Accomplished Local Legion Alumni Honored On Field Ahead of Opening Game
Big Timers: Four Area Ballplayers Who Went Pro Return to Wheeler Field
By Jordan Nailon
Of the thousands of ballplayers who have spiked up for the local American Legion baseball team only a handful have ever managed to carve out a legitimate career in the cutthroat ranks of professional baseball.
Last Saturday, as the local baseball community came together in order to kick off the amatuer American Legion “AAA” state tournament, four of those area legends returned to their old stomping grounds.
Lyle Overbay, Darcy Fast, Bill Lohr and Bob Coluccio were all honored on the field prior to the opening game of the tournament for the hometown I-5 Toyota/Mountain Dew team on Saturday evening. The old “boys of summer” were welcomed back to their home field by a large crowd and then preceded to deliver a firing line of four first pitch strikes in unison to a squadron of catchers.
Lyle Overbay, the most recently retired of the four former Twin Cities players, was also at Wheeler Field on Friday evening in order to deliver a speech at the tournament opening ceremonies. During his 14 year career that ended in 2014, the former Centralia Tiger played for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees and New York Mets.
“At one point, back when I was playing here, I thought my career was close to being over,” Overbay told the assembled crowd of players, coaches, parents and fans on Friday. “Many years later, I went on to play a season for the Yankees. It took a lot of hard work, but I came from here, and if I can do it, there’s no reason that one of you guys can’t do it too.”
Overbay, who slugged 151 career home runs and owns a lifetime .266 batting average, included inspirational quotes from the clubhouse wall of the Arizona Diamondbacks and told the players that success is often a matter of being properly prepared to seize on opportunities as soon as they arise.
“At the end of the day, you guys get to play the greatest game ever and it’s awesome. It’s an awesome game, and enjoy that moment,” said Overbay. “Make sure you guys take advantage of those opportunities when they come.”
Darcy Fast appeared in eight games as a left-handed pitcher for the Chicago Cubs in 1968 before a tour in the Vietnam War ended his baseball career. Today, he is a pastor and business owner.
Bob Coluccio, a Centralia native, had a five-year career in the Major Leagues that spanned from 1973-75. An outfielder, Coluccio played for the Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. He hit 15 home runs during his rookie campaign.
Bill Lohr was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and then spent several years advancing through their farm system as a left-handed pitcher. Eventually, he hung up his spikes and went on to have a 21-year career as scout in professional baseball. He is a member of the Centralia College Hall of Fame.