Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation

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Gordon Hitchcock

Three’s company
Former PV great Gordon Hitchcock thrilled to be joining former teammates in the ACBF Hall of Fame

By CHRIS LARICK 
For the Star Beacon

Somewhat overshadowed by two higher-scoring teammates at Pymatuning Valley, Gordon (Gordy) Hitchcock was a bit surprised to learn that he has been selected to enter the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation’s Hall of Fame at the group’s 10th-anniversary banquet on March 25.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Hitchcock said recently. “I never thought it would happen.”

Hitchcock’s brother, Bob, and Paul Freeman, the other studs on the Laker teams of the early 1960s, were more prolific as scorers on those Pymatuning Valley teams. But Gordy’s contributions can’t be overstated, either. Despite standing just 6-foot-1, Hitchcock played forward and sometimes center on a team that also included 6-3 Ray Brown and Gary Horton.

“If anything, I was more known for defense,” said Hitchcock, who still scored 666 points in high school on teams that went a combined 70-21, 56-12 in the three years Hitchcock started. “I played the other team’s best player. At Berlin Hiland, I guarded Andy Helowitz. We pressed the whole game.

“They always called me Moose,” he said. “I don’t know whether it was Coach Shantz or (Star Beacon sports writer) Jim Landis that gave me that. We were pallbearers at Landis’ funeral, me, Bob and Paul Freeman.”

That group of players put a lot of points on the board, thanks largely to the press that coach Joe Shantz utilized. That system required great conditioning, but Shantz had the Lakers prepared.

“We ran out to Andover Hill, then ran up and down, up and down,” Hitchcock said. “That was part of our training. Bob (Hitchcock) was our leading scorer. Offensively, we were a screen-and-roll offense. We’d score 70 or 80 points. There were times when we  hit 100.”

Hitchcock was a three-sport athlete at Pymatuning Valley, catching during the baseball season and running the 440 and mile relay in track.

“I pitched sometimes,” he said. “I batted .500 a couple of times. In track, I could never beat Paul Freeman.

He attended Andover High School as a freshman, before that school merged with Williamsfield into Pymatuning Valley in 1960. Most of the Laker big guns of those years came from Richmond — the Hitchcocks, Freeman and Brown.

PV posted some great seasons — 19-4 in 1960-61, 22-2 in 1961-62 and 15-6 in 1962-63, the latter the year after Bob Hitchcock and some of the others graduated. It advanced to the regionals in 1962 when Gordy was a senior, before being ousted by Berlin Hiland in overtime.

After graduation, Hitchcock attended Kent State’s main campus for a year, then transferred to that school’s Ashtabula branch the following year. He played basketball at the extension, where he played with current Conneaut coach Tim Tallbacka’s father.

“Then I ran into grade problems and had to sit out a quarter,” Hitchcock said. “I never went back. There are so many players that say they regret never going to college. I went, so I can’t regret it.”

Hitchcock then took a job at Lincoln Electric. At the time, many considered that a plum job because of the huge bonuses that were given out each year.

“The money was good,” Hitchcock said. “But I didn’t like working inside. I quite before I got the first year’s bonus.

“I went to work for my grandfather, on his farm. Then I bought my other grandfather’s farm in 1969, where I am now.”

Hitchcock was a dairy farmer for 41 years before he retired last April. Now he raises heifers and farms grain.

“I like to work,” he said.

In 1969 Hitchcock married Linda. The Hitchcocks have three daughters and a son. Gordy, 41, who was himself a good basketball player and football player at PV, was redshirted in football at Edinboro before playing four years there, starting as a tight end, then moved to center.

“He was the lightest player on their line,” Gordy Sr. said.

Gordy Jr. is now principal at Maplewood High School, something his father is quite proud of.

Ann, 38, is the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) at a nursing home in Cleveland. Ann got into athletics late, as a senior in track. Throwing the discus, she still qualified for state in the discus.

Kelly, 37, played basketball at Pymatuning Valley and Walsh before her nursing school obligations kept her from continuing. She is now a nurse, living in Middlefield. The youngest Hitchcock, Tracy, is a veterinarian,

“I have been blessed,” Gordy said.

Though Gordy’s family is by no means small, it is dwarfed by the one he grew up in. He has 10 siblings, six sisters and four brothers.