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Mike Tussey: The Champions, Part II; powerful stuff — Kentucky Style

Two weeks ago this column focused on the definition of Champions. What made them tick, what was the driving force that compelled them to win?

From 1982-1991, a Decade of Excellence, I was privileged to have been the Manager of many men who comprised 10 elite Baseball teams of ASHLAND STAN MUSIAL BASEBALL from Ashland, Kentucky. During the magical decade, these very focused and proud men logged 208 wins with only 79 losses.

Pitcher Mark Wallace (Photo provided)

Their winning ways yielded 6 league titles, 4 invitational tournament championships, the 1988 AABC Kentucky State Championship, and the 1990 West Virginia AABC State Tournament.

Many today have no earthly ideas as to what STAN MUSIAL BASEBALL is or was 40 years ago. In fact, there are people today that have absolutely no clue as to the identity of Stan Musial.

These men over that decade weren’t kids, they were young college age men who loved and competed in the game they loved so much. Compete they did. They competed versus the fine teams of Lexington, Louisville, Huntington, Atlanta, Miami, and Nashville. Some of these teams even listed on their rosters retired Major League players.

Proudly over the seasons, Ashland would have two players drafted, 3rd Baseman STEVE ROLEN to the Giants and catcher DAVE WHEELER to the Reds.

Coach Dwight McKenzie (Photo provided)

Eight months ago, I decided to have a “Homecoming Reunion” for these fine athletes and gentlemen. So, planning began in January. Our destination would be a trip back home to Ashland where our historic home field, CP-1 was the site of incredible wins and memories.

Our Homecoming reunion was set for Ashland’s Tomcat Bourbon and Brew House just a few days ago, Saturday, August 26. The Champions and 14 Hall of Famers were contacted over the months and were invited to gather again, just one more time. These elite athletes and their families came home. The Grand Reunion began at 4 p.m. with laughter, hand shaking, slaps on the back, hugs and tons of photos. At 7 p.m., Ashland’s Legendary Broadcaster Charlie Dunlap began our very special program that would salute and remember the accomplishments of 10 teams and 14 Hall of Famers that wore the historic ASHLAND jersey.

Two fine Ashland Coaches returned home as well, Coach Dwight McKenzie from Texas and Hall of Fame Coach George Brumfield from Ohio.

Ashland pitcher Mark Wallace who logged a 7-0 season while leading Ashland to a fine 54-16 record in his 3 seasons, shared some very profound and moving thoughts: “I just want to say “Thank You” as one of the many players who so very much enjoyed the Homecoming of Ashland Stan Musial Baseball last Saturday.

Coach George Brumfield (Photo provided)

“During our reunion, I had several conversations with my teammates as we reminisced of our summer days while playing baseball and how we expressed our passion for living and loving the game. Having played at the University of Kentucky and Marshall, I came to realize that playing for Ashland Stan Musial; the talent we had was equal to any of the teams I played against on the college level.

“Those Post 76 American Legion and Ashland Stan Musial years were some of the happiest of my life. However, the years pass by quickly and legs grow slower, and arms get tired after thousands of pitches. My memories of the camaraderie and friendships were rekindled last weekend as we gathered again and celebrated together for one final time.

“Two of my lifetime friends are teammates Danny Feltrop and Mark Moore. Even though we all went to different high schools; but our lifelong friendship began again as we played together for Ashland Stan Musial in Central Park. Saturday, my conversations with teammates, Rick Lambert, Jon Hart, Cabot Keesey, Dave Wheeler and Paul Phelps were so enjoyable.

“I told my wife as we said our goodbyes Saturday, I may have shook hands with Coach Tussey for the last time. That briefly brought some sadness, but then I remembered that as believers in Jesus Christ, we will get to spend eternity together.

Ashland’s Decade of Excellence exhibits with 1982’s Gene Osborne. (Photo by Mike Tussey)

“I have a great feeling there will be a CP-1 Baseball Field up there, we all will be young again and my left arm will once again be lively.

“Then, Coach Tussey will ask me if I am ready to take the mound.

“Coach Dwight Mckenzie’s experience and knowledge of the game was 2nd to none and his addition to our Ashland coach staff was a key factor in winning so many games.”

When asked about his insights to our success and the experience of it all, Dwight commented:

“One can always recognize individuals with certain qualities and our Ashland Stan Musial players displayed so many talents. Having won state championships in two states; six league championships and the Cocoa Beach Expo really tells it all.

“I was honored to be an Ashland Stan Musial coach, surrounded by so many talented players that displayed character and teamwork while challenging and supporting one another to never give up. That’s what makes Champions. We will forget..WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS.

“Joining our Ashland Stan Musial family during the summer of 1988 was Hall of Fame Coach George Brumfield. He brought with him a wealth of knowledge and experience punctuated by many wins and championships as Head Coach at the high school level. Coach Brumfield’s vivid memories are so many as he remembers well those games from that magical summer of 1988. “I had just resigned my job as head football coach at my high school and our son Tracy was picked up by Ashland Stan Musial. The new season rolled on as I attended the games

“Ashland’s Manager Mike Tussey and Coach, Fred McIntyre were unexpectedly unable to attend and the tournament policy required a Manager or Coach to lead the team. I was asked by the players if I would take the role of Manager and given the circumstances I agreed. We won the tournament that summer and for the next four years, I became an official Coach for Ashland Stan Musial. It was such a great pleasure to coach young men who loved and respected the game of Baseball.

“I could see the team meshing into a well oiled machine. We went on to win the 1988 AABC Kentucky State Championship and moved on to the Southeast Regional tournament in Nashville which was really the “Elite Eight”. We didn’t win the tourney, but earned our way into the finals before losing 9-8, but finished a fine 32-7.

“Our appearance in that tourney earned us quite reputation and due respect for our team which in turn, gave us a bonding that lasts even today, 35 years later.

Mike Tussey with Fellow HOFer Steve Rolen and Scott Daniel (Photo provided)

“The summer of 1990 would give birth to another incredible team. However, we had lost a few key veterans, but the new men certainly performed like champions.

“Once again as in 1988, our Manager Mike Tussey and Coach Fred McIntyre were unable to make the trip to West Virginia for the finals and I moved into acting interim Manager once again.
Our men played very well and for the 2nd time in 3 seasons, Ashland Stan Musial would win another AABC State Title.

“We moved onto the AABC Mideast Regional Tournament in Dayton, Ohio and although we didn’t win it all, we did win lifelong friendships and memories that I will always cherish. Manager Mike Tussey helped me with my coaching career and gave me the chance to work with very talented and dedicated college players. I went on to coach at the college level, managed a professional team and in 2024, it will mark my 48th year coaching the sport that I love, Baseball. Thanks Mike for the memories of a life time.”

So, on a beautiful summer night August 26 back home in Ashland, the curtain came down on Ashland Stan Musial Baseball. The Decade of Excellence that logged 208 wins and only 79 losses from 1982-1991 with NEVER a losing season, ended amid hugs and handshakes after 41 years. We certainly felt the “THRILL OF VICTORY” 208 times.

From where I see it today, there are two words that describe these fine men who proudly wore the ASHLAND jersey that will live through the years to come.

Indeed we were…. POWERFUL STUFF.

Mike Tussey has “retired” from a 60-plus-year career as a legendary play-by-play announcer for over 2000 football, baseball, and basketball games, including most recently for ESPN+. His career also includes a stint in law enforcement, teaching and coaching, and writing books, including the “Touchdown Saints.” He grew up in Eastern Kentucky and now lives in Florence with his wife, Jo. He has opened another “Door of Opportunity” and is now a regular columnist for the NKyTribune.

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