Board of Education member Cal Smith addresses head baseball coach’s contract
Editor’s note: The following is Perrysburg Board of Education member Cal Smith’s comments on the supplemental contract for Perrysburg Head Baseball Coach Dave Hall.
At the February 17 meeting of the board of education, Mr. Smith requested that Mr. Hall’s contract be voted on as a separate line item rather than be included in the grouping of spring supplemental contracts.
The motion to approve Mr. Hall’s contract was defeated. Board members Jarman Davis and Dr. Walt Edinger, voted yes. Mr. Smith opposed the contract and board member Sue Larimer abstained. She stated she “does not know the man or the situation.” Board member Gretchen Downs was absent.
Because there was not a majority, the motion was defeated.
An article in the Perrysburg Messenger Journal February 26, 2014, addressed the same contract and is reprinted following this article.
Mr. Smith’s Comments
“Most of you weren’t here when we did this last year and we sat here for quite a while and listened to people. So I would appreciate if you think I am all wet, that you listen to what I have to say.
I happen to believe there are a lot of people in this district who are not very happy. Happy voters today, they vote yes because they don’t want to hurt the kids. But they are not to happy about things that are going on; and if we ever lose those voters, we are going to be in trouble.
I received a lot of phone calls after all this stuff hit the newspapers last year. And let just say, I received quite a few more phone calls than the people that were here to take me to task.
But one in particular– this guy summed it up. He said that nothing is ever going to happen until people can speak privately and be taken seriously.
Speak privately, I believe, relates to the fear of retaliation. If you are not willing to acknowledge that exists in this district, then we have a problem.
Be taken seriously. I can tell you when I first brought up this situation five years ago. Once I found out, and it even came directly from one of the school administrators who said, ‘I’m disappointed that such and such isn’t in his personnel file.’ And she probably thought I didn’t know what that was about, but I did.
I believe at the time it was given the length and the emotional nature of the meeting, it should have been documented.
Well, there have been a lot of things and not just on Dave Hall but we found on other people where things don’t get to their personnel file, and that has to change.
In other words, this motion might be about Dave Hall but I think there is a broader issue in the school district that I am trying to address.
We have so many wonderful people who have done so much for the kids. Look at Fort Imagination– that is a $300,000 playground and if my memory serves it was built with $20,000 of city money and rest of it, we got from foundations, donations. My wife just wouldn’t stop selling bricks.
I have been told that Junior Jackets is up to 1,300 kids–I don’t know how they managed that. When I was with PABSC youth baseball/softball, we were pushing 1,000. If we would have added 300 kids, I can’t even imagine.
So there is just tremendous goodwill out there. But when you hit the school system, all of a sudden you see different faces. I mean, it becomes very political. It is just not right.
Where my experience started I think here with this is when my oldest was a freshman.
I was at the home basketball game against Southview and I saw someone that I knew from Southview. I had a nice discussion with him and Hall comes over and says, ‘hey, tell him why we made All Mid American Conference.’ Hall just kept saying we only made it because I keep the score book and made it look good. And finally, the other person said, ‘Dave, why don’t you tell Cal the truth?’
And I knew I was in trouble because I was in the middle of something here, and I didn’t want to be in the middle.
But basically, Hall went on to admit that he did not play college baseball. That he volunteered to keep the score book and if my friend was right, to shine the coaches’ shoes and everything else in exchange for getting a uniform. And he did it because he wanted to break this impression. And I don’t know if he ever put that in a school application. I asked about that five years ago and never heard back. But he has in many occasions said that to the kids.
I have been in meetings where he said that he did, in fact, play.
So, one summer here recently, one of boys was over at my house and again, this boy was a two-year letterman in football and baseball. And I don’t even know how the subject came up. I said, ‘you know Hall never played college baseball’ He just started in on it and he said ‘that explains a lot of things.’
