By David Green
DRAFFENVILLE – Ty Goheen and Ernest Fiser are names that may not be all that familiar to Marshall County sports fans nowadays.
In years past, they were well known, indeed.
And, as their selection for induction into the Marshall County High School Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame proves, they have not been forgotten.
They are especially prominent in the memories of those old enough to remember Goheen’s prowess on the baseball field, or Fiser’s achievements as head basketball coach at several county high schools.
“I played baseball with him,” Benton resident J.C. Jones said of Goheen.
“He was a super athlete.”
Jones was just out of the Army after serving in World War II when he began playing for the Benton Lions in the Twin States League.
The league was once a hotbed of high-level baseball involving teams from western Kentucky and southern Illinois.
By that time, Goheen – whose playing days stretched back into the time of Babe Ruth, Dizzy Dean and other stars of the time – was in his mid-40s.
Still, at that age, he was capable of pitching two nine-inning games on one day,, a feat which drew local and national news media attention in 1947.
“He pitched smart baseball,” Jones said. He didn’t try to overpower the batters. He pitched the corners and had a read good curve ball.”
Goheen had no star’s ego, Jones said, despite his exceptional abilities.
“He was pretty easy to get a long with,” Jones said. “I enjoyed my time behind him in center field.”
Goheen’s son, Benny, played on the 1959 state basketball championship team at North Marshall High School. Now 68, he says he has no clear memories of his father’s playing days.
“I never saw him pitch in a game,” Goheen said.
He also admitted he does not know where his dad got the nickname “Ty,” but suspects it may have some relation to the famous baseball player Ty Cobb, who was just a few years older than his dad.
But he knows about his father’s exploits, just the same, such as stories of him playing during the Great Depression as a semi-professional for the Dawson Daylights, a team fielded by the Dawson Daylight Coal Co. of Madisonville.
“He pitched two games a week,” Goheen said. “They paid him a salary plus $50 a game.”
He also told how his father had offers to play professional baseball, but could not make as much money as he could playing for company teams.
“He talked about going out to California one time and playing out there, but he got homesick and came back here,” Goheen said.
Jones recalled that Goheen, who worked at the Kentucky Ordnance Works plant in West Paducah during the war, was older than the service veterans who played after coming home from the war.
“Baseball back then was about the only recreation,” he said. “We had a game every Sunday.”
He recalled how Goheen would bring his wife, two daughters and young son to every game, “no matter how hot it was.”
Goheen added that fans would often toss change or dollar bills into his sister’s baby carraige after games, to show their appreciation for his talents.
“He’d be honored” by his selection to the hall of fame, Goheen said. “He really would be honored.”
Fiser served as head basketball coach at several Marshall County schools for 20 of his 24 years in coaching.
He took three teams to the state tournament, two from Calvert City High School in 1934-35 and the 1943 team from Benton High School.
Allen McClain, who operates McClain’s Barber Shop in Benton, was one of his players.
“He was a good coach, all around,” McClain said. “We played a zone defense, a shifting man-to-man.”
Another of Fiser’s player, Edd O’Dell, remembers that Fiser came to Calvert Ctty High from one of the county schools.
“I believe it was Birmingham,” he said. “He came here the year I was a freshman. He was here for the four years I was in high school.”
Those years included the two regional championship teams.
O’Dell remembered how Fiser was more strict in the classroom than on the basketball court.
“He was close to us, but he wasn’t that critical,” he said.
O’Dell commented on how, in those days, the coach had limited contact with the players, in contrast to today’s style.
“He could only coach us at halftime,” he said.
McClain remembers Fiser being “more on the serious side.” The coach, he said, “was not the kind who would crack a joke and make you laugh.”
Both have fond memories of their coach.
“He was a good coach, and a good man,” McClain said.
“I liked Ernest,” O’Dell said. “We were very cloase.”
NEXT WEEK: Booster Bill Morgan and the 1969 North Marshall Jets baseball team.