Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.

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If we’re so enduring about doing what’s best for kids, communities, their character, our character, and the culture, I have to believe that what you “hear” can hurt you.  At the very least…embarrass!

Notes from a beautiful spring week, the first if you wait all winter to count such things, on what’s been observed over the first month of the spring sports season – things that paint the picture of just how much the tail wags the dog.

For purists, I don’t know when, or where, we’ve lost the classic look of baseball uniforms.  It’s always been traditional that you wear white at home, and gray on the road.  In high school, where budgets often prohibit two sets of “unies”, white or gray pants, and a complimenting top…white, gray, or the dominant school color.  Troy, for instance, often wears red jerseys.  Loramie has a black jersey.  Ft. Recovery wears purple and Coldwater has something in orange.  I’m fine with it.

But I also saw last week a team come out in charcoal dark gray pants AND shirts, with dark numbers in a font that made it almost impossible to read.  Frankly, it looked like beer league softball.  Awful.  And of course, the modern look of ironing the bills of hat to where they’re flat.  I don’t get that either.

Uniforms have become a mess, right down to the popular college look of wearing camo.  I don’t get that either, especially after one high school coach recently told me that he had players that would only play this spring if they wore something that was more alternative.

I heard a retired hall of fame coach say a couple of years ago, on the topic of uniforms and how you wear them:  “If you can’t make a baseball statement, don’t try to disguise it by making a fashion statement.”  Well said.

My own high school coach, Jim Hardman, used to say…the tail DOES NOT wag the dog!

And if you haven’t paid attention to the music being played before games….you might.

In fact, if you’re one of those concerned about the impact of culture on the minds of kids, take some time to investigate the content of some of the popular “rap” music being piped in at ear-splitting decibels.

I’m at a college game in Maryland last week, and I’m not a prude, but what the kids like these days is far from what one used to think of in terms of relaxing ballpark music.  IT’S A LONG WAY FROM WHAT NANCY FAUST USED TO PLAY ON THE LOWERY ORGAN AT COMISKEY PARK!

Uh, it’s not good…content about drugs, and guns, and prostitution, and busting cops in the head so they feel the pain.  Of course, it’s enunciated so poorly the average person can’t understand it anyway, but if it were sung in the King’s English you’d be calling the board of education…RIGHT NOW!

Again, coaches tell me that the players take a vote on the music played before the game during batting practice, and on some tune that’s played as they walk up to bat.  But from some of the at bats I’ve seen this spring I wouldn’t be strutting to rappers…more like the theme song for Captain Kangaroo.

Randy Baker has won 300 games at Arcanum because he makes the sport, and his players, a priority.

Randy Baker has won 300 games at Arcanum because he makes the sport, and his players, a priority.

Finally, under the column of things that absolutely DO matter, Arcanum baseball coach Randy Baker won his 300th career game last week at the Darke County school, and I’ll take a moment to put that into perspective.

It’s true that many have won more.  But to win 300 at a school the size of Arcanum is remarkable, considering that on an average year you may only have 20 boys go out for the sport.  There have have been years when there weren’t enough for a JV team.  And in an age where it’s increasingly more important to have a job and earn money than it is to play any sport…to fund your car and your cell phone…well, why should baseball be a priority?

The answer, of course is, that Randy Baker has made it a priority for every one of his 21 years as coach and for the hundreds of boys that have played.  The man is obsessive about being there, about teaching the sport, taking care of the field, and following through with them after they graduate.  Ask him about one from a decade ago and he can give you a full rundown.

There’s nothing lavish about Arcanum baseball.  They throw strikes and catch the ball on defense;  they do what they can on offense.  Some years they thump the ball…some years they bunt the ball.  But they always put the pressure on the other team to beat them, and that’s how it should be.

When I saw them play Newton last week they even had the right color pants to go with their White Sox circa 1976 uniform tops.  Well done, Randy…and with our sincerest congratulations on a terrific milestone!

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