Each week we’ll take a step back into the history of Great Bend through the eyes of reporters past. We’ll reacquaint you with what went into creating the Great Bend of today, and do our best to update you on what “the rest of the story” turned out to be.
There’s no denying, baseball and summer go together. Whether you play or cheer from the stands, there’s just something about gathering as a community at the ballpark to play one’s part in something simultaneously familiar and unique, which each game ultimately turns out to be. All together experience the elements in their own way, as well as the excitement and frustration as the game plays out. Will it be a hit or a strike? A foul? Will it be a home run, or out on first? Will a base be stolen?
This week in 1989, the 60th All Star Baseball game was played in Anaheim, Calif. Not only was it a notable game, with Kansas City Royals’ Bo Jackson being named MVP in the American League’s 5-3 win over the National League, it was unique in its own right because Ronald “Dutch” Reagan, was there as a sportscaster for the game.
According to the Associated Press report that appeared in the July 12, 1989 edition of the Great Bend Tribune, “Ronald Reagan drove in with his entourage, put on the headsets, checked out the microphone and went back to what he does best -- talking to America.” He provided color commentary during the first inning of the game.
It wasn’t a new thing for the former president, according to the report. In the 1930’s, he recreated Chicago Cubs games from Western Union teletype reports on station WHO. He visited the clubhouse before the game, talking to players, his secret service detail clearing and sealing corridors along the way.
“From San Diego street gangs to old movies to the Dominican Republic, he had something to say, just like every other baseball announcer,” the report stated. “I’ve been out of work for six months,” Reagan said. “Maybe there’s a future here.”
In the accompanying report, “Bo hefts Americans to victory,” Jackson drove in two runs, one with a 448-foot homer, steal a base and made a nifty running catch. National League manager Tommy Lasorda called him exciting and awesome. Here’s how pitcher Rick Reuschel described the homer:
“I rarely turn and watch a home run. There was only one other time -- and that was in spring training -- when I watched because I was so sure it was going out.”
Then, Wade Boggs homered and it was the first time in All-Star history that a team led off with consecutive homers and only the fourth time overall, the report stated.
According to Bo Jackson’s wiki, “He is the only professional athlete in history to be named an All-Star in both baseball and football, and one of few to do so in two major sports. Jackson’s elite talent in multiple sports has given him the reputation as one of the greatest athletes of all time.”
Yes, in 1990, he would go on to play in the NFL’s Pro Bowl. Today, he is a philanthropist and in 2011 raised funds with a bike tour of Alabama to help those affected by the 2011 tornadoes there.
Locally, sports wins worth celebrating
Baseball has its roots in local play, of course. And this week the Golden Belt Babe Ruth league held a tournament. Larned’s Merchants finished their season 13-0, taking home trophies and the pride that comes with an amazing season-long streak.
Tribune Assistant Sports Editor Mike Gilmore reported, “It was a night of firsts, and anniversaries. After it was over, the gray-clad Merchants, trophies in hand, jumped in the air and chorused: “We did it!” Finally.”
It was the teams third visit to the tournament, and it’s first win there.
“This time, 15-year-old lefty Chad Erway worked the charm for the Merchants, pitching Larned to a 10-4 win over VFW. The win capped a 12-game string for the Merchants, only the third time in the Golden Belt League’s 12-year history that a Babe Ruth team went undefeated through the season.”
In 2016, Erway, then head baseball coach for Larned High School, was named 3A Baseball Coach of the Year. Chad Erway today is listed as the P.E./Weights & Conditioning Teacher at Larned Middle School. Photographer Janet Fleske, Larned, captured photos of Erway and his team at the July 31, 2016 homecoming following their Legion Championship that year.
Another Larned win at Great Bend that week was Harlie Carr, who took first place in the top division during competition at the Great Bend Raceway. In his 1964 Nova, he “dialed in time of 13.34 seconds. And an a lapsed time of 13.39 (99 miles per hour). We took a peek and found Carr’s passion for cars lives on.
This week, we also found a very cool photo of the 1989 Great Bend High School cheerleaders who attended camp at Bethany College, where they won awards for outstanding cheering skills and more. Check out our photo and see the many familiar faces there!