Will we ever again see a city school win a state title???

scbuckeye99

Active member
Last summer I read a book called Tigerland about the 1969 Columbus East Basketball and Baseball teams. Both teams won state titles that winter and spring. After reading the book it got me wondering will we ever see a school from the city leagues of Cleveland, Toledo, Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Youngstown win a state title in baseball again?

In the 1940s city league schools won 6 state titles, 2 in the 1950s, 3 in the 60s, 2 in the 70s, 1 in the 80s, 1 in the 90s and 1 in the 00's.

The last "urban, inner city, city league" team to win a state title I believe was Toledo Start back around the turn of the century. 2005 would've been the last time one of these schools played for a state title (Toledo Start again). Prior to Start's run in the 90s and early 00's it was Cincinnati Western Hills carrying the "urban baseball torch" in the 1980s.

Akron Firestone played for a district title in 2019 but that's about as much recent success as I could find for a city team as of late.
 

SMARTY22

Well-known member
Guess never say never on a City League School winning state in Baseball again, but I think it’s highly unlikely that one actually ever will!
 

Yappi

Go Buckeyes
I think it is possible. It will take a group effort and a school that embraces the sport. Much like Glenville for football, you get one school that becomes the destination school for baseball in the city and they could be competitive. I think you would also need an outside the box coach that realizes they cannot play a regular city league schedule to prepare for the playoffs.
 

dhsdog06

Active member
Those Start teams of the mid to late 90s were tough. Defiance was still D1 back then and they were always a threat and usually beat us.

I wouldn't say never, but it certainly doesn't look promising.
 

scbuckeye99

Active member
I think it is possible. It will take a group effort and a school that embraces the sport. Much like Glenville for football, you get one school that becomes the destination school for baseball in the city and they could be competitive. I think you would also need an outside the box coach that realizes they cannot play a regular city league schedule to prepare for the playoffs.
I think this is becoming more and more true regardless of sport for urban / inner city schools. Almost like a magnet school but for that particular sport. The talent in any of those mentioned urban school districts exists in sports but it seems like it has to be centralized at one particular school to see any state level success.
 

thavoice

Well-known member
Those Start teams of the mid to late 90s were tough. Defiance was still D1 back then and they were always a threat and usually beat us.

I wouldn't say never, but it certainly doesn't look promising.
Start had some fantastic teams, no doubt about that. I want to say it started maybe in the eaerly 90s.
We tried to play them in a DH from what I recall. Rained like crazy on Friday so we worked on the field like crazy Friday night. THink we even turned the lights on. We felt that it was going to be playable by noon-1pm that next day.
Then around 3AM I woke to more storms and new it was banged.

Want to say a local team, Celina, knocked Start off in the tournament, maybe at Indian Lake?, when STart was the top ranked team.

I Have not heard much about them since Coach A. retired, but I could be wrong.
 

scbuckeye99

Active member
Start had some fantastic teams, no doubt about that. I want to say it started maybe in the eaerly 90s.
We tried to play them in a DH from what I recall. Rained like crazy on Friday so we worked on the field like crazy Friday night. THink we even turned the lights on. We felt that it was going to be playable by noon-1pm that next day.
Then around 3AM I woke to more storms and new it was banged.

Want to say a local team, Celina, knocked Start off in the tournament, maybe at Indian Lake?, when STart was the top ranked team.

I Have not heard much about them since Coach A. retired, but I could be wrong.
2008 Start lost to Ignatius in the regional finals. Start hasn't made it out of the district since '08.
 

playboi12

Active member
I love how start kept a good squad. It can be done, however the coach will have to be one heck of a salesman in bringing kids into the program, development, and buying in. In addition it will take an administration that CAN get out of its own way and let the coach do what he needs to get in place. Luckily many urban leagues dont have a full set of teams so there is always good chances to bring quality non-league teams on the schedule.
 

thavoice

Well-known member
I love how start kept a good squad. It can be done, however the coach will have to be one heck of a salesman in bringing kids into the program, development, and buying in. In addition it will take an administration that CAN get out of its own way and let the coach do what he needs to get in place. Luckily many urban leagues dont have a full set of teams so there is always good chances to bring quality non-league teams on the schedule.
When you talk about being a salesman and bringing kids into the program are you referring more to getting the kids to go out for baseball, or the good baseball players to come, or stay, to their district?

