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Graham’s magical baseball run remembered

Bill Dallas remembers his high school baseball field as an old farm patch — 12 miles from Graham High, just north of Kiser Lake, in tiny Rosewood. It’s the kind of out-of-the-way place where the only choice is to dream.

In 1973, that old diamond is where 18 Graham ballplayers dreamed of a state championship. It’s where Donzil Hall built a team on pitching and defense, where Dallas played shortstop and where few people went to watch the Falcons play.

Today at Donzil Hall Field at Graham that dream season will be remembered when the 1973 Class AA state champions celebrate the 40th anniversary of their magical run. The team will be recognized before Graham’s 11 a.m. doubleheader against Miami East. Hall, who is in his 80s, will throw out the first pitch.

All but two of the team members have committed to be at the ceremony, according to Tim West, a junior pitcher on the team and the reunion organizer. A reunion party is planned for 5 p.m. at the Champaign County Fairgrounds and is open to family, friends and fans of the team and Graham alumni.

Dallas, who was the team’s leadoff hitter and batted .403, lives in California, where he runs a large home-loan company. Gary Kite, who was the team’s No. 1 pitcher with an 11-2 record, is coming from North Carolina. Others are coming from all over Ohio.

The ’73 Falcons finished 21-3 and had to win eight tournament games. Four times they won in their last at-bat.

“It was just not one or two people,” said West, who pitched a two-hitter in the state final. “Somebody different was doing something all the time to win it. It was a complete team effort.”

The tensest time was a Saturday when the Falcons played twice in Lima because of rain the previous day. First, they beat Woodmore 2-1 with a run in the top of the seventh inning. Then West threw a one-hitter and the Falcons beat Paulding 1-0 with another seventh-inning run.

“That was a miracle,” Dallas said.

Then it was on to Columbus for the state tournament.

“I remember — and I get chills talking about it — when we loaded up to go I could not see the end of the caravan going to Columbus,” Dallas said.

Hall is a member of the Miami Valley Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame and coached the Falcons for 29 years. He led the effort to build the current field in 1978, and it was named in his honor in 1993.

“He was smart and kept it simple and at that level knew how to get the most out of most of us,” Dallas said. “He was a very good baseball coach.”

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