 with an ERA of 1.11. The following season Vance made the “High-A” club in Salem, NC and was promoted to AA a season later in 2002.

 

Vance quickly adapted to his new “baseball life”, and found the life of a minor leaguer to be pretty routine. “The average day at home was a very normal life.  I had an apartment with teammates, and we would do "normal" everyday things during the day until it was time to be at the yard,” Vance recalled.

 

“I was always one of the first players there to get my running and lifting in before BP started.  On the road the team would usually have a time we would meet to take the bus to the weight room, come back and get some lunch then off to the yard.”

 

But as any minor leaguer will tell you — there are certain parts of the job that never get to be routine.

 

“I made very good friends along the way that become your family, Vance said. “Then out of nowhere, either you or your teammates would get the call to go up to the next level, and you’re left not knowing if or when you would see them again.”

 

For Vance “the call” came late in the 2002 season when Rockies pitcher Mike Hampton went down with an injury. The AA season had wrapped just two weeks prior, and Vance had returned home to Vandalia from Zebulon, NC.

 

“That call was very exciting,” remembered Vance. “I was at my mom and dad’s house, the phone rang and it was the Rockies. They asked what I was doing tomorrow morning, because I needed to catch my flight and join the team in Colorado.”

 

It’s a moment that Vance still can see vividly in his mind.

 

“I actually didn't comprehend what he meant, again I had been home for two weeks thinking my season was over.  Once it was clear that I was literally joining the team I mouthed it to my mom while I was still on the phone, and she ran and jumped in my arms,” said Vance.

 

“Truly a moment I will never forget.  I called my dad immediately and we were all so excited, a dream had just come true.”

 

Once in Colorado, the childhood dream became a reality. After years of work and determination, Vance was finally taking the mound in a Major League game.

 

“My first game in the big leagues was a whirl wind, I remember asking myself while on the rubber if the fans could see my knees shaking, to say the least I was nervous,” Vance recalled.

 

“My first batter faced was Steve Finley of the Arizona Diamondbacks and he flew out to centerfield.”

 

In the winter of 2002 Vance began to prepare for the upcoming spring training. What should have been a routine warm-up at the Butler Student Activity Center, quickly turned into the unexpected. “On the very first throw, it was like, 'Oh, no.' I knew right then something was wrong." 

 

While he would eventually be diagnosed with nerve damage in his pitching shoulder, even today the root of the issue continues to be a mystery.

 

Vance was able to play through the pain that season with the AAA Colorado Springs Sky Sox and again made it to “The Show”, starting three games and appearing in nine.

 

But after four surgeries failed to address the issues plaguing Vance’s shoulder, he pitched his final professional game in 2004 for the Texas Ranger’s AAA club in Oklahoma City and left the game completely in 2006.

 

“There are two lessons that I take away from my journey,” Vance said. “It takes a lot of hard work, there are a lot of great players out there.  Also, never take anything for granted.  I was living a dream and out of nowhere had a shoulder injury and just like that it was over.  Take it all in and enjoy every day.”

While his baseball journey was coming to an end, another journey was just starting to begin. While in Arizona with the Texas Rangers organization, Vance met his future wife Alison Cowart. The two would eventually marry and settled down in Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix.

 

Vance would also go from throwing fire to fighting it, becoming a firefighter for the city of Casa Grande. A role that he has held for the last ten years.

 

Cory and Allison have two daughters whom they are very proud of in Taylor (14) and Kate (12). Like their dad, both girls are naturals on the diamond.

 

“My family spends a lot of our time at the softball fields,” said Vance.  “Both Taylor and Kate play competitive travel softball that is year round.  I love coaching them and it has created a bond that I remember having with my family growing up.”

It’s a journey that has come full circle for Vance.

 

“My journey in baseball throughout my life has played a huge role in who I am today, Vance said.

 

“A big part of that was my time at Butler.  I had an awesome coaching staff in Coach Dues, Coach Thompson and Coach Matteson who not only helped me as a player but also as a person.  I'm so thankful for everything I learned from them.”

 

It’s an admiration shared by his former head coach.

 

“Cory and I have grown to become great friends, which I highly value.”

 

In May of 2012 Vance was inducted into the inaugural class of the Butler Athletic Hall of Fame and also had his high school number officially retired. In October of that same year, Vance was inducted into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.

Coming from someone who has been to the pinnacle, Vance has sage advice to offer this generation of Aviators.

