Trenton Dunham of Urbana High School has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Harvey Haddix Memorial Sportsmanship Award, sponsored by the Daily Citizen and the Cincinnati Reds. Dunham will attend the Reds-Cubs game in Cincinnati on June 28 and throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
“It’s an extremely big deal, because I know the person and player that Harvey Haddix was and it’s truly an honor to be in the same boat, not only as him, but also as all the other students that have gotten it. It’s really a big honor for me,” Dunham said.
Following in Haddix’s shadow by exhibiting great sportsmanship, local high school senior baseball players were chosen as finalists for the award. The winning selection is based in part on nominations from coaches and essays written by the nominees.
For baseball lovers, local legend Harvey Haddix pitched one game that defined excellence at the position. In a career that saw 136 wins and 1,575 strikeouts coupled with an earned run average of 3.63 and 99 complete games, Haddix threw a (nearly) perfect game on May 26, 1959.
Dominating the lineup with just a fastball and a slider, Haddix hurled 12 innings of perfect baseball, retiring 36 consecutive batters for the Pittsburgh Pirates in a game against the Milwaukee Braves that day. The Pirates lost, 1-0, in the 13th inning.
“I could have put a cup on either corner of the plate and hit it,” Haddix said of the game.
Although the Pirates were a Major League non-factor for decades after their 1979 world title and the Braves have since moved to Atlanta and been replaced by the Brewers, one thing has remained unchanged: Haddix was known for his sportsmanship.
He was a likable man with a laid-back attitude that made him a fan favorite. And there were a lot of fans in a career that stretched from St. Louis to Baltimore, making stops in Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh along the way.
Dunham follows that tradition today with his exemplary behavior.
“Trenton leads by example. He is one of the first players to show up and the last to leave,” UHS Coach Kevin Bowdle said. “(He’s) always looking for what is best for the team and never for himself. Trenton truly loved his high school career and all the things he did.”
Dunham earned All-Ohio Academic honors this season, touting a 3.52 cumulative GPA. He’ll be attending Wright State in the fall and studying accounting, with a possible minor in business or a related field.
“I just mostly want to focus on my studies. It’s really a big honor to be able to go to Wright State and be able to pursue a career that I want to be in,” he said.
Here is Dunham’s submitted essay:
“Sportsmanship is so much more than just an action in sports. Sportsmanship is a way of life. Having sportsmanship on and off the field is something that all athletes should share. This way of playing the game goes far beyond the sports that we all play, it goes into who we are as individuals and leaders.
The game of baseball has been my escape for nearly 14 years, and I would not trade away the experiences that I have had for anything. I believe that those experiences would have not been the same if sportsmanship was not part of how I played the game. Sportsmanship is not only how someone acts on the field, but it is respecting the team and coaches that you are playing against. Even though the team you are playing against is an antagonist blocking your path to victory, they are still people outside of the game. This is what made me always respect not only my teammates, but the people that I am competing against. If I did not have the sportsmanship that I have now, then I would not be the same competitor that I am today. Through my years of playing sports I have learned that sportsmanship is not only a way of playing the game of baseball, it is a way of life.
“In life, you always have the choice to do something bigger than yourself. Whether that be holding the door for someone else, or picking up something that someone else has dropped without noticing. Sportsmanship is something that can be applied not only in the game of baseball, but to the game of life. In life, there will always be conflicts between two or more people and sometimes, things are said that should not have been said, but at the end of the day, we are still people. I believe that this is something that the society of today has forgotten. Conflicts are able to draw lines in not only the lives of individuals, but in our country as a whole. Whether it be political parties unable to agree on policies or family members unable to agree on the location of a party, conflict is able to create a rift between the two sides. Although there is not sports involved, sportsmanship is the ability to go along with these conflicts, so that at the end of the day, the two sides are able to reconnect and be at peace. You are not always going to get your way in life, but with the ideology of sportsmanship in mind, you are able to resolve conflicts and understand the viewpoints of the other side. Because at the end of the day, we are all still humans.
“Baseball has been far more than just a pastime for me, it has been a life-changing experience. Of course there were ups and downs, but I was able to see the bigger picture of the game. I saw that no matter the competition that occurs on the field, outside of that diamond, we are still people just trying to live our lives. There is no need to disrespect your opponents under any terms. Sure they are trying to win, which opposes your team’s goal to win, but outside of the game we are all still humans. No matter how bad the conflict, no matter how bad the argument, no matter how bad the war, both sides are still humans and despite the opposing viewpoints, they both share a passion for what they are fighting for. Therefore, sportsmanship is something that is so much bigger than just the game of baseball, it is a way of life. A way of life that the society of today needs to embrace, remembering that outside of conflict we are all still humans trying to achieve the highest that we can.”
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.