AVON — Humbled.
That was the word both Bob Lippert and John Christopher used Wednesday afternoon in describing the honor of throwing out the ceremonial fist ball bestowed on them of throwing out the by the baseball programs from St. Paul and Norwalk, respectively.
The schools played Wednesday at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon.
Lippert, the son of the late Robert Lippert, Sr., a long-time baseball coach among other sports at St. Paul, said that his father not only taught him baseball but about life.
“The years I coached with him I will never forget,” said Lippert, who Wednesday learned that he has been promoted to the rank of lieutenant on the Erie County Sheriff’s Office. “He also taught me how to deal with kids and understand them.”
“Dad was a no-nonsense coach and that’s the approach I took back when I was coaching and that is my belief in my occupation today.
“He was a straight-shooter, never mincing words. He believed the more honest you are with people, the further along you get with them. Respect was not automatic from him. He believed it was earned.”
Lippert appreciated the two programs thinking enough of his father to give him the chance to stand in for him Wednesday.
Lippert remembered the day the late Charlie Roth hired him to coach the St. Paul reserve team.
“I knew of a heck of an assistant,” Lippert said of his father.
“He was an instant hire. The first afternoon as I remember, we worked with the jayvees one year and when Charlie resigned, we moved up to the varsity.
“I remained the head coach and somewhere, we switched off and he took over. We were together for eight years. All I can say is, if any son has a chance to do that, jump at it. The days and the years fly by.”
Christopher was one of four first-team all-Ohio players at Norwalk High School.
Another was Christopher’s teammate Gary Wilde, the long-time first-base coach for Wes Douglas. Allyn Schnellinger and Brett Smith were the other two.
Christopher’s high school career started in 1976 when he was a freshman under John Deehr.
He lettered all four years, playing the outfield, first base and pitcher.
“Actually, I had a better year at the plate my junior year,” said Christopher, 50, perhaps better known as a punter at both the high school and college (Morehead State) levels. I hit .481 as a junior, a number that was the record for a time but passed many times since then.”
Christopher still keeps up with the Truckers.
“This is really great for Norwalk baseball,” said Christopher, the superintendent of the water department at Cuyahoga Falls.
“What makes me proud is my teammates, Wes and Gary, are the mainstays of the Norwalk program,” Christopher said. “I swing by occasionally and see how they are doing. It is obvious they are just as good at what they do now.”
Christopher also talked about the past.
“We were 18-9 our senior year when we made it to the final four, losing to Cleveland Benedictine,’’ he said. “It was a season when we started to realize our potential late in the year.”
Christopher still sees Deehr.
“John lives in Stow,’’ Christopher said. “ I see him on occasion and get over to his house for dinner once in awhile.”