 

“First off you have an amazing coach — Coach Dues has a tremendous amount of knowledge and you are blessed to be in a great program that he has created, said Vance. 

 

“Stay humble and work hard.  If your goal is to play at a high level then you will have to earn it.  Most importantly, remember this is a game so have fun and enjoy the process.  Trust me when I say, one day you will miss it, so give it all you’ve got.”

 

As a player Vance was always known for giving it everything he had, with a burning desire to be the very best.  It's a fire that still propels him today as a husband, father and coach.

Cory Vance National Team Card
Cory Vance National Team Card

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Cory Vance GT Schedule Cover
Cory Vance GT Schedule Cover

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Cory Vance and family
Cory Vance and family

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Cory Vance National Team Card
Cory Vance National Team Card

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JOSH BETTS

Catching Up

 

By: Ryan Wallace - www.vandaliabutlerbaseball.com

 

VANDALIA – Often referred to as the “Purple Reign”, the late 1990’s and early 2000’s were truly a golden era in Butler athletics. The football team was a perennial playoff power, the basketball team triumphed through the tournament and the baseball team made a number of District and Regional runs.
 

One name firmly entrenched in the mix of it all was Josh Betts.
 

While Betts may be best known for his playmaking ability under the Friday night lights, he was also a big bat and sure glove for the Aviators at first base from 1999 – 2001.
 

Betts was a part of an incredibly talented group of Aviators that went 73-16, won two district titles, and made a D-II Final Four appearance in Columbus, eventually losing a heartbreaker to Tallmadge.
 

“That junior year season was by far the best, as it was the group of guys I had played with since I was 9 years old, playing with the Vandalia Merchants,” said Betts. “We had an awesome quality group of players at every position, many great memories with some amazing coaches and friends.”
 

The 2000 season still remains the best to date, as the Aviators finished 28-3, making them the winningest team in school history.
 

As if the games were just played a spring ago, the memories of those days continue to live on in the mind of Betts.
 

“There are very vivid memories of many games, both highs and lows throughout my career,” Betts recalled. “Many more successes than failures that will always stick out to me. The Moeller and Coldwater double headers were always great battles that I looked forward to.”

The Next Level

 

As Betts continued to flourish in all sports, it was his play on the football field that started to get the attention of a number of DI programs at the next level. For Betts, the decision was an easy one to make.

 

“I had scholarship offers from Akron and Ball State but Miami was hands down my first choice of the three,” said Betts. “The football legacy and academic reputation made it an easy decision. Ultimately, I wanted to know that if my athletic career ended at any time, that I would be able to get the best possible education.”

 

While Betts still had baseball in his blood, his focus at the next level was locked in on football.

 

“Honestly, after realizing my opportunity to play Quarterback at Miami, I felt that in order to lead a team and make sure I gave my all, I wanted to focus 100% on that sport,” said Betts. “There was a time early in my college career where I contemplated baseball, but ultimately stayed with just football.”

 

Though not formally playing, Betts still found a way to get his baseball fix.

 

“I did convince the baseball players to let me hit batting practice once in a while, as well as watched and supported the Redhawks baseball team during their season,” Betts recalled.

 

Betts ended his high school football career with another stellar season. As a senior, Betts completed 160 of 262 passes (61 percent) for 2,817 yards, 19 TD's and just four INT's. He was the All-Southwest Ohio Offensive Player of the Year, and was an All-State Second Team selection.

 

The focus for Betts now, was making the jump to playing football at the collegiate level.

 

“I think that for any transition to a better level of play that there is a learning curve,” said Betts. “Most of this was focused on the mental aspect of the game, especially for a quarterback. My ability to bench press was not nearly as important as my ability to read a defense, make quick decisions, and lead a team of men down the field. The more time, effort, and reps put in to anything in life will increase one’s ability to be successful.”

 

After redshirting his freshman season, Betts completed his first collegiate pass in memorable fashion. Facing off against rival Cincinnati, Betts came on to execute a trick play known as "Hootenanny”, which he connected on with tight-end Tyler Vogel, for a dramatic 13-yard touchdown and 31-26 win over the Bearcats.

 

The successor to Ben Roethlisberger, Betts would take the helm for the Redhawks in 2004, starting at quarterback for his junior and senior seasons. He would become just the second quarterback in school history to throw for 3,000+ yards in a season, a feat that he repeated in 2005.

 

Much like his recollections of playing days at Butler, it’s not one certain play or game that necessarily sticks out.

