Father, son battle today in New Martinsville

Both Dave and Mark Cisar are legends on the Magnolia High School baseball field.

Dave – the long-time head coach – recently surpassed the 800-win plateau and his son Mark is one of the finest baseball players to ever come through the Ohio Valley.

The Cisars will be on the same Magnolia diamond in New Martinsville today for a 5 p.m. first pitch.

However, they’ll be in opposite dugouts wanting to beat the other one in the worst way possible.

“I’d love to win just as much as he would like to,” Mark said. “To be honest, we just need to win games, period.”

Mark – a first-year head baseball coach – will bring his Union Local Jets to the diamond where he threw batting practice and later starred as a player to meet once-beaten Magnolia.

“It’s going to be fun,” Mark said. “My children are going to the game and they can see their daddy coach against pap-pap, so that’ll be nice.

“My dad says he doesn’t enjoy coaching against me, but I think he does.”

The Blue Eagles are currently 15-1 on the season, while the Jets are 4-8.

“I am sure Mark will do well (at Union Local),” Dave said. “As much as we want each other to do well, we’ll be putting our own teams first.”

While it’s the first time dad and son have competed against one another as head coaches, they’ve been battling it out for a long time in a variety of sports. Plus, the two have been in opposite dugouts when Mark has served as an assistant coach.

“I am looking forward to it and I’m just approaching it as another facet of competition amongst the family,” Dave said.

Mark obviously had hopes of a lengthy professional career, but deep down, his dad always had a hunch he’d end up coaching.

“Even growing up, Mark was innovative,” Dave said. “In all sports, actually.”

The two-time Kennedy Award winner in football, while playing for his dad, Mark got his first taste of what it’s like to be a prep baseball coach at the ripe old age of eight. That was the first time his dad took him to practice and let him throw batting practice.

“Mark threw batting practice before almost every game,” Dave said.

If you’re doing the math in your head, when Mark delivers a round of BP to his Jets before they depart for Wetzel County today, he’ll be working on almost 30 years of pitching to prep players.

“It was just something that was expected,” Mark said. “My brothers and I had our entire lives based around athletics. It’s just what we’ve done. It was pretty intense in our house.”

Mark has been able to dial that intensity in somewhat because times have obviously changed and he’s also a father himself of a daughter and son.

“Mark has a better perspective, and I think seeing me as a coach, I think he learned something about that,” Dave said.

Looking back on it now, Dave admitted that he was “way, way too hard” on his sons.

“I wish I had to do that over again,” Dave offered. “I took sports home with me too much.”

As Mark pointed out, even if his dad wasn’t talking to his sons about a Blue Eagles’ football or baseball game, if a game came on television, the discussion of scenarios and comparisons were made.

While Dave might regret some of that, Mark is totally appreciative.

“I model many things after how my dad coached me and still coaches,” Mark said. “I didn’t think that would be case until this year. We do an awful lot of things alike, both in terms of our approach and strategy. I think my team will get a chance to see where I got my passion and fire for the game.”

The two talk almost nightly after games. Whether it’s lamenting about something or just filling each other in on their respective games, the discussion always surrounds baseball.

“We bounce things off of each other all the time,” Mark said. “We’ve talked almost every night since I left for college about baseball and that includes my five or six years of pro ball. Baseball has been the passion in the house. We’re still extremely close and this is going to be fun.”

The big question remaining, however, is who will Mark’s mom Beverly Cisar be rooting for today?

“Probably Mark,” Dave said. “She’ll root for Magnolia, but she’ll also root for Mark, so I am left out of the equation.”

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com