I said, ‘what do you mean?’ Well, he is always like he has a chip on his shoulder, like he wants to show up kids. And that got me thinking of examples of what this guy has done and I think I want to lay these out here before the school board votes. I want them to know for certain what they are voting for.
There was a boy who was a very good pitcher, so good that he got a college scholarship as a junior. His parents told me that during a trip to Florida, Hall got mad at him and they didn’t even know why to this day, and he did not pitch his senior year. And after being good enough to get a scholarship as a junior. And he went on to college, and of course he was a pitcher. So he pitched. And he developed shoulder problems. Was it because he didn’t pitch as a senior? We will never know. To do things like this does not make any sense.
And this goes way back. I don’t think any people would know this gentleman, he use to own the East of Chicago Pizza in Levis Commons and he since moved away. He said when his son was playing high school baseball one day he was just leaning over the fence talking to another guy and they were talking strategy and said something like, ‘I don’t know why Hall bunted in that situation.’ Well, Hall heard him and his son never played again.
I really wasn’t going to address the people who came here last year, but I did need to mention one of them.
Again, Dan Garcia came here and mentioned that his son went to St. John’s and was disappointed because he wanted his son to play for Dave Hall. Well that is totally the opposite of what he told me. I said with him at a Maumee football game a number of years ago. And this was the incident he relayed to me, although I already knew the facts. Before a game, one of the boys was swinging a bat and another one didn’t pay any attention and got clobbered right in the head and was out cold. Dan tried to get the other coaches’ attention but neither Hall or [assistant coach at the time] Cannon could come over. So Dan got a little worried and went out to make sure the kid wasn’t shocking on his tongue or whatever. Finally Cannon saw it and came over and said, ‘hey get off the field.’ His son Derek, said, ‘don’t yell at my dad, he is just trying to help.’ That comment got Derek sent to the bench.
And by the way, the interesting thing about that, Dan was talking about his youngest son at St. John’s and wanting to play for Hall–well if you follow sports, you know that he didn’t play at St. John’s this year, he is not going to play for Dave Hall, he is actually at Bowling Green.
This stuff just doesn’t add up.
As to how someone coaches, one of the incidents I was told about as people come forward was a few years ago, he got into a kid’s face and just screamed at him that he was too stupid to play shortstop. And I ask– what kind of coaching is that? Does it explain to the boy what he is doing wrong? Does it explain what he can do to be better? This is what would happen.
The other thing something that is personal to me, and I will admit that is that I spent 12 years coaching CYO basketball. We had a team; I was no longer the coach of it, but the team was primarily baseball players and we qualified for the state tournament. And Hall said you weren’t to be excused from practice because it wasn’t a high school sponsored team. Okay. However, the year before a letter said you could be excused for playing on a team. And he changed his letter once he heard about this.
Well, be this as it may, as it is, it is his decision. One of the boys skipped a practice and went to the game. His name is Blake Schmenk, who had been All State and played at Owens and Findlay both. Well, shortly thereafter Blake was pitching at a game against Bowling Green–it was kind of a one-sided game, we were winning easily. Blake didn’t really have the best stuff and Hall just left him out there– to pitch and pitch. He threw 136 pitches. Now, those of you who follow baseball, you know that even in the Major League with grown men, you don’t have throw plates anymore and things like that. He just started looking at it at 100. The game was won–he didn’t need to stay out there. I can’t prove that it was payback for going to the CYO game but I can say, the very next day Blake was at my house, he could not raise his arm. And I was scared to death that he had a serious injury which he did not. But still, where there is smoke there is fire. There is just a lot of this kind of stuff that happens.
So if you think, okay Smith, big deal you are rambling on, what can you prove? Well again, if the people showed up and were taken seriously–if you think this guy doesn’t have a temper, there is a video, unfortunately on YouTube, showing him picking up a big bucket of ice water and throwing it up over the dugout after he was mad about something.
