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RAY SWANSON | Keystoner Two ex-stars relive storied past



Published: Sun, July 21, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Even Mercer County residents have a tough time trying to explain just where Fredonia is located. They know it's in Mercer County, but pinpointing it is something else.

Those in the know, however, are quick to point out that Fredonia is a very pleasant community, full of friendly people and one with a storied athletic past.

Going back a few years, there were the Douds boys, Rich and Beanie Craig and the Rodemoyers, namely Howard and Russ. Their basketball was tremendous and their baseball was even greater.

For a small school, their sports ambitions were big and they performed like the champions they were. One could compare Fredonia with the famed movie classic "Hoosiers," based on a small school that went all the way to the state basketball championship in Indiana.

Reunion

Reliving those days recently were Rich Craig, Mercer, and Howard Rodemoyer, who now lives in Atlanta.

Howard was home (Fredonia) for a short visit and to attend the family reunion. In late May, he had a very serious operation when a tumor was discovered in his lower bowel. He is recuperating now and even was back on the golf course. He shoots in the lower 40s.

Rodemoyer was a tremendous pitcher for the Vocats, and Craig was his battery mate behind the plate. The two were inseparable, and Rich, a few years later, was the best man at Howard's wedding.

Howard, 1982 inductee into the Mercer County Hall of Fame, signed with the Cleveland chain and played for Mobile in the Southern Association. In 1956-57, he was with Indianapolis, and his team was outstanding.

His club features such major league greats as Rocky Colavito in left field, Roger Maris in right, Russ Nixon catching and Herb Score on the mound. That team went on to win the Little World Series, sweeping Rochester four straight games in the series.

And Howard, the kid from Fredonia, was a pitching phenom. His team that season posted a 22-2 record.

At Fredonia High School, Rich and Howard both played baseball and basketball together. Howard graduated in 1948 and Rich in 1947.

Four players signed

Craig points out that four players from the school were signed to minor league teams, including Russ and Howard Rodemoyer, Ralph Boger and John Reimold. Howard will turn 73 in January.

Craig also said that Howard and Sharpsville's great left-handed pitcher, Jabby Ellison, were signed by Cleveland in the late '40s or early '50s.

Craig made note, too, that there were nine boys and five girls in the Rodemoyer family. "The boys were all great athletes, too." said Craig.

Rich and Howard spent three days together at area golf courses, touring Birchwood, Conneaut Lake and Pleasant Acres. They had a lot of talking to do, making up for lost time.

Miller hired

Katie Miller, a former graduate assistant basketball coach at Tiffin University, has been named as a full-time assistant coach for the sports of women's basketball and softball at Westminster College.

She is expected to assume her coaching duties in August.

Prior to coaching at Tiffin, she served as an athletic department intern at Bowling Green State University (200-01), and a sports management intern for the Women's Sports Foundation (1998).

A 1998 graduate of Mount Union College, Alliance, Ohio, with a degree in sports management, Miller was a four-year member of the Purple Raiders women's basketball team.

She served as team captain her senior year and twice led Mount Union to the NCAA Division III National Tourney, with the Purple Raiders finishing second in 1996 and third in 1998. She went on to complete her master of education degree at Bowling Green State in 2002.




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