Kaleb Bowdle of Urbana High School has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 Harvey Haddix Memorial Sportsmanship Award, sponsored by the Daily Citizen and the Cincinnati Reds. Bowdle will attend the Reds’ July 24 contest with the Cardinals and throw out the ceremonial first pitch. That game is scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m.
Bowdle fondly remembers watching former Hillclimber Kyle Mossbarger throw out the first pitch when he won the award in 2007.
“We went down to the game and watched it and that’s when I first found out about it. I remember my dad telling me about how Kyle won it and how he had sportsmanship throughout his career and wrote an essay and how he got to throw out the first pitch,” Kaleb said. “It’s really been a goal of mine since that moment, sitting at that Reds game, watching Kyle do that, that I wanted to do that. I wanted to win this award. I’ve had friends win it. There’s been other Urbana kids win it. It’s pretty awesome I get to follow in those footsteps.”
Following in Haddix’s footsteps 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.
Other finalists this year included Graham’s Jimmy Stickley and Triad’s Jacob Greve.
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were a Major League non-factor for decades after their 1979 world title and the Braves have since moved to Atlanta and been replaced by the Brewers, one thing has remained unchanged: Haddix was known for his sportsmanship.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.
Bowdle follows that tradition today with his exemplary behavior.
“Kaleb challenged himself very early on to be a player with high integrity and sportsmanship,” said UHS Coach Kevin Bowdle of his son. “As a freshman, he was able to show his leadership, and that continued throughout his entire career. Kaleb was able to achieve his goals with his willingness to work, his attitude, and his sportsmanship.”
Kaleb carries a 3.9 GPA on a 5.0 scale and was a member of the Urbana High School National Honor Society. He won four varsity letters in baseball and four more in football and was the Central Buckeye Conference/Mad River Division baseball player of the year as a senior.
Now, he will begin the next chapter of his journey at Marietta College, where he’ll study psychology and sports management and continue to play baseball.
“For next year, one of my biggest goals is to be playing and not just being there on the team. I’d like to contribute,” he said. “And I want to get my degree in the next four years, stay on track, just so I can be prepared for the future. Right now I haven’t really decided. I either want to get a degree in forensic psychology and work for the FBI, or if I go the sports management route, I want to go work in the front office of a professional team.”
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.