By CHRIS LARICK
Ninth inning of the seventh game of the 2016 World Series, score Chicago Cubs 6, Cleveland Indians 6:
Ron Weaver and some of his co-workers at the Cleveland Indians shop at Progressive Field are poised with razor blades over the 150 boxes containing caps, t-shirts and sweatshirts. Lonnie Chisenall hits a long drive.
THIS COULD BE IT!
But no, the ball sails foul by inches and the Indians eventually lose the game and the World Series. The valuable Major League World Championship paraphernalia with the Indians’ logos will never be worn, will never actually be seen by anyone except the manufacturers.
“They buried them somewhere,” Weaver said. “Sometimes (in the past) they sent them to Third World Countries. But now they’re all rotting somewhere.”
That the Indians entrusted Weaver with such a serious responsibility is hardly surprising. Weaver, who will be inducted into the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Hall of Fame on Apr. 2 as a contributor, has a lengthy resume of service in high school sports in the community.
In basketball, Weaver served as Sectional/District Girls Basketball Manager for more than 35 years. Before that, he actually served as coach for the freshmen at Pymatuning Valley in basketball, a sport he didn't know all that well going in.
“Bob Hitchcock (head basketball coach at PV at the time and a charter member of the ACBF Hall of Fame) said he needed a freshman basketball coach,” Weaver said. “ He gave me a lot of help and the players didn’t need much coaching. I did that for two or three years. When I got the athletic director job I had to give it up.”
Weaver had actually grown up in Mahoning County at North Lima High School, where he played football, ran track and played a little bit of basketball. After graduation in 1962, he went to Mount Union, where he ran track and cross county.
“My sophomore year I broke the school record for the two-mile at Baldwin Wallace,” he said. “A freshman came in and broke it. I knew it was time to leave."
His first job after college graduation was at Black River, where he spent five years, coaching football and track.
In 1971 he got a job at Pymatuning Valley, in the process of building a new high school, one with outstanding athletic facilities for its time, including a nice basketball court and an all-weather track.
In 2 1/2 years he became athletic director, a job he held from 1974 or 1975 to 2001.
“We had the first all-weather track in the NEC (Northeastern Conference,” Weaver said of his early days as AD at Pymatuning Valley. “ We could not compete with Harbor, St. John and Ashtabula in football. In basketball, we held our own. In track we were very young, but we won anyway. We got our boys to the district finals in Euclid.”
Because of the all-weather track, PV got many tournaments, including some previously held as far away as Austintown Fitch. It also got basketball tournaments, including sectionals and districts. Weaver directed most of those events, hiring officials and doing the many other tasks that job required.
“Ron Richards and Frank Roskovics always helped me,” Weaver said. "We had a lot of people helping. We had to take all the results down. We ran through a lot of carbon paper.”
In basketball, Weaver received invaluable assistance from Ross Boggs, Mel Nowakowski, Al Goodwin and Bob Callahan. Nowadays the basketball tournament has moved to Grand Valley and Weaver, retired, helps Michelle Boiarski run the tournament.
Over the years, Weaver has claimed many accomplishments:
He was an athletic administrator and OWA coordinator for 26 years.
He has been a registered track official for the past 48 years and is past president of the Mahoning Valley Track Officials Association and for the past six years, has bee its Rules Interpreter.
His coaching career includes seven years of football, three years of basketball and eight years of track and cross country.
He has served as sectional/district girls basketball manager for 35 years, district boys and girls track manager for over 30 years and has worked district and regional track meets as well as the Ohio State track meet for more than 30 years.
Among the many citations he has received are the following: Ashtabula County Outstanding Track Award, 1991; Perry Public Schools Athletic Department Community Service Award, 1992; Distinguished Service Award from the Ohio Track and Cross Country Coaches Association, 1998; Northeast District Athletic Director of the Year, 1998; Election to the State Athletic Administrators Hall of Fame, 2015; Recipient of the OHSAA State Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award, 2007; and Chairman of the Ashtabula County Track and Cross Country Hall of Fame Committee, ongoing.
Though Weaver has had plenty of help along the way, he frets that that might not be the case for those who follow in his footsteps.
“In a lot of our sports, the officials are getting older,” he said. “It’s hard to get young guys in it.”
For the past 20 years, Weaver has held the job mentioned at the beginning with the Cleveland Indians. When he started, there were several Cleveland Indians shops and he had to travel at times from Erie to Sandusky. Now there’s only the one at the Stadium. Paid by the hour, he has voluntarily cut down on his ours in deference to younger workers.
“A lot of kids need the money,” he said. “During the World Series we worked 12-14 hours a day. A lot of the kids had to go to college.”
The Indians gave their off-the-field employees a big treat during the World Series. They flew 150 of them, including Weaver, first class to Chicago for Game 4. They all got to see the 7-2 victory pitched largely by Cory Kluber.
“It was great,” Weaver said.
That gave the Indians a 3-1 lead in the Series. It was also their last victory.
Now, of course, it is the off-season, but it won’t be long until Weaver is back in the shop.
“Right now I’d start Opening Day in April,” he said. “But they could call me up and say, ‘Can you work on Thursday?”
Weaver’s family consists of a son, Brian, who has two children with his wife Diane (Alexis and Jeremy) and a daughter, Brenda, who has children Jaden and Makenna with her husband, Tomas. Ron enjoys visiting his children and grandchildren every chance he gets.