RIPLEY - High school baseball will be taking on a big league atmosphere in Ripley this spring. Special game promotions are planned at each of 15 home dates for the Vikings.
The Bambino will be visiting Viking Park. Several outstanding Viking teams and players will be honored. A lucky fan will win tickets to a Major League game. There also will be a rare Saturday tripleheader with a salute to those who are serving our country.
"Baseball has a great tradition in Ripley," said Coach Shane Casto. "We're going to celebrate that tradition this season. We want to not only put an exciting team on the field, but also create a special game atmosphere for the fans of the community to enjoy."
Select games will feature local celebrities throwing out the honorary first pitch and special guests performing the National Anthem. The team is producing the promotions with assistance from sports marketing students at RHS.
It all gets started with the opening game at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 16 involving several Ripley grads. Mayor Carolyn Rader and Jackson County Commissioner Mike Randolph will be throwing out first pitch and Cara Waybright will be singing the anthem.
The Vikings will honor Class AAA First-Team All-State players Jerry Howery (1980), Robbie Pannell (1981), Nolan Raines (1981), Steve Jordan (1982), Scott Walters (1983), Eric Hersman (1988-89), Coach Mike Lawrence (1993), Coach Frankie Cummings (1994-95) Principal Will Hosaflook (1996), J.R. Parsons (1997), Head Coach Shane Casto (1997), Jimmy Knight (1998), Kevin Thompson (1998-99), Morgan Clendenin (2000), Josh Whitlock (2004) and Jamin Jones (2012).
Babe Ruth Night is scheduled at 7 p.m. March 28. The legendary "Sultan of Swat" will be portrayed by Gene Worthington as part of History Alive! This West Virginia Humanities Council program is being hosted by the Ripley Rotary Club and is supported with financial assistance from the Office of the Secretary, West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts.
Elvis and Johnny Cash will set the mood during '50s Night at 7 p.m. April 9. The Vikings will be honoring Coach Paul Lanham's 1957, 1958 and 1959 teams. Lanham is best known for going on to coach in two Super Bowls, but he had stellar baseball squads at Ripley High including the school's first state tournament team in '57 and the remarkable record of 48 consecutive shutout innings in '59.
Disco makes its triumphant return for '70s Day at noon on March 23 when the Vikings welcome back the 1974 sectional champs. Ripley's first state championship team of 1997 coached by Ray Swisher will be honored while fans will hear the sounds of Michael Jackson and Billy Ray Cyrus during '90s Night on April 26 .
"It will be like having class reunions at the field," Casto said. "We want the players from those teams to come back and enjoy the game, but it also will be a great opportunity for all of the grads from those decades to get together again and reminisce."
Page 2 of 2 - Military Appreciation Day will take place during three games beginning at noon on Saturday, March 30. The Vikings will unveil their new camo-style uniforms that day against Ravenswood and Chapmanville. The Jackson County Marine Corps League, Jackson County Troop Link and Army recruiters will be among the participating organizations in this patriotic tribute.
The inaugural Viking Baseball Hall of Fame will be introduced on April 12. Legendary coaches Swisher and Lanham, and former pro players Cummings, Clendenin and Whitlock will be inducted.
A fan will win two tickets to a Pirate game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh during West Virginia Power Night on April 19. In case of rain, the promotions will take place at the following home game.
2013 Home Schedule
Sat. March 16 – 5 p.m. vs. Princeton – All-State Salute Night
Sat. March 23 – Noon vs. Greenbrier East – '70s and Band Day (Tribute to '74 Vikings)
Mon. March 25 – 6 p.m. vs. Spring Valley – RMS Baseball Night
Tues. March 26 – 7 p.m. vs. Roane County – RHS Fellowship of Christian Athletes Night
Thur. March 28 – 7 p.m. vs. Oak Hill – Babe Ruth Night
Sat. March 30 – Noon vs. Chapmanville, 5 p.m. vs. Ravenswood – Military Appreciation Day
Fri. April 5 – 7 p.m. vs. Winfield – Little League Night
Mon. April 8 – 7 p.m. vs. St. Albans – Lady Viking Softball Night
Tues. April 9 – 7 p.m. vs. South Charleston – '50s Night (Tribute to '57-'59 Vikings)
Wed. April 10 – 7 p.m. vs. Poca – Academic All-Star Night
Fri. April 12 – 7 p.m. vs. Logan – Hall of Fame Night
Fri. April 19 – 6 p.m. vs. Sissonville – RHS Choral Night
Mon. April 19 – 7 p.m. vs. Riverside – WV Power Night
Fri. April 26 – 7 p.m. vs. Point Pleasant – '90s Night (Tribute to '97 Vikings)
Thur. May 2 – 7 p.m. vs. Herbert Hoover – Senior & Teacher Appreciation Night