Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites and outdoor publications, and for the past ten years has served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Widely knowledgeable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the Midwest. He and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.

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There is no better description, or better reason for getting together on a sultry June evening.  It was nothing more than boys playing baseball on opening night of the 2017 Craig Stammen youth baseball “Classic”.

Versailles –  The only thing hotter than the 90 degree weather and 80 percent humidity was shortstop Adam Kremer.

The shortstop on Versailles’ 14-year-old entry in this weekend’s Craig Stammen Classic, Kremer created some heat of his own with a single, a double, and a triple in a run-rule victory over the 14-year-old entry from Minster in one of two Friday night games to open the 2017 Versailles weekend-long youth baseball tourney.

The namesake was, of course, 700 miles away playing baseball in Milwaukee.  But Kremer, and others like him from Minster, Troy, and Fort Loramie, paid not attention to  the heat and humidity Friday, and played with the same passion and motivation that took Craig Stammen from these same Versailles sandlots to the major leagues.

rjwarner_embed_284x200In Troy’s game against Fort Loramie, left fielder Dawson Roby nearly made a running circus catch over his shoulder that would have made any big leaguer proud.

Loramie pitcher Darren Hoying pounded the strike zone early in his three innings of work, the goal of a good prospect at any level of baseball.

But there were mistakes, too.  Errors in commission, and omission.  Part of the process of learning through experience.  It was boys playing baseball for sake of learning to play baseball…and no one, win or lose, thought the less of it.

There are 50 teams, more or less, participating in this weekend’s tournament…from St. Henry, Coldwater, Piqua, Troy, St. Marys, Loramie, Minster, Versailles of course, and Russia and Indian Lake.  From eight years old and up, games will be played in five different venues throughout the weekend to eventually crown champions in each age group.

Troy's Ty Davis (#4) nearly made an over-the-shoulder circus catch against Fort Loramie.

Troy’s Ty Davis (#4) nearly made an over-the-shoulder circus catch against Fort Loramie.

It’s good competition, if not the best baseball – a work in progress as coaches like Troy’s Mark Evilsizor would admit to.  How else do you learn…without playing?

It’s well supported, by corporate benefactors, and by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles that crammed the tiny aluminum stands at Indian Creek field on Friday evening…and the gleaming new varsity complex behind the old Versailles High School.

Most of the locals know Craig Stammen personally, a local hero that brings pride and motivation to the next generation of would-be big leaguers in Versailles this weekend.

“Yeah, I’ve met him at his baseball camp,”  said Adam Kremer.  “He’s a neat guy and he really knows a lot about baseball.”

Fort Loramie's Darren Hoying fire a strike against a team from Troy in Friday's other 14 age group game.

Fort Loramie’s Darren Hoying fires a strike against a team from Troy in Friday’s other 14 age group game.

But Kremer, who flashed both leather and a hot aluminum bat in his team’s win over Minster, was there for something more relevant than just name-dropping and pride in the local icon.  He took great satisfaction in winning, too.

“It’s a lot of fun because teams like Minster are going to be our competition for the next four years,”  said Kremer, who’ll be a freshman come fall.  “Hopefully we’ll beat ’em when we get older, too.  Winning this tournament would mean a lot because to me, and the rest of us, because we all look up to him (Stammen). He’s in the majors and he came from our school.  He works with all of us at his camps and he acts like a regular guy from Versailles.”

It’s double elimination, of course, so everyone’s guaranteed at least two games this weekend, resuming at 10 am on Saturday morning, the start of a long, long day of baseball.

In Milwaukee Friday night Craig Stammen pitched an inning and a third of scoreless baseball, satisfying, not doubt, but no better than what Adam Kremer felt for his three hits and winning start with what he hopes is a championship weekend.  A win over Minster is every bit as good as a win over the Brewers.  That’s the way it is…it doesn’t matter who you play.

When boys play baseball!

Following in Stammen's steps, a Versailles pitcher works in Friday's win over Minster.

Following in Stammen’s steps, a Versailles pitcher works in Friday’s win over Minster.

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