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Just sayin’: Talking with the newest inductees into the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.

Guest speaker Randy Marsh, Covington’s contribution to the world of Major League baseball umpiring, had just the right tone in his talk at Wednesday’s January induction for the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.

“They brought me on to the Board (of the NKSHOF) and told me they wanted to get younger,” Randy said with a grin, “I’m 74.”

But Randy was right. He does make us (since for purposes of transparency, I’m also a member of the NKSHOF Board) younger. Lots of interesting insight from Randy into what a number of rules changes in baseball are about to bring this spring for both umpires and fans who will be trying to keep up with them. Pay attention, there are a bunch of them, many with the enforcement mechanism still to be worked out.

As for making us younger, that’s probably the nature of the beast. Halls of Fame tend to attract the folks who have been around, have known many of the people and seen many of the inductees they’re set up to honor.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not able to keep up with the demands of social media, which in this case means having a Web expert like Buddy Dittus put together a brand new NKSHOF web site, which is happening now as we type.

The correct address is nkyshof.org and by going there, you will soon be able to fill out a nomination form for a person you think worthy of consideration for induction, or for a scholarship application for a high school senior, or for alphabetical listings of the more than 1,000 members or news on the newest inductees with photos of the latest activities.

HOF induction:Jim Wihebrink, Mike Creutzinger, Mike Lewis, Greg Menetrey, VP Ken Shields Seconf Row L-R guest speaker Randy Marsh, Pres. Joe Brennan, and board members Terry Keller, Sonny Sullivan (Photo by Andy Furman/NKyTribune)

Which gets us to the latest from Wednesday’s five Hall of Fame inductees.

• Ludlow’s multi-sport star Mike Lewis, who went on to star at Georgetown as a record-breaking quarterback, told the other inductees that as a non-public speaker going first, “I’m setting the bar low for you.” But he set a high bar in crediting his former three-time-state champion wife and basketball-swimmer fourth-grade daughter as being the athletes in the family: “Sports are very important, not only in Ludlow but in our household.”

• For more than 50 years as a coach, umpire and official, Boone County’s Sonny Sullivan did some truth-telling in what it was like to build a Knothole baseball power: “Nobody in Northern Kentucky wanted to play us.” Or officiating when he got to calling basketball games for over-65 men: “I ended up calling more technical fouls than regular fouls.” Or what a special joy it’s been to drive a school bus for special needs students. Or his motivation for doing so much sports for so long a time: “I like to have a good time.”

• The description for Campbell County High star Greg Menetrey was “speed, speed, speed,” so much so that one of his records in Alexandria still at the top of the record books is his amazing 14.7-yards-per-carry in football. While thanking his family, including two sons who went on to play college football, something he passed on to start a family, Greg did admit that “if I got through the line, I wasn’t going to get caught.”

• Ludlow’s Mike Creutzinger thanked his parents for “getting me started on a lifetime of integrity” and it was definitely a family affair since his father and three uncles were all Ludlow Sports Hall of Famers. After a 42-year career coaching in Ohio mostly and with his son in Tennessee, he thanked his own coaches like Bob Jones and Dan Sullivan and concluded that “while we didn’t have championship teams, we had teams of championship caliber.”

• Covington guy Jim Wihebrink played football at Cincinnati St. Xavier, then after EKU, embarked on a peripatetic coaching career at Dayton, Cincinnati Purcell, Dixie Heights, Lima Catholic and Forest Park before settling down for 20 years at Boone County. He credited NKSHOF VP and emcee Kenney Shields, when he was head of the summer parks in Covington during their college days, with inspiring him with a simple “Jim, don’t give up,” in a baseball game where they were down four runs with one at-bat left and they rallied to tie it and win in extra innings. “I kept that with me my whole life,” Jim says. As for his three sons, “They all ran track for me at Boone County,” he says, “they didn’t have much choice.”

And finally, some news about Coach Shields. His wife, Marie, is recovering and able to walk with aid after fracturing several vertebrae in her neck requiring seriously complex surgery at UC’s University Hospital. But she was well enough to be able to vacate her ICU room just in time last week for a certain famous NFL football player who was admitted to the UC Medical Center.

Little known facts about Coach Shields. He’s been inducted into 12 halls of fame and while his 460 Northern Kentucky high school basketball win total is about to be equaled and eclipsed by St. Henry’s Dave Faust, who has 458, if you add Kenney’s 306 NKU wins, that’s 766 basketball wins in Northern Kentucky, a number that will not be equaled anytime soon by anybody.

Dan Weber is a sports columnist/reporter for the Northern Kentucky Tribune. Contact him at dweber3440@aol.com.

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