I feel that this whole youth travel baseball fleecing is going to make it even tougher for some urban places to succeed. Rec departments are wrecked in some area's financially, and in others the kids flee to the glitz and glamour of the travel baseball phenomenon.
 

The Dock

Well-known member
I really don't think so.

It's not so much the matter of being able to put together a good team in the city (there are programs who can and already do), it's a matter of making it past districts and regionals. I don't see any Division I city program being able to make it past the Sweet 16. Division II-IV may be a little more possible, but it would have to be a program where there is centrality to the school: for instance Akron Firestone is a magnet school, not a neighborhood school. Best odds may be at D4. Whitney Young in Cleveland is a possibility. If Columbus Alternative ever fielded sports then I'm sure they'd be a possibility as well.
 

playboi12

Active member
When you talk about being a salesman and bringing kids into the program are you referring more to getting the kids to go out for baseball, or the good baseball players to come, or stay, to their district?

I feel that this whole youth travel baseball fleecing is going to make it even tougher for some urban places to succeed. Rec departments are wrecked in some area's financially, and in others the kids flee to the glitz and glamour of the travel baseball phenomenon.
That sadly is true. I can drone on and on about the ills of travel ball but that is another thread. To answer your original question, it would have to be good players coming that would be the only way. If you can get kids that are currently there to come out, you still will have kids that are well behind where they should be to compete at a high school level. There are some teams where they have players that never played baseball before going out for the team. Baseball is a sport where you need the foundation and reps built over time and you just can't compete, even at a marginal level with those kids. A first year player going out for a team like Mason or Moeller is unheard of.
 

thavoice

Well-known member
That sadly is true. I can drone on and on about the ills of travel ball but that is another thread. To answer your original question, it would have to be good players coming that would be the only way. If you can get kids that are currently there to come out, you still will have kids that are well behind where they should be to compete at a high school level. There are some teams where they have players that never played baseball before going out for the team. Baseball is a sport where you need the foundation and reps built over time and you just can't compete, even at a marginal level with those kids. A first year player going out for a team like Mason or Moeller is unheard of.
Thank you for the reply.
I am a small rural school guy, and how sports work in and around the population centers surprises me often. I can never get over the 'getting talent to come to your school' comments, in all the sports to be quite honest with ya. We are and always have had a program where the kids are born and raised in the district. Even with OE, rarely do kids partake in that and play athletics.

It is a whole different ballgame other places and I can never wrap my head around it.
 

rossford_resident

Active member
How much of that Start program was built in the feeder system? It seems like youth baseball outside the travel/tournament circuit is dying. Oregon doesn't even have their own house leagues now - they used to have two tiers from 9-14 and three or four travel teams that were based out of their complex. I can't see an urban school having enough players to compete at the state level. The kids in the city who play travel are going to end up at private schools.
 

scbuckeye99

Active member
I was talking more about the early to mid 90s.
No worries. Was just putting out there that you were right that its been a minute since Start was as relevant as they use to be. My guess is and I have no idea but Arbinger probably retired around '08??? Stinks someone couldn't keep it going beyond.
 

scbuckeye99

Active member
When you talk about being a salesman and bringing kids into the program are you referring more to getting the kids to go out for baseball, or the good baseball players to come, or stay, to their district?

I feel that this whole youth travel baseball fleecing is going to make it even tougher for some urban places to succeed. Rec departments are wrecked in some area's financially, and in others the kids flee to the glitz and glamour of the travel baseball phenomenon.
I've always wondered how Start during those Arbinger years was able to create kind of a baseball mecca in metro Toledo. Was there a strong little league in the west end?? I know Start had a strong ACME program back in the day.
 