You can say, that was only one time. Well, at least it puts it in context with everything else that is happening. In fact, some of the people who came here last year to support him actually made the comment to me that, yeah we saw that, we were actually at that game, which I was not. We felt it should have probably gotten a couple game suspension but that is about all they were willing to say. But for that one time, okay.
I am also told by a number of parents that there was a game in spring 2012 at Maumee in which Hall and Cannon were using profanity at the kids throughout the game. And even to the point where one of the Perrysburg parents stood up and yelled at the coaches to please stop.
That game happen to be on BCSN. I called BCSN, but as I was told before, they scrubbed the film but interestingly the person I talked to knew exactly what I was talking about. That little tirade apparently made quite an impression. over there.
So, the last parts here are what I really want to focus on–people are well aware of this. Last year, I brought pictures which hardly anybody looked at showing a game against Anthony Wayne showing us giving the middle finger as a signal and the pitch obviously being thrown right at a kid.
I find that disturbing and improper. But what are the odds of just happening being caught on film? How many other times has that happened?
Well, I was told when I brought those pictures in that Hall was told if it ever happened again he would be in trouble. Last year a parent came forward and I do have his email, he was going to try to make it here tonight, but he had a surgery scheduled and I guess he is not going to make it. The same thing happened to his son– he was told apparently Hall took exception with something the other team was doing beating them by a lot of runs. He was told to throw, and he refused. And he got a good tongue-lashing for refusing.
The two things I really want to end with, and I think these are probably the worse two. I would like the other school board members to really think about it.
This made it all over the school. A young man named Matt Kruzel who graduated in 2011, an excellent pitcher, but he was in danger of not graduating. So the guidance counselor went to Hall and said, ‘hey, can you get through to this kid, he has to study or he won’t graduate.’ His response was, ‘I don’t care if he graduates, I just want him to keep winning ball games.’ This from an educator? Is this what we are going to be about?
And I will tell you right now, when you look at the Perrysburg School District and we all like to talk about how great it is and certainly it is–the first person who told me about this was actually an alumni and the second person went to St. John’s. In this day and age of media, this stuff gets around and this made us look very, very, very bad. And the alumni just happened to have a father who was a school administrator who told him, ‘no way, he must be retiring, he can’t say something like that and expect to keep his job.’ Well, here we are three years later, and we are still talking about it.
The second thing is–and I don’t know how–he will wiggle out of this but the whole deal with the CYO basketball team not being sponsored by the high school.
And I think this truly is the worst thing. Okay, don’t give an approved absence for practice to go to that - that is your perogative. However, the very next year, the young man was given approval to miss multiple practices to try out for a team that wasn’t sponsored by the high school. Talk about a lack of consistency.
But here though is what I want to leave you with. This young man tried out for a team and he made and now he was going to get a chance to showcase his skills–would he have gotten a college scholarship with this other sport–we will never know. Because after giving him approval to try out, upon hearing he made the team, Hall said, ‘that’s nice but if you go play with this team next weekend, I am suspending you for eight games and a starting position probably won’t be waiting for you when you come back.’ In other words, he might just be suspended his whole senior year. Why anyone would allow him to try out and be hopeful and then take that away? I think that is cruel. That is something I don’t want to support.
So that is my two cents worth: I have a whole lot more but I did the highlights. I appreciate your attention.”
More than 75 people attend board of education meeting
in support of Dave Hall as PHS head baseball coach
Reprinted from the Messenger Journal 2-26-14.
By Deb Buker
Parents, coaches, school district staff and former students along with the upcoming baseball team filled the Commodore Building cafeteria at the February 18 meeting of the Perrysburg Board of Education. The more than 75 people were there in support of Perrysburg High School Head Baseball Coach Dave Hall–a veteran coach of more than 29 years.
Spring supplemental contracts for the school district were on the board agenda– listed as one item for approval. Coach Hall was not included in the grouping–his supplemental contract for head baseball coach was a separate line item for board approval.
