Clay honors coaching legends with ceremony

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

Tradition – a tradition that has stretched for nearly a century with great coaches, talented players and a community that supports the program will always appreciate its past.
In nearly 100 years, the Clay baseball program has had just five coaches. Two were recently honored by the team for their steadfast efforts in lifting the program to new heights.
Last Monday, there was a dedication ceremony at Oregon Municipal Recreation Center’s Ousky Field, naming its new press box/locker room facility after former longtime coaches Dick Kandik and Karl Knierim.
“I thought the day was phenomenal,” said Clay coach Jim Phillips. “I hope it was a small token of appreciation that those two really deserved for the years of service for the baseball program, school district and the Oregon community.”
After the school’s first coach, Harold Potter, posted a 472-277 record with 13 league titles between 1928-74, Kandik, who had been Potter’s assistant, served as head coach from 1975-96, guiding the Eagles to a 438-164 record, nine Great Lakes League titles, and a Class AAA state championship season in ‘79.
Knierim, a ‘76 Clay grad who had played for Kandik before moving on to Kent State University, was Kandik’s assistant for 11 years before succeeding him as head coach in ‘97. In his 13 seasons (1997-2009), Knierim was 234-106-1 with five league titles (three in GLL, two in City League) and three district championships.
Kandik, who now lives in Florida, talked about being recognized.
“It’s a great experience to come back. It was a humbling experience to be recognized for the work,” he said. “It was about the assistant coaches, the volunteer coaches and the great players.”
He credited a “really good” recreation program for helping to make the program so successful.
“Harold Potter was an innovator and did indoor skills with the kids,” Kandik said.
Knierim, who still lives in Oregon, said he was humbled by the ceremony.
“It means the world to me. It means so much that other people feel the way they do,” he said. “It’s heartwarming.
“There are so many memories. The biggest thing was finding fun working with the kids. It was something I looked forward to,” he said. “It’s not just about the league and district titles. It’s all the little things that occurred during the games.”
The Eagles currently rank No. 4 in Ohio prep baseball history with 1,373 victories.
The team that went 25-2 and won a state championship 45 years ago was led by Keith “Moose” Belcik, Roger Achter and his brother, Rod.
Roger Achter talked about the success of the program and the team that won the state title.
“One of the most important things was (Kandik) had Jim Routson as the pitching coach. He turned the pitching staff over to him. He really made it fun,” said Achter. “Because we played together growing up, we knew our strengths and weaknesses. Coach Kandik had a little bit of control over the younger leagues.”


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