MOUNT GILEAD — More than 50 visitors came to the Sunday afternoon open house to greet former major league pitcher Tim Belcher at the Morrow County History Center May 15.
Belcher signed many autographs and reminisced with some who remembered him from his days playing basketball and baseball at Highland High School.
A Highland teacher and coach Jim Schoch was someone who Belcher said had a great influence on him. He said Schoch demanded a lot from his players and his influence stayed with him throughout his life.
Bonnie Beiler and Larry Strong enjoyed chatting with Belcher about high school baseball and basketball teams when Northmor and Highland High School were rivals in the 1970s. Belcher said both the baseball and basketball teams were great when he was playing in the 70’s.
After graduating from Highland in 1980 Belcher attended Mount Vernon Nazarene College and then played on minor league teams four years.
In 1987 he began his career in Major League Baseball (MLB) in Los Angeles as a Dodger.
He was in Los Angeles four years from 1987-1991 before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds 1992-1993. He pitched for Chicago White Sox in 1993, Detroit Tigers, 1994, Seattle Mariners 1995, Kansas City Royals 1996-1998 and Anaheim Angels 1999-2000.
He said he liked Chicago best of all the cities, mentioning there “was too much traffic in LA.” He also had opportunities to play in Japan and the Pan American Games in Caracas.
After retiring as a pitcher in 2000 he worked for the Cleveland Indians in operations before being named pitching coach for the Indians in 2009.
He resigned as pitching coach in 2015 and continues to live in Sparta where his children have attended Highland Schools.
On display at the Morrow County History Center are a couple jerseys from the Dodgers and Cincinnati teams along with a baseball from the 1988 World Series where the Dodgers were World Champions.
The 2013 Historical Society calendar notes “a highlight of his career was in October 1988 as the starting pitcher in the first game of the World Series.” Four days later he was the winning pitcher in the fourth game of the series. The Dodgers won the Series by beating the Oakland A’s in five games.
Other items in the History Center sports display include a jockey’s racing cap from Nancy Maslar’s grandfather, a baseball catcher’s mask from the 1920’s and several of Belcher’s baseball trading cards. Other special displays this season are books from local authors, artworks by local artists and a display about President Warren G. Harding.
“It was great to see Tim visit with fans and acquaintances,” said Historical Society Treasurer Phylis Miller. “He was very friendly and visited with everyone.”
The Morrow County History Center is located on the Mount Gilead Public Square at 17 W. High Street and is open on Sundays from 2-4 p.m.