Philly_Cat

Well-known member
I would never say never, but with baseball becoming more and more of an exclusive sport, meaning you need money to access quality training, equipment, and facilities, it becomes increasingly more difficult with each passing year. I will say that programs like what the Reds Academy have established, that offers free training and teams for ALL, but most importantly, the inner city youth, are reasons that the word never shouldn't be used.

As others have stated, even with things like the Reds Academy it's still a huge uphill battle, but I could see it happening with finding lightning in a bottle for a year or a group of years where you find a talented group of kids that have played together through youth, end up at the same school, AND that school happens to have a quality coach and program there waiting for them.
 

thavoice

Well-known member
I've always wondered how Start during those Arbinger years was able to create kind of a baseball mecca in metro Toledo. Was there a strong little league in the west end?? I know Start had a strong ACME program back in the day.
Yes, they had a very strong ACME program that no doubt helped their PROGRAM as a whole.
I saw an epic matchup between Start and a very solid lefty, name escaping at the moment, vs Defiance and Billingsley in the finals in Coldwater one summer.

Some please drop that Start pitcher's name please....
 

Mr. Slippery

Well-known member
Very hard to do in an urban setting. All the $ is in the suburbs, and baseball is evolving into a $ sport with everyone seeking private instruction, high-priced travel teams, and the equipment costs. It's not as pricey as tennis or golf, but economic barriers are emerging.
 

rossford_resident

Active member
I would never say never, but with baseball becoming more and more of an exclusive sport, meaning you need money to access quality training, equipment, and facilities, it becomes increasingly more difficult with each passing year. I will say that programs like what the Reds Academy have established, that offers free training and teams for ALL, but most importantly, the inner city youth, are reasons that the word never shouldn't be used.

As others have stated, even with things like the Reds Academy it's still a huge uphill battle, but I could see it happening with finding lightning in a bottle for a year or a group of years where you find a talented group of kids that have played together through youth, end up at the same school, AND that school happens to have a quality coach and program there waiting for them.
Saw an 18U team from Southfield, MI make it to the finals of one of the tournaments we hosted over the summer. Southfield is a suburb of Detroit, but one of the ring suburbs as opposed to a high dollar place like Clarkston or Novi. They were very solid. Michigan has school of choice, so some of those kids undoubtedly would matriculate to high dollar suburban schools. I doubt they'd all go to Cass Tech or Renaissance or one of the DPS magnets: not for baseball.

On a side note, they beat a team from a high dollar Ohio suburb in the semis and one of the "travel dads" nearly got into a physical altercation with the Southfield coaches because he thought the kids "didn't play the game the right way." He stuck around to loudly cheer for the other team in the finals until their parents told him to get lost.
 

dhsdog06

Active member
Yes, they had a very strong ACME program that no doubt helped their PROGRAM as a whole.
I saw an epic matchup between Start and a very solid lefty, name escaping at the moment, vs Defiance and Billingsley in the finals in Coldwater one summer.

Some please drop that Start pitcher's name please....
Justin Laraway maybe? He ended up at Kent State.
 
Yep.
Laraway.
He and Billingsley went toe-to-toe in the finals.
On the final day of the tournament Defiance had to beat Start twice. Billingsley, going into his Jr. Yr. in HS did not play much with the Defiance Acme team. He came that day and beat Start in the first game, but Start with Laraway won a close second game. Two very good pitchers. It was almost and exact repeat of what happened the year before in Archbold when Start beat Defiance in the finals.
 
Start had some fantastic teams, no doubt about that. I want to say it started maybe in the eaerly 90s.
We tried to play them in a DH from what I recall. Rained like crazy on Friday so we worked on the field like crazy Friday night. THink we even turned the lights on. We felt that it was going to be playable by noon-1pm that next day.
Then around 3AM I woke to more storms and new it was banged.

