Baseball History



By William J. Gerhardt, MD, Historian

The twentieth baseball team in the history of the school was the “strongest baseball team in the school’s history” (the 1948 Annual).  That Maroon team captured West High’s first Ohio State Baseball Championship under the twenty year coachmanship of Paul Nohr. That team finished with a 21-1 record with the only loss to Purcell who the Maroons beat two other times that same year.

On the way to the state championship they beat Dayton Fairview 11-1, then Troy, and in Columbus on the freshman baseball diamond next to the horseshoe football stadium they beat Warren Harding 8-6, coming from behind 6-4 in the sixth inning with four runs. Bill Crigler (now deceased) was the winning pitcher, allowing only six hits, four walks and he recorded five strikeouts. Warren Harding scored five runs in the second inning mostly on errors, and in the championship team picture Don Zimmer still had tears in his eyes because of his errors in front of many major league scouts.

The first string of this potent team was Jim Frey, 1B, Bill Zimmer, 2B, Glenn Sample, 3B, Don Zimmer, SS, Hal Grote, LF, Stu Hein, CF, Dick Schellenberger, RF, Jack Gannon, C, and  Bill Crigler, P. Other West High Maroons on that championship team were seniors Tom Barry, Don Weddle, and juniors Bill Fissel, P, Bill Stormer, P, Jim Gussett, P, and Joe Kiradjieff and Dick Weslake, managers, and Jack York, bat boy. Other members of that 1948 squad who played but didn’t make the trip to Columbus were Bob Deitschle, Inf, Eugene “Bo” Stormer, P, Del Weddle, Inf, John Ellison, Inf, P, Don Kling, P, Bill Craig, P, and Stan Peters, P. 

Out of that state championship team came many outstanding college baseball players, one major league player, two major league managers, and a  21year UC baseball coach and 26 year Reds Official Scorer! – Don Zimmer, Zimmer and Frey, and Glenn Sample.

Western Hills won five PHSL baseball championships in the 1940s and that escalated to eight times in the fifties, seven times each in the sixties and seventies and six times in the 1980s. And in each

decade from the forties through the eighties there was a state championship: 1948, 1951, 1967, 1977, 1986!


The 1946 Bentley Post #50 American Legion Team came in fourth in the World Championship Series and the 1947 team was primed to win it all. They did it with eleven Western Hills Maroons, most of whom were between their sophomore and junior year. There were only four players from Elder, three of them pitchers, who made up the 15 player roster. Stewart Hein, Glenn Sample, Jim Frey, Bill Zimmer, Don Zimmer, Vernon “Sugar” Lower, Jack Gannon, Jim Gussett, Harold Grote, Bill Sachs and Roy Cheesebrew were the West High Maroons on Joe Hawk’s 1947 World Champs! The next spring they formed the talented nucleus of West High’s State Championship team. They were met by a thousand fans and family at the Union Terminal when the world champions came back to Cincinnati after their remarkable victory on the west coast.

The team traveled by train to Quincy, Illinois to win the regionals, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to win the sectional, and then to the Hollywood Stadium in Los Angeles, California for the World Championship in the fall of 1947.

You won’t believe all the perks heaped upon our local boys who won a world championship. Each man has a team picture with Babe Ruth in the center front, another with Clark Gable, another with heavy-weight boxing champ Jack Dempsey, another with Lana Turner. They received championship watches from Henry Ford II and a baseball signed by Babe Ruth ie “To Glenn from Babe Ruth.” The Babe died one year later. Clark Gable who was #1 in the movies in those days chose four of the team, Jim Frey, Jack Gannon, Stu Hein, and Glenn Sample to visit him in his trailer (and each has a photo of Clark and the four of them). Mr. Gable told them to share with the rest of the team “I was born in Cadiz, Ohio on a dirt farm in the depression. Our family moved to Oklahoma in the oilfields and I joined a local theater group which I enjoyed so much I moved to Hollywood and started as a stage hand and stunt man, learned singing and dancing, and now I’m the #1 movie actor, - tell the team about my beginning and my now.” Then in October 1947 the world champs were invited to two games of the World Series in New York between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn-with-Jackie-Robinson-Dodgers. What perks!

I interviewed Glenn sample for this information and what a bundle of information he is! Glenn stated “We were a successful team and were always confident we would win.” The west side was always the hot baseball area with city champions from the knothole level on through the high school level. Glenn mentioned that the Bentley Post won five world championships including when the Brinkman brothers played on it. The nucleus of the ’47 Bentley and ’48 West High champions had been city champions with the Cheviot Building and Loan Knothole Team (Lower, Sachs, Gannon, Cheesebrew, Sample, Frey and Don Zimmer – part of the West High Class  of ’49), and in 1949 they were National Amateur Baseball Federation (NABF) champs as the Thomas E. Wood Team.

On the sixtieth anniversary of this exciting Bentley - West High Maroon baseball team we salute them and their first World Championship and State Championship! What a great bunch of talented athletes. It’s good to hear the whole story again


Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes, Class of 1986, playing in his eleventh year of Japanese pro-ball, was sent home to the US with pain in his left thigh before the Orix Buffalo season was over in the Japan’s Pacific League. He had a league leading 42 home runs, 88 walks, slugging % .603 and on-base % .403! (Cincinnati Enquirer September 20, 2007).