HYDE PARK – Withrow High School baseball supporters may be shocked to know the school has competed in the Ohio State tournament seven times, more than many of the schools in the area. You actually own three state titles but haven’t won in 68 years.
The 1950 roster consisted of three players who later became college captains. Chuck Duquette played for Miami University, Dick Ernst for Ohio State and Ike Misali played at the University of Cincinnati.
This trio helped the Tigers to the Class A baseball crown in the spring of 1950. The soccer team was league champions in the fall of 1949, and the track team was also city champions that year. Ernst left school in Hyde Park with 12 letters from university.
“I did four in baseball and three in basketball and soccer,” said Ernst. “For the past two years the coach has persuaded me to run. I qualified for the 220 (yards) in the state finals, but I couldn’t run because we were playing baseball up there (in Columbus).”
State champions, but not champions of the Public High School League
Withrow failed to win the league title thanks to a few losses to Walnut Hills this season, but gained momentum in the tournament, finishing the tournament 19-4 with the State Cup (for comparison purposes, that’s fewer games than the 27 that OHSAA had previously allowed tournament play to enter ).
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Withrow’s tournament victories came against Western Hills and Purcell, which brought them to Hughes in the district finals.
“Western Hills had a couple who played in major leagues with Don Zimmer and Jim Frey,” said Ernst. “Don Zimmer and I were good friends. I was a catcher and I could never figure out what to throw at him that he couldn’t hit!”
Withrow graces the field in Findlay and Western
A 7-6 win over Hughes Big Red brought Withrow over Dayton Fairview at Crosley Field in the region. Roy “Socky” Hughes scored three goals in an 11-2 shellacking, putting the Tigers against Elder.
“It was the first or second field of play where ‘Socky’ Hughes almost hit the ball over the fence in left field,” said Ernst. “As I remember, Crosley Field was about 320 (down the line) with a high fence. There was a laundry across the street. In those days people beat them on the roof of the laundry.”
Hal Broerman defensively ruled out the Panthers 4-Zip to send coach John Hugheey to the semi-finals. Broerman was the only non-senior starter.
To the semi-finals in the state of Ohio
Chuck Duquette held Youngstown East in a 9-3 win in the Columbus semifinals with five hits, while Galion was unbeaten 6-5 against Akron Garfield.
Galion started with a 2-0 lead from Hal Broerman in the title game, but the Tigers came back and took the lead. Ike Misali had a homer and a pair of doubles, which Galion tied in the seventh game. Withrow would continue on Jim Kumpf’s goal in the ninth, but Galion loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth. Finally, Ernst caught a lazy fly in order to kill it.
Joe Minster of the Cincinnati Times star covered the event as well as Amelia High School’s B-class title win against Middleport 1-0 in Ohio on May 27, 1950. In its opening sentence, the supremacy in high school baseball was in Mentioned Southwest Ohio.
“We celebrated in the auditorium on Monday,” recalls Ernst. “We came home on Sunday. We were recognized and shown the trophy. We didn’t go to a big party or the way they sometimes do today. Cincinnati used to be the cream of the crop in baseball in Ohio.”
After the championship withrow baseball
Withrow had made the state tournament since the 1950 Tigers in 1982 but had not been back in 36 years. Their last winning season was in 2014 at the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference. They have been 7-72 years old since attending the Eastern Cincinnati Conference. Withrow’s baseball complex namesake Ron Oester is probably the most notable tiger to do well on the diamond with his career (1978-1990) with the Reds, where he was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.
“Ike Misali and I were there for the dedication,” said Ernst. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful field, but when you notice the box scores they get ruled quite a lot. It’s disappointing to me because I’m still withrow through and through.”
If you want to take a look back at Withrow’s history, Ethan Allen played for the Tigers before joining UC for a 12-year career in the Major League (1926-1938). He later became a baseball coach at Yale, overseeing a young first baseman who later became president, George HW Bush.
Chase the tiger
Two of the 1950s Tigers have since passed away (Henry Boston and Chuck Duquette), along with Coach Hugheey. Boston’s sons DJ and Darryl visited Woodward and played professional baseball. His sons buried a big racket with him when he passed.
“He played all the games on the outfield and hit like crazy,” said Ernst. “He could have gone out and played and done very well. He was our clean-up artist.”
Dick Ernst attended Ohio State for soccer and played for the first Buckeye team coached by Woody Hayes. He was a teammate of Heisman winners Vic Janowicz and Howard “Hopalong” Cassidy and led the OSU baseball team. Had Sid Gillman allowed him to play baseball, Withrow’s backcourt “Flying Dutchman” might have joined fellow Tiger and “galloping Greek” Harry Andreadis on the UC grid.
Jim Kumpf, who kicked off the title game, visited Mississippi State for soccer and is a retired Air Force Colonel. Ike Misali later captained the UC baseball team and lives in Indian Hill. Also living are Roy “Socky” Hughes of Mount Lookout, top hitter Don Miller of Pleasant Ridge, Al McMillen (Ohio baseball) of New Smyrna, South Carolina, Robert “Sonny” Beck of Dry Ridge, Kentucky, and Hal Broerman.
Many in the group still come together. Ernst and Ike Misali occasionally take part in UC baseball games. Misali was playing when a young Ed Jucker basketball player mentioned he pitched in high school. After a flaming test, Sandy Koufax became a baseball bear-cat despite Misali saying he couldn’t see the ball in the dark gym.
Some, like Ernst, play softball on Wednesday mornings in Blue Ash aged 70 and over. At 86 years old, Ernst is on the older end of the competition but is still taking his hacks. Withrow’s former teammate Don Miller trains the young at heart.
“The younger guys dominate the league,” said Ernst. “People like me fill out and try to get some base hits. When you get to be my age when you try to uncork it, you hit a lazy fly ball. Sometimes you don’t even get it through the shortstop.”
The competition fire still burns as it did 68 years ago when the final of Withrow’s last baseball title landed safely in his catcher’s glove.