 

“Similar to many of the teams I played on, I feel that I remember so many individual plays throughout my career at Miami,” Betts said. “Certain passes, audibles, touchdowns, big plays all are memories that I cherish. Singing the fight song is still one of the best memories I have and I have passed it on to my boys.”

 

Moving On Up

 

After finishing his collegiate career with more 7,000 yards passing, 54 touchdowns and back-to-back bowl appearances, Betts was off to the NFL as an Indianapolis Colt. Much like his early days at Miami University, Betts would take snaps alongside a future Hall of Famer, this time Peyton Manning.

 

Though his career in the NFL would be limited to 2½ years, it remains an incredibly special time in Betts life, as it was filled with a number of personal and professional milestones.

 

“The experience of getting the chance to play in the NFL was full of challenges, uncertainties, accomplishments, excitement, and memories that were wrapped up in those two and a half years,” said Betts.

 

“I could write a short book about my time there, including time spent with Peyton Manning, Jim Sorgi, Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell, Adam Vinatieri, as well as many others who were an honor to play with and play for. I made some lifelong friends during my playing career.”

 

In his first season, Betts was a member of the Super Bowl Championship team, as the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears 29-16 in Miami, FL. But a championship ring wasn’t the only ring of significance that year.

 

“The first year was pretty amazing being able to be part of the Super Bowl Championship team, get engaged, and have my entire family with me in Miami (FL),” recalled Betts. “I will always cherish the memories I had with my grandfather, Dan Kane, who was able to come to Miami (FL) and experience this time with me.”

 

Betts made his NFL debut in the final pre-season game of the 2006 season, a moment that he can recall with great clarity.

 

“The first thing was the size of the stadium. Although I had played at OSU, Michigan and an NFL field in Philadelphia, everything about the NFL experience from that view felt bigger, said Betts.

 

“The good and bad about my first game playing was that I got in for the last drive of the last preseason game against the Bengals at home in Indy. We were able to drive down the field a bit and then we had a play action pass faking to the running back over the right tackle and having double post called to the field on the right. They were playing cover-two, so the outside post converted to a takeoff. The running back missed his assignment to get the outside backer and he came barreling down at me. He lit me up just as I released the ball to the outside receiver. I lifted my head in time to watch the play on the big screen and watched the receiver drop the ball in the end zone. Unfortunately, my next pass was intercepted so instead of ending my first game 4-for-6 with 75 yards and a touchdown, it ended 3-for-7 with 30 yards and a pick.”

 

“The thing about my time in the NFL was that with limited opportunity, you needed to take advantage of every chance you got and maybe get a little lucky on the way. All in all, a time I will never forget,” said Betts.

 

Looking back on his college and professional sports career, the enormity of the achievement and sacrifices is not lost on Betts. “I give thanks to all of the coaches and parents who had helped me my entire career,” said Betts.

 

“As I start to coach my kids, I realize the sacrifice that so many others made to help me become a better ball player as well as a better man. My parents especially have sacrificed so much for me and my siblings and that is something that means more to me than any trophy I could have ever received.”

 

“Education and my behavior always trumped athletics in my household growing up and I value that so much,” Betts emphasized.

The Next Chapter

 

Today Josh Betts is a husband and father of three. He and his wife Kristy live in Dublin, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio with their three children Kane (6), Kamden (4), and Kenley (10 months).

 

Since moving back from Indiana in 2009, Betts has spent the last eight years working in sales for Zimmer Biomet, a medical device company. It’s a role that allows Betts to play a key role in creating positive impacts on the lives of many.

 

“I have been blessed with a career that helps people improve their quality of life and allows me to interact with amazing nurses, doctors, and hospital staff, that spend their time helping other people,” said Betts.

 

A member of the Butler Athletic Hall of Fame inaugural class, Betts has stayed closely connected with his roots. He returned to his alma mater last year, speaking to the football team about the importance of taking control of your future.

 

“Teenagers and young adults have a very unique opportunity to directly impact their future by choosing to learn new skills and better educate themselves,” said Betts. “Rather than spending summers on their phones and at the pool, taking the initiative to reach out to successful business owners and ask for internship type jobs will reap many benefits as they become contributing members of society. They also need to know that decisions have repercussions and many can be life altering, so understanding when to say no may be the most important thing they learn.”

 

In looking back at when a teenage Betts was molding his own future, he points back to his time within the Butler Baseball program and the impact that it has made in his own life.