Want to say a local team, Celina, knocked Start off in the tournament, maybe at Indian Lake?, when STart was the top ranked team.

I Have not heard much about them since Coach A. retired, but I could be wrong.
You are right. Celina did beat Start in the Regionals at Indian Lake in 1998. Being from Defiance I remember that year well. Celina beat Defiance in the Sectionals in Lima after Defiance blew an 11 run lead, yes I said 11 runs. It was Coach Insleman's last game at Defiance. Defiance had just run ruled Celina a week earlier in a league game.
 

scbuckeye99

Active member
Very hard to do in an urban setting. All the $ is in the suburbs, and baseball is evolving into a $ sport with everyone seeking private instruction, high-priced travel teams, and the equipment costs. It's not as pricey as tennis or golf, but economic barriers are emerging.
That poses an interesting discussion for another thread but when and subsequently why did that happen do you think? When did baseball of all sports become a "country club sport"??
 

Philly_Cat

Well-known member
That poses an interesting discussion for another thread but when and subsequently why did that happen do you think? When did baseball of all sports become a "country club sport"??
I'd say it was early to mid 00's as travel/select baseball became increasingly popular. By the early 10's that popularity turned into a large imbalance of kids playing select baseball and what had now been labeled as rec baseball. If I was making a guess I'd say the ratio of kids playing travel/select to rec in the 90's to the present went from 1:8 to 8:1, a complete inverse.

The biggest impact of that now inverse relationship isn't necessarily quality, meaning we are producing better baseball players and more of them. The biggest impact has been cost. That huge increase in cost leads to many families being shut out of the sport. Yes, the financially strapped family could instead choose rec, but with everyone leaving rec due to the snowball effect, playing rec in most places is so barren of player and coaching talent that it becomes an almost waste of time for most kids with even a little bit of talent. So they choose a different, more accessible sport.
 

The Dock

Well-known member
That poses an interesting discussion for another thread but when and subsequently why did that happen do you think? When did baseball of all sports become a "country club sport"??
I'll let MS answer for himself (am curious to see his response), but I'll add my .02

Baseball is inherently an expensive sport, to some degree. Player-specific expenses such as cleats, bats and mitts = $, team-specific expenses such as helmets, uniforms and whatever is expended for practice sites = $$$. Absent the shoes, basketball is by comparison a simpler and more affordable sport. You can live in the city and be well-to-do, modest-living or working class (yet willing to sacrifice the rainy day $$$ for baseball equipment) and afford the equipment yourself: but then you need 8-9 more peers at least who can also do the same thing, who live in the same general part of town, who attend the same school as you and for anything formative on the competition side all 9-10 of the kids will need some decent playing experience. Like, I look at the City of Columbus and probably 95% of the kids who fit all those checkboxes are attending the private schools in town (and there's probably not too many of those kids to really go around.) And part of that probably boils down to the simple urban sociology of the previous 35 years: how many double-income, two-adult families with a sense of permanency in their lives really are there anymore in the city leagues? There are definitely SOME, but are there enough in a given area to make the investment (time + money + effort) in building up neighborhood baseball and possibly their schools' program into something more than the obligatory second-sport-in-a-season-per-OHSAA-mandate? Probably not. Plus baseball really isn't the sport that provides much of a pathway to college, whereas basketball has long been impressed as a sport that can help a kid "go on to achieve great things."

RE: "country club sport", baseball probably doesn't deserve to be under that moniker but I'll provide something for you to chew over.

