Category Archives: Wildcat Baseball

John Grantham, Wildcat Magnate Passes

I’m a little slow in getting to this – and the public calling has passed – but I would be remiss to not post. John S. Grantham Sr. who served as president of the Wildcat Baseball League for 42 years until 2007, has passed away. He was 74 years old.

Grantham was instrumental in getting Sports Illustrated to publish an article on the league and NBC Nightly News to feature the organization on its broadcast, Derbyshire said.

“He was always promoting Wildcat baseball, its value, its worth to the community, to the kids, to the parents,” Derbyshire said.

Grantham also taught at Kekionga Middle School for four years and at Jefferson Middle School for 13 years. He retired in 1991 after being at North Side High School for 11 years, where he served as an administrator, counselor and assistant athletic director.

Grantham was bestowed a number of awards, including the Summit Athletic Conference Coaches Award; the Charles W. Wilt Sr. Memorial Award; the Hilliard Gates Lifetime Achievement Award; and Indiana’s highest civilian award, the Sagamore of the Wabash.

Former Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke honored Grantham’s commitment to the youth of Fort Wayne and he was inducted into the Fort Wayne Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998 and into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.

Memorials may be made to the Allen County SPCA. or SCAN.

This Week on Talkin’ Sports

Tune in Saturday morning at 9:00, as we’ll be talking Wildcat Baseball with league President Bill Derbyshire.  Wildcat begins its 49th season in Fort Wayne in 2009 with big plans for the 50th anniversary in 2010.  Did you play? If so, let us know where and when.

We’ll continue our weekly segment with TinCaps President Mike Nutter as the TinCaps are home Saturday and Sunday at Parkview Field.

We’ll name our PSI/One Eleven Design Athlete of the Week in the 4th Quarter of the show.
Nominations for the PSI/One Eleven Design Athlete of the Week can be submitted to this e-mail address or: wkjg1380@yahoo.com.

Tune in Saturday mornings at 9 for Talkin’ Sports on WKJG-ESPN Radio 1380. Phone lines are always open at 260-447-8500.

Talkin’ Sports is brought to you each week by: INdigital Telecom, Perfection Bakeries/Aunt Millie’s, Wise Insurance, PSI/One Eleven Design and Kraft Foods.

Talkin’ Sports. Local Guests. Local Topics. Local Opinion

Youth Baseball Thrives in Northeast Indiana

Think that Indiana doesn’t complete with the rest of the nation on the ball diamond? Perhaps you should reconsider those thoughts.

Take for example, the St. Joe’s Little League. Five of the league’s baseball teams recently won Little League District 10 championships in leagues that range from 11 to 15 teams from Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana area. Three of those squads have already advanced through far enough state tournament berths.

“We’ve got a talented group of kids,” [league vice president, Greg] Hadden said. “My 12-year-olds alone, 10 of them have been playing together since they were 9- and 10-year-olds. That’s where you start” [source: The News-Sentinel].

But in addition to the state achievements like this, there are individual standouts who are preparing to play on the national stage with the Hamilton County-based Indiana Prospects Baseball Organization.

The organization seeks to help players with their total development by providing training, knowledge and the highest level of competition possible. This year’s U16 Blue roster included Garrett High School’s Spencer Burns and Carroll High School’s Curtis Wise. The U13 roster included Montpelier (Blackford) Middle School’s Ryan Spaulding, whose team qualified for the USSSA Elite 24 national championship at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Baseball Complex in Orlando, Fla. from Aug. 3-10.

“When we went into this, we were not on anybody’s radar; teams from Indiana don’t get a lot of hype compared to Texas, Florida and Alabama,” said Shane Stout, the coach of the U13 team, as the organization had only one team reach this level previously. “You’ve got to pinch yourself to realize what has happened” [source: IndyStar].

And as local players go on to excel in Little League or High School, look also to the tremendous number of local standouts who are excelling at the college level. Several others are playing in Minor League Baseball and even at the Major League Level. These homegrown players have learned to play the game the right way through solid leagues; like the St. Joes Little League, like Wallen Baseball, like Wildcat Baseball.

It’s the coaches and parents who volunteer their time and experience to serve as teachers and mentors. Folks like, Gary Rogers, who has served the sport over two decades at Bishop Luers. His record there is a 352-302 (that’s over 600 games folks), he’s worked with Wildcat Baseball and within the SAC and the state’s coaches’ associations. He coached Luers to its first state championship with a 14-8 win over Elwood this past June, and then served as head coach of the North All-Stars in the three-game series against at Notre Dame’s Eck Stadium.

Along the way, there are a number of lives he’s touched and kids he’s developed. The same is true for the many other coaches at local high schools, middle schools and on the Little League diamonds. It’s that being the case, it’s no wonder so many of our stars are excelling on and off the field.

You say baseball is all about ballparks, money, commercialism and merchandising? I say your watching the wrong game. Look to the smaller fields with the smaller stars. You see big time talent and big time hearts of those who help build their character.

Yes, the spirit of the game is alive and well in Fort Wayne and all of Northeast Indiana.

Wildcat Baseball Memories

Dennis Nartker of the The News-Sun recently reflected on his memories of playing Wildcat Baseball and its mid-1960’s introduction to the Kendallville area by North Side Elementary School physical education teacher Chris Stavreti, who had become East Noble High School’s varsity baseball coach.

As a Wildcatter I can recall the high school-age instructors teaching the fundamentals with demonstrations and drills every morning during the summer season for one to two hours at a time. Repetition and proper technique was the norm — throwing a baseball around the infield and from the outfield, catching grounders, line-drives and flyballs, hitting, bunting, pitching and running the bases.

Unlike the youth leagues today, where teams only practice one or two hours at a time twice a week, and often don’t practice when league games begin, the Wildcat philosophy was practice makes perfect, fundamentals taught throughout the season.

A great read. Check it out.