Board member Cal Smith requested that it be a separate vote prior to the printing and distribution of the agenda. However, at the Tuesday meeting, Mr. Smith recanted–requesting it be included with all spring supplemental contracts.
Regardless of the agenda change, those attending the meeting in support of Coach Hall voiced their opinions and concerns during public participation.
Superintendent Tom Hosler reminded everyone of the two-minute time limit and cautioned everyone in the room that there were young people watching and learning.
“We remind staff and board all that we say and do, we are always educators– whether you are in front of students or you are in the community or you are doing things like today–participating in this kind of an educational forum, the board’s business,” he said. “We know that we have young people who are here watching and learning. We can teach them that when we have situations where emotions may run high–and certainly education is one of those areas–we know that we can conduct ourselves in a way that our students can come away from this and say, ‘I learned something from this. People can be respectful and passionate and communicate a great message and listen and make their point. And yet do it in a good way that can solve problems.”
Parent Melissa Dimmerling was the first of nine to take the podium to address the board of education regarding Coach Hall’s contract. She asked those supporting the coach to stand while she spoke.
“Let me begin by repeating much of what I already said in an e-mail to each and every one of you. I believe it is important for everyone here tonight that we are all transparent about the truth,” she said. “I was very disappointed to hear from an administrator in another school district last week that he was approached by Perrysburg school board member Cal Smith and told that Coach Dave Hall was on Smith’s list of people to get rid of.
“I feel that I need to once again remind Cal Smith of a particular code of ethics as put forth by the Ohio School Board Association and I quote, ‘while serving as a member of my board of education, I will avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof. I will refrain from using my board position for the benefit of myself, my family or business associates.’
“When I spoke to many former and current baseball players, I heard the same thing echo time and time again–‘Coach Hall understands that I am a person before I am a baseball player. Coach Hall showed me how to prioritize the things that mean the most in my life–family, honesty, responsibility, school work and then baseball.’
“Coach Hall is a positive role model in this community. He is one of the most highly respected people here in Perrysburg, in the entire NLL and the entire state of Ohio.”
In January 2010, Mr. Smith, whose son was cut from the baseball team, registered a complaint with Superintendent Hosler regarding Coach Hall. The complaint stated that Coach Hall “acts in a discriminatory manner towards Catholic students” and alleged that Coach Hall “holds mandatory ‘testing’ of his athletes prior to the start of the season as a way of preventing participation in CYO.”
According to the investigation report, Mr. Smith also showed the superintendent “a picture captured from a BCSN video showing the Perrysburg catcher giving a profane gesture to the pitcher. Mr. Smith indicated that was Coach Hall’s signal for ‘pitch at their head.’” The photo was from 2009.
The investigation report, completed by Aura Norris, executive director of human resources and operations, stated, “at the completion of this investigation, I am hard pressed to find any of the individuals that Mr. Smith named that are able to corroborate his complaints. One area where I would caution Coach Hall is if he is indeed ever inclined to instruct pitchers to throw at batters that, although a traditional practice in baseball, should be discontinued.”
Perrysburg resident Mark Kruzel told board members that he served on the Perrysburg Amateur Baseball/Softball Commission with Mr. Smith and he continues to serve today. He described his experience with Mr. Smith as extremely positive for a long time who did a wonderful job.
“Toward the end of his reign on the board, he had an issue with a particular man being a coach,” said Mr. Kruzel. “We went through our process, we approved the coach and Cal became upset and one of his last comments was, ‘I will remember everyone who stabbed me in the back today.’
“I am a licensed high school football and baseball official and have officiated hundreds of games,” Mr. Kruzel continued. “There are a lot of bad coaches out there. Coach Hall is not one of them. From my point of view, we would not be a strong school district if Coach Hall was not here.”
Parent Karen Flemming believes the reputation of Coach Hall has been tarnished because of the attempted removal from the supplemental contract grouping.