 

“I want to express how fortunate I was to have the quality of baseball coaching I received from Coach Dues, Clark, Thompson, and Bardonaro,” said Betts. “I hope Butler and the entire Vandalia community recognizes how amazing this group of men are and how influential they are to the boys that go through their program; not only having one of the best head coaches to ever coach the game, but as men who care about helping raise quality individuals. I want to thank them for what they have taught me on the field and in life, and express how much I appreciate their friendship.”

 

From the nine year old boy playing for the Vandalia Merchants, to Super Bowl Champion, it’s been an incredible ride for Betts — but it’s hard to not think that the best is yet to come.

Josh Betts and fellow Aviators pose for Dayton Daily News feature
Josh Betts and fellow Aviators pose for Dayton Daily News feature

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Josh Betts and family
Josh Betts and family

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Josh Betts and fellow Aviators pose for Dayton Daily News feature
Josh Betts and fellow Aviators pose for Dayton Daily News feature

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VANDALIA - The walk-up song for Butler batters has been a part of the Aviator’s game day experience for years.
 

Former Aviator and 2008 graduate Zach Dumler easily holds the distinction for most unique song however, being welcomed to each plate appearance by the Zulu chants that precede the Lion King’s Circle of Life.
 

“Zach was a character,” said head coach Trent Dues. “He made coming to the ballpark enjoyable every day.”
 

Unique as it might have been, when translated to English it couldn’t have been more perfect.
 

“Nants ingonyama bagithi baba [Here comes a lion, Father]
Sithi uhm ingonyama [Oh yes, it's a lion]

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba [Here comes a lion, Father]
Sithi uhm ingonyama [Oh yes, it's a lion]

Ingonyama [It's a lion]
Siyo Nqoba [We're going to conquer]”

 

Whether it was opposing pitchers while at the plate, or bearing down on batters from the mound, like a lion, Dumler conquered the competition throughout his career at Butler.
 

His biggest conquest however, was a major battle that he would have to face off of the field. Dumler was born with a heart defect that limited the flow of blood to his heart.

As a third grader, Dumler underwent angioplasty to increase blood flow. Despite the procedure, the young Dumler was still restricted when it came to sports.
 

“As a child I wasn’t allowed to play many contact sports or sports that required a lot of running,” Dumler said. “It didn’t interfere with my baseball career though. I fell in love with baseball, probably because it was the only sport I was able to play without being singled out.”
 

In July of 2006, at the age of 17, Dumler would undergo a six-hour open heart surgery. While he was in and out of the hospital in just an incredible three days, the cracked sternum he received from the surgery kept him down for two months.


Down, but not out. With a successful surgery behind him, Dumler got the greenlight to play basketball, a sport that he had previously been forced to give up as a child. That winter Dumler tried out for and made the Butler varsity basketball team.
 

"It was probably the happiest day of my life when I finally got the OK to play. I've always loved sports and just hoped for the chance to compete." said Dumler.

For Dumler though, his first love would always be baseball.
 

He made his varsity debut around tournament time of his freshman season, and became a regular by the time his sophomore year rolled around, spending the bulk of his time as a pitcher and first baseman.
 

“I played anywhere that I was told and that would benefit the team,” Dumler recalled.

Versatile as he was, and the 6-foot-1, 210 pound southpaw quickly made a name for himself on the mound for the Aviators.
 

“Zach was a bulldog on the mound,” said Dues. “He always had really good stuff from the left side.”
 

Good stuff indeed.
 

Dumler enjoyed his breakout season as a junior. That year he finished with a 7-2 record and sported a 2.15 ERA. A mark that would earn him a First-Team GWOC North designation.
 

As a senior, he came on even stronger, touting a fastball that reached speeds north of 90 mph. Dumler would have his most successful season from the bump, striking out 84 batters, en route to a 6-1 record and 1.22 ERA. The lefty also had three shutout wins to his credit.
 

As dominant as he was on the mound, he was equally as devastating to opponents at the plate.

“Zach also swung the bat very well,” recalled Dues.
 

As a senior, Dumler led the Aviators in most all offensive categories. Boasting a batting average of .485, 35 RBI, 2 HR and 6 doubles.
 

The impressive campaign earned Dumler First-Team GWOC North honors for the second year and saw him named the GWOC North Athlete of the Year.
 

While the Aviators finished an uncharacteristic second place in 2007 and 2008, Dumler was a key part of Butler’s successful post-season run, netting a District Title in 2008.

When looking back, Dumler recalls the importance of the team first attitude that carried the Aviators to a deep tournament run.
 