Wikipedia article on Concerted Cultivation said:
Concerted cultivation is a style of parenting. The expression is attributed to Annette Lareau. This parenting style or parenting practice is marked by a parent's attempts to foster their child's talents by incorporating organized activities in their children's lives. This parenting style is commonly exhibited in middle class and upper class American families, and is also characterized by consciously developing language use and ability to interact with social institutions. Many have attributed cultural benefits to this form of child-rearing due to the style's use in higher income families, conversely affecting the social habitus of children raised in such a manner. A child that has been concertedly cultivated will often express greater social prowess in social situations involving formality or structure attributed to their increased experience and engagement in organized clubs, sports, musical groups as well as increased experience with adults and power structure.
Dad comes home from work around 5:30pm. He plays catch in the backyard with his son. Son will be registered in a T-Ball league, then instructional baseball, then little league or a school-based or a CYO or some form of competition. Mom and dad make sure that son has what he needs and if an upgrade in equipment (e.g. a bat, or a new glove) is necessary then they'll provide. Mom and dad will float the money for private instruction, access to a batting cage etc. From the age of 5 to 17, or so, mom and dad have made consistent and conscious investments in the cultivation of son's baseball ability. Multiply that times the number of players on a varsity team that made the cuts, multiply that number by some factor of the school's size (hello, Mason HS). You get some number that absolutely dwarfs whatever is coming out of Cincinnati Hughes.
 

Mr. Slippery

Well-known member
That poses an interesting discussion for another thread but when and subsequently why did that happen do you think? When did baseball of all sports become a "country club sport"??
Honestly, the Dock said it better than I will.

It's a process that has been evolving for years. The baseball landscape is much different now than a generation ago. I look at all the gear the players at my school are toting around in the spring, and I can see it as an immediate barrier to entry for poorer kids. They got their cleats, they got their gloves, some have not 1 but 2 bats, and they have a fancy bag to carry all the stuff in. Lord knows how much they paid for their sunglasses that look really good resting atop their baseball caps. Again, it's not on the level of financial outlay that golf or tennis is, but it's not like running where all you really need is a pair of shoes or basketball where all you really need is a ball and a pair of shoes.

Organization is not cheap. As baseball has become more organized, it has become more costly. Why is the organization deemed necessary? As population becomes more transient, people don't know their neighbors. If you don't know your neighbors, it's harder to round up enough kids to play ball. Organization is needed to bring the ballplayers together.

Also, where are you going to play in the inner city? Ballfields and old-fashioned greenspace in the inner-city has been disappearing for years, and a portion of the existing ones are poorly maintained or simply too dangerous to play on (broken glass everywhere). One vacant lot I played on as a kid was turned into a block of houses. Another where I played "home run derby" is now a parking lot. Different sport, but I think back to Tim Duncan. He was reportedly an excellent swimmer but had his swimming career come to a screeching halt after Hurricane Hugo destroyed the only pool available to him back in '89. Gotta have a place to do it.

Lastly, as the Dock stated, baseball isn't viewed as "a way out" for inner-city youth like it is in Latin America, or like soccer is in West Africa or running is in East Africa, or like cycling is in Europe (which is ironic because cycling is an expensive hobby in this country). In this country, basketball and to a lesser extent, football and track & field are the "way out" - the way to get to college, the way to maybe land a pro contract, etc.
 

SMARTY22

Well-known member
First thing an inner city school/Coach will have to do is get more inner city kids playing Baseball! Number of inner city kids playing Baseball is as low as it’s ever been right now?
 

Philly_Cat

Well-known member
Also, where are you going to play in the inner city? Ballfields and old-fashioned greenspace in the inner-city has been disappearing for years, and a portion of the existing ones are poorly maintained or simply too dangerous to play on (broken glass everywhere). One vacant lot I played on as a kid was turned into a block of houses. Another where I played "home run derby" is now a parking lot. Different sport, but I think back to Tim Duncan. He was reportedly an excellent swimmer but had his swimming career come to a screeching halt after Hurricane Hugo destroyed the only pool available to him back in '89. Gotta have a place to do it.
This goes back to what I said the Reds academy has done for the area of Cincinnati. They have fields all over the entire city dedicated as Reds fields for their promotion of baseball in the city. Couple that with their academy location that offers free training of all types, including weights and conditioning, and you have the correct recipe for doing what you can do keep baseball as inclusive as possible.
 
.
Top