Barry Closser honored at BL

CONNORVILLE — The numbers speak for themselves.

  • 430 wins — which stand 12th all-time in the state of Ohio.
  • 32 years — 10 at Buckeye West; 2 at Buckeye SouthWest and 20 at Buckeye Local.
  • 2003 — the year Barry Closser was inducted into the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame.

For all of his accomplishments, and there are many more, Closser was honored prior to Saturday’s 21st annual Buckeye Local Invitational.

Not only did he receive a very nice plaque from current Panthers’ head coach Joe Soos, there is also had a banner hanging on the fence in centerfield. He also got to throw out the first pitch.

“I’m truly honored and humbled,”?Closser said. “Thirty-two years seems like a long time, but it went by pretty fast.

“I’m grateful to be here.”

Closser coached in the Buckeye Local School District from 1977-2009. Although his teams never reached the regional or state level, they were a terror around the Ohio Valley.

He won three OVAC?titles at three different schools — 1987 at Buckeye West, 1988 at Buckeye SouthWest, and 1999 at Buckeye Local.

It was that 6-5 victory over Edison in 1999 that Closser said really comes to the forefront of his many cherished memories.

“We were playing down at John Marshall and Edison was winning 5-2 in the last inning,”?Closser recalled. “We had two out and nobody on with our No. 9 hitter up.

“I see Hoot (long-time T-L?sports writer Rich Gibson) telling someone that this game will be over in a minute,”?Closser continued. “We went on to score four runs and win the game.

“When I got home that night, people were coming up and telling me how disappointed they were that we didn’t win. They had left early. I told them, “we won.”

Soos, who came up with the idea of honoring the former coaching great, said, “This is a very long overdue honor. This should have been done a long time ago, and I think other schools should look back and do the same for theirs.

“Thirty-two years takes a lot of dedication,”?Soos added. “He’s probably coached more than 600 ballplayers. I know he coached both of mine, both of my (assistant) coaches?Jim Bartrug’s and Donnie Moore’s.

“To stay with it for that long and get 430 wins is nothing to sneeze at.”

Closser was very proud of the fact that he only had six assistant coaches during his long tenure.

His teams also captured six Buckeye Local Invitational championships (1993-1995, 1998, 2001 and 2007) and also finished runnerup half-a-dozen times (1991, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2005-06).

Saturday’s honor was bestowed upon a coach — and man — that truly deserved it. It’s a shame it took so long!

North can be reached at knorth@timesleaderonline.com