“For current Aviators, I stress the importance of building relationships with each other and having each other’s back,” stated Dumler. “Buy in to what Coach Dues is preaching, because his knowledge and understanding of the game has given him the success he has today.”
 

After an improbable tournament run and District crown, the Aviators would eventually fall in the regional semi-final to Lakota East, by a score of 4-3.
 

“That game sticks out the most in my mind,” said Dumler. “I really wish I could go back and relive that moment and I wish things would have worked out differently.”
 

“Colton Catani was the starting shortstop for Lakota East, Dumler recalled. “He hit the game tying home run in the bottom of the seventh inning and they went on to win the game in extra innings.”
 

And while the sting of that defeat remains, the triumphs are abundant as well. When asked about the good times, Dumler’s mind quickly took him back to a clutch performance against a familiar foe.
 

“It was my junior year and we played Northmont during a crucial time in the season, with tournament approaching,” Dumler remembered. “I started on the mound and went the distance beating them. It felt great because not only did it give us momentum going into the tournament, but also because they were such a big rival.”
 

In looking back at his achievements as an Aviator, Dumler is quick to credit the Butler Baseball staff.
 

“We were, and still are really lucky to have a group of coaches who care about the players and live for the game,” said Dumler.

After a successful high school career, one that seemed nearly impossible so many years ago, Dumler was about to realize a lifelong dream.
 

Three schools came calling, but it was Ohio Dominican University in Columbus that Dumler would officially sign with.
 

Dumler spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons as a pitcher for the Panthers, before transferring to the University of Rio Grande, where he would finish his collegiate career.
 

He played a number of positions for the Redstorm, and wrapped up his career with a .321 batting average, 8 doubles and 34 RBI and finished 2-0 from the mound in 8 appearances.
 

Dumler graduated from the University of Rio Grande in 2013, and returned to the baseball team the following year as a member of the coaching staff.
 

In 2015 he left the Redstorm to attend Ohio University, where he would go on to earn a Master’s Degree in Coaching and Leadership.
 

While at OU, Dumler joined the Bobcats baseball staff, winning a MAC Championship during the 2014-2015 season.

After graduating from Ohio University, Dumler left coaching and returned to Columbus, Ohio where he currently resides with his fiancé Meg Cummins and is a professional in the mortgage industry, working for JPMorgan Chase.
 

Reflecting on it all, Dumler emphasized the importance of having the love and support of his parents along the way.
 

“I’ve been incredibly blessed to have my parents and my younger brother Ben by my side,” Dumler said. “I appreciate them always being there and leading me in the right direction throughout my life and career.”
 

It’s only fitting that this article ends similarly to how it began – with another reference to the opening sequence to the Circle of Life.
 

The happy couple recently learned that they are expecting. It’s now time to conquer that thing called parenthood – here comes a lion.

ZACH DUMLER

Catching Up

 
Team photo from Dumler's playing days
Team photo from Dumler's playing days

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Dumler pitching for Butler
Dumler pitching for Butler

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Zach and Meg
Zach and Meg

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Team photo from Dumler's playing days
Team photo from Dumler's playing days

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DICK SCHERER

Catching Up

 

By: Ryan Wallace - www.vandaliabutlerbaseball.com

 

VANDALIA - This Friday evening, April 27th the Butler Baseball team will host an Alumni Night for the 7:00 PM game versus Xenia.  Between innings the Aviators will honor Butler Baseball alumni in attendance.

 

Throwing out the first pitch for Friday's festivities will be 1946 Butler graduate Dick Scherer.  The 89-year old right hander should feel right at home, as he served as a pitcher and shortstop for the Aviators from 1943 - 1946.

 

"It is a great honor," said Scherer from his home in St. Marys last week.  "I never expected anything like this."

 

Scherer will certainly be the most seasoned of former players in attendance, and truly someone who was there from the infancy of the program.  

 

While the Aviators formally fielded the school's first organized baseball team in 1930, the program was quickly disbanded after the 1931 season due mainly to poor performance and lack of facilities.  It wasn't until the 1941 season that baseball returned to Butler as a mainstay.

 

In the early years games were played on a diamond owned by Vandalia resident Harry Brusman, but the Aviators soon moved to a field behind the old high school and former Morton Junior High.

 

In fact it was M. Byron Morton himself who coached Scherer and the Aviators from 1943 - 1946.  They are days that Scherer looks back on fondly.

 

"I enjoyed playing baseball and being with my friends," said Scherer. "We had a good team and it gave me something to do."

