Myers hits his way into Charleston HOF

WHEELING — John Marshall is one of the blue blood baseball programs in the OVAC.

Bob Montgomery guided a Monarch powerhouse for 42 years amassing 869 career wins, including the 1985 state championship to go with seven OVAC crowns. He was inducted into the OVAC Hall of Fame in 2017.

Obviously great programs feature great players. John Marshall was no exception during Montgomery’s tenure.

One of his best was Michael Myers. Not only did the talented center fielder star on the prep level, he did so at the next level.

After graduating JM, Myers went on to script a stellar diamond career at the University of Charleston. So much so, he has been chosen for induction into the University of Charleston Athletic Hall of Fame this coming October.

Myers was a three-time first-team all-WVIAC honoree. In 1987, he hit a robust .378. A year later, in addition to being named first team all-conference, he was tabbed as the WVIAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In 1989 he was selected as the WVIAC Hitter of the Year.

“I bawled like a baby when I first heard (about the HOF induction). It is one of the biggest thrills of my athletic career,” Myers offered. “As an athlete you always want to be recognized as one of the best. Being inducted into the Hall of Fame enables you to get that recognition.

“But I was always a team-first guy. Team success was very important to me,” added the 51-year-old attorney. “I would not be going into the Hall of Fame if not for the success we had on the field. That is a credit to a lot of great teammates and coaches.”

Myers’ four-year career at Charleston was definitely one of Hall of Fame caliber, a career that almost never came to fruition. He originally committed to the University of Kentucky before having a change of heart due to the relentless recruiting and passionate efforts by the Golden Eagles coaching staff.

Myers was instant impact on the collegiate level. He started Day 1 as did his exceptional hitting. He finished his frosh campaign with a lofty .378 batting average, helping the Golden Eagles advance to the conference finals.

Myers followed up his banner debut campaign with a strong encore performance. He earned first-team all-WVIAC honors via his .327 batting average and strong defensive play as a sophomore. Charleston again enjoyed a successful season, advancing to the conference playoffs final four.

The talented batsman took it to another level his junior campaign. Myers hit at a .387 clip, again being named first-team all-conference. In the process he was also tabbed the WVIAC Hitter-of-the-Year. The Golden Eagles rode his smoking bat to the conference finals.

As fate would have it, Myers’ senior season did not measure up to the first three, partially because of a lingering injury.

“My senior year was the first time I had trouble hitting the baseball. I was always able to hit,” the Glen Dale native said. “I wasn’t totally healthy. I pulled a quad muscle during my junior season which lingered. The bright side was that we won the WVIAC regular-season title.”

In addition to being twice named the WVIAC Hitter of the Year, he was also honored on two occasions as the conference’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

While the Marshall County native enjoyed individual and team success at Charleston, the camaraderie with his teammates is something he also truly relishes.

“I had great teammates. We remain close friends to this day. I have been in a few of their weddings. We stay in touch,” Myers said. “I lived on campus all four years as did a lot of players. We saw each other on a daily basis and ate meals together.

“We developed a brotherhood. We were a close-knit group,” he added. “We became like brothers. My teammates know I will do anything for them still to this day.”

After picking up his Charleston diploma, he earned his master’s degree at Marshall before earning his law degree from Pitt.

Myers still has fond memories of his John Marshall days, a time in which he earned first-team all state honors in football.

“Back then, John Marshall was a three-year school. JM was the program and we knew it. Coming into our sophomore year you didn’t know if you could even make the team,” he said. “The older kids in the program were like superstars. I was able to start as a sophomore.”

That starting experience as a sophomore set the table for two tremendous springs for Myers, earning first-team all-state, all-OVAC and all-Valley accolades both seasons.

He batted .420 with a .540 on-base percentage during JM’s state championship season. He also scored 33 runs with a like number of RBI that year.

Myers’ senior campaign was even more impressive, one in which the Monarchs lost in the regional finals. He compiled a .430 batting average, .550 on-base percentage with 48 hits, a valley-leading 16 doubles and a school-record five home runs.

He was subsequently chosen the West Virginia Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year as well as selected The Intelligencer Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Myers was also a member of the U.S. Olympic Festival East squad in 1986.

“Mike came to John Marshall with a locker full of Roberto Clemente cards. So we hit it off right off the bat,” Montgomery said. “I remember one game against Wheeling Park. Mike had one of the great games in program history. He had nine RBI and made a great game-saving catch in right center to end the game. We won 13-11.

“Mike was obviously a great player, both in high school and collegiately. But he was much more,” the coaching legend added. “Mike was charismatic and a great leader. He still comes to see me. He is a Hall of Famer in every sense.”

Myers, a member of the 1980s Intell All-Decade Baseball team, and his wife, Michele, have two daughters. Mikayla, 21, is a medical student at Marshall, while McKenzie, 18, is a freshman at Marshall.

The University of Charleston Hall of Fame induction will be held Oct. 26. Montgomery will be in attendance.

BUBBA’S BITS

ZACK SMITH, son of former Wheeling Park and Bethany College standout lineman Brian Smith, is a D-III third team All-American at Hope College in Michigan. Hope’s home opener is Sept. 14 against Defiance College, coached by Shadyside High grad Manny Matsakis.

I LOOK for second-year receiver James Washington to have a big season for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

WITH THAT said, I expect the Steelers and Browns to both make the playoffs. But my Super Bowl pick is the Chiefs besting the Eagles.

ANDREW LUCK is drawing some criticism for his decision to retire at the tender age of 29. The Indy Colts QB cited ongoing injuries that kept him from living life as he would like. He knows his body better than anyone and owes it to himself to preserve it. He is not the first NFL star to walk away prematurely – Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and Gale Sayers all did the same. I will say, however, that Luck’s decision was ill-timed for the Colts’ best interest.

RICHARD MERRYMAN was a River High kicking star. He booted a state-record 55-yard field goal in 1965 for the Pilots. That record stood for 22 years. Merryman went to Ohio State where he was a member of the Buckeyes 1968 national championship team. Merryman died Aug. 23 in Arizona. He was 71.

OUR PRAYERS and thoughts go out to the family of John Budinscak who died Monday. The St. Clairsville resident was a founding member of the Belmont Mountaineer Athletic Club which has raised hundreds of thousands dollars for WVU athletics. John was a class and caring individual.

RON BALOG begins his second season as head coach at Quaker Valley High in Leetsdale, Pa. The former St. Clairsville High quarterback led the Quakers to a 6-5 mark last season. Indian Creek principal Jimmy Retton and Balog were roommates at Muskingum University.

I VIEW Wheeling Central QB Curtis McGhee III as a strong candidate for the Kennedy Award, emblematic of the premier high school football player in West Virginia. It was only one game, but the Brown University recruit was ultra impressive in Thursday’s 35-13 beat down of Williamstown. The talented senior accounted for 360 yards and four TDs. It may be a performance he repeats on a regular basis this season.

CONGRATULATIONS TO Shadyside High product Austin Dorris for landing two passes for Bowling Green in the Falcons 46-3 win over Morgan State Thursday night. Dorris is a grad transfer from Indiana.

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