“I can not just sit here and let a great coach’s reputation be tarnished by being segregated,” she said. “All the social media and the gossip around town. You have a man here who has been a coach to my family for three years, respectful to my son, respectful to my family. I am proud to be a Perrysburg fan when I am at baseball games. I felt I needed to address this because right now the bad news spreads faster than the good news.”
Support for Coach Hall continued when Anthony Wayne High School Head Baseball Coach Mark Nell told board members that “Dave Hall is one of the most respected coaches in the state of Ohio. He is an ambassador for baseball.”
Dr. Dalynn Badenhop addressing the board said that in 1997 when his family was considering a move to the Toledo area, he interviewed by telephone three area baseball coaches.
“Baseball is important to our family,” he added. “After I got off the phone with Coach Hall, there was no question where my boys were going to play baseball in northwest Ohio–it was Perrysburg High School.
“I can say 17 years later, Coach Hall never disappointed me or my boys when they were playing for him and subsequently. He has been there for them after they graduated from high school and gone on with their athletic careers and professional careers. I cannot say more of the man. He is an enduring person and really has been a significant person in both of my boys’ lives–I can’t thank him enough.” His son, Burke, now plays in Major League Baseball.
Parent Paul Vrzal questioned how the board of education is going to repair the damage and restore the doubt that he believes has been created with the agenda.
“I want to call attention to actions and ask the group, in my opinion, that we try to use a more appropriate level on how we communicate things that go out,” he said. “I am not going to point fingers, but I am going to say simply when one views the original agenda, you ask if it is an attempt to dispirit somebody, to insinuate impropriety, to taint or curse and basically create a mirror appearance of wrongdoing. That made me very, very uncomfortable.
“So, I will ask the board, what are your specific steps for you repairing this? What are you going to do specifically to undo what has happened here? How are we going to repair when these players, students have to hear, ‘I might not be your coach.’ What are you going to do to fix that? All of these kids are very impressionable. Mr. Hosler, you said we are always here to educate–so I will throw that back to you and ask that we do that.
“How are we going to restore the doubt that I believe this has created? I agree that it is permissible and a requirement to question leadership, to justify their actions. I simply ask that we continue to do so with respect and a level of professionalism–one that lacks any hint of conflict of interest.”
Mr. Smith responded at the board meeting saying that “this whole matter started for me when a young man wanted to watch a replay of a baseball game on BCSN–not one of my children, one of their friends.”
“I said, ‘well I was at the game and I don’t want to watch it again.’ And he said ‘no, you need to watch it,’” explained the board member. “And he proceeded to show me something that happened. If anyone wants to stay after the meeting, I will show you. I will not make comments, but I will show you what has caused my concern and will leave it at that.”
Mr. Smith also addressed Mr. Kruzel and Mrs. Dimmerling.
“First of all to Mr. Kruzel, yes, I did say that as you well know. It was in the heat of the moment and I did apologize rather quickly and I will apologize again,” said Mr. Smith. “I will agree with you that that was not one of my finer moments.
“Mrs. Dimmerling, I have known you a long, long time, too. During that brief discussion with the individual that you are talking about, the name of Dave Hall never came up. So this thing seems to have a life of its own. Believe what you want to believe but that is kind of irrelevant to what we are doing anyway.”
The board voted 5-0 to approve the supplemental contracts including Coach Hall.
In a telephone conversation following the board of education meeting, Coach Hall said it was very humbling to have received so many e-mails, Facebook messages, telephone calls from parents, teachers, past and current players, coaches and friends in his support.
“I thought this was all settled four years ago. I put it behind me in 2010. None of it is true. It is like living a nightmare, it is very demeaning. And it is just before we start the baseball season and difficult on the players,” he said. “I do what I love and that is to teach and coach kids–I am passionate about that.”
Last year, Coach Hall was inducted into the 2013 Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He had been NLL Coach of the Year seven times and Northwest Ohio Coach of the Year four times.
The PHS