 

Of those teams, Scherer recalled the 1946 team as being one that still stands out the most in his recollections. 

 

"Great times with guys like Ray Nardini, Norman Monnin, Bill Shoup, Tom Scheibenberger, Gene Lacoste, Jim Arndts and many others I can’t remember at the moment."

 

He started his Butler career as a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball.  But after a season of basketball, which at the time was played in the basement of the high school, Scherer shifted his focus to football and baseball.

 

For Scherer the passion for baseball is one that has never left him.  

"I just loved to play baseball and ended up being pretty good at it. I was fortunate to play into my forties with a team from Vandalia. We played all over the state," he said.

 

Not only was Scherer one of the pioneers of sorts for the baseball program, he also played a role in a number of firsts on the football field as well.

 

Scherer was a member of the 1945 football team that played in the city of Vandalia's first ever night game under the lights at the newly christened Butler Memorial Field.

 

The team went on to defeat Osborn-Bath by a score of 13-0 in the inaugural game, making them the first team to win on the new field.

 

"Our class had  built that field," recalled Scherer.  "Harold Burton, a US Senator and Supreme Court Justice, came and dedicated the field.  He even remembered us when we went to Washington DC on our Senior Trip." 

 

Another came later that season, when the Aviators played in an ultra rare football double-header.  Remarkably Butler followed a 28-0 shutout of Madison (Trotwood) with a 40-0 blowout win over Milton-Union.

 

There is yet another first for which Scherer holds sole distinction.

"I was the first player to get a broken bone on Memorial Field," Scherer chuckled.  "It happened right in front of my parents who typically never came to my games because they were working."

 

Scherer's father Leo worked as a butcher at The Market House in Dayton and his mother Beatrice worked in a Dayton factory that made carbine rifles.

 

Scherer didn't just play sports at Butler, he also covered them and penned a number of articles as the school reporter for the Butler Aviator, the high school's newspaper.

 

After graduation Scherer went to work for his father at the butcher shop but soon left to work for Board of Education President Russell Stoner, who also owned and operated a fruit farm.  That fruit farm is known today as Monnin's Fruit Farm.

 

From there Scherer spent time working at  Elder’s (Known as Elder-Beerman today), was a meat packer at Focke's and went on to begin a career at Fridgidaire.

 

He married his high school sweetheart Frances Jean Stutelberg (Class of 1947) in 1950 and that same year was drafted into the Korean War.  Scherer would spend the next two years in Korea before returning to Frigidaire, where he would work for the next 25 years.

 

After Fridgidaire, Scherer worked for the Rescue Squad in Butler Township, at which time was located in the building across from Murlin Heights Elementary.  Scherer would earn the rank of Lieutenant during his time at the department.

 

It was in talking about his time with the Rescue Squad that Scherer shared an interesting fact about the department's transportation.

 

"Our rescue ambulance was Morton Funeral Home's hearse," recalled Scherer.

 

 At 40 years old Scherer took on his next adventure, changing careers and moving on to the Sheriff's office, where he would work for the next 25-years.

 

His wife Fran passed away in 1976, and he later remarried Martha Imwalle.  The couple has been married for over 35 years.

 

For Scherer, life has been good and filled with many blessings along the way.

 

He has two children from his marriage to Fran, nine step-children and over 100 grandchildren.  Five of the children graduated from Butler through 1976 to 1988.

 

Granddaughter Brooke is currently a junior at Butler and plays soccer for the Aviators.  Another granddaughter Madison graduated in 2016 and played

volleyball and softball for Butler.

For Scherer, life has been good and filled with many blessings along the way.

 

He has two children from his marriage to Fran, nine step-children and over 100 grandchildren.  Five of the children graduated from Butler through 1976 to 1988.

 

Granddaughter Brooke is currently a junior at Butler and plays soccer for the Aviators.  Another granddaughter Madison graduated in 2016 and played

volleyball and softball for Butler.

 

The memories of his time in Vandalia are ones that are still very special to Scherer.

 

"I’m grateful for growing up in this area," he said.  "I was and still am proud to be a Butler Aviator."

Dedication of Butler Memorial Stadium
Dedication of Butler Memorial Stadium

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Dick Scherer and fellow seniors with Coach Caton
Dick Scherer and fellow seniors with Coach Caton

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Dick Scherer throwing out the first pitch
Dick Scherer throwing out the first pitch

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Dedication of Butler Memorial Stadium
Dedication of Butler Memorial Stadium

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