Junior high expects to keep use of gym

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By Larry Goffinet

Tell City-Troy Township School Corp.’s considering closing its junior high school probably has some sports fans wondering where all the school system’s basketball teams would find room to practice and play all their games.

If the proposed closing of the junior high goes into effect, sixth graders would attend William Tell Elementary and seventh and eighth graders would attend Tell City High School.

There is undoubtedly room for the additional students at the high school, as the current enrollment there is 494 and the high school housed 950 students in the early 1970s—before additions were made to the building in 1980.

But while there may be room in the classrooms, it would be hard for all the basketball teams to find gymnasium space without the junior high gym.

“It’s difficult to try to schedule practices right now,” Phil DeSpain, athletics director at the junior high, said Thursday.

Tell City High School has had two gyms ever since the auxiliary gym was built in 1980. And William Tell Elementary has one as well.

But in the past 20 years Tell City has added fifth and sixth grade boys and girls basketball teams, as well as a sixth grade volleyball team. There are also intramural basketball leagues for third and fourth graders.

And the number of games played by teams at nearly every level has also increased in the last two decades.

If the junior high is closed, the school board would reportedly try to sell the building.

Tell City-Troy Township Superintendent Ron Etienne said at a school board meeting last month that a couple of people have indicated interest in buying it.

The names of prospective buyers for the building have not been revealed to the public.

But DeSpain said he has been told that “part of the plan (for any proposed sale) is that we still get to use the gym.”

If that is the case—and the sale comes with an iron-clad, long-term agreement specifically stating that the school system can still use the gym for practices and games six days a week—then that would make closing the junior high a lot more palatable to many residents of the school district.

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I realize all hall of fame elections are partly fueled by politics. But could someone explain why Andre Dawson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame last week while Bert Blyleven is still on the outside looking in?

Yes, Blyleven, who pitched for the Evansville Triplets Class AAA team for about six weeks before his promotion to the major leagues at age 19, is getting closer as he received 74.2 percent of the baseball writers’ votes in this year’s election—just short of the 75 percent required.

But he should already be in while I’m not sure Dawson ever deserved to make it. Dale Murphy, who received just 11.7 percent of the votes this year, has just as strong a case for the Hall of Fame as Dawson.

It’s ironic that baseball writers often base their votes for postseason awards on whether a player’s team won its division, yet they have not elected Blyleven, who won two World Series with small-market teams (Pittsburgh and Minnesota) to the hall and have elected Dawson, who never made it to the World Series.

Blyleven is fifth on the all-time strikeout list with 3,701, ninth in shutouts with 60, and 27th in wins with 287.

There are 56 starting pitchers in the Hall of Fame (not counting Dennis Eckersley, who made 361 starts but made the hall primarily for his work as a reliever) and there’s no way Blyleven should not be among them.

As for Dawson, he won eight Gold Gloves in 21 seasons and hit 438 home runs (one every 24.6 at-bats). But he had a .279 career batting average and meager .323 on-base average.

He finished in his league’s top three in home runs only three times and hit more than 32 only once, in 1987 when he led the National League with 49.

Murphy, who play center field, the same position as Dawson, won five Gold Gloves, hit 398 home runs (one every 22.7 at-bats), led the NL in homers and RBIs twice, and finished in the top three in homers six times.

He had a .265 career batting average but a .391 on-base average--a statistic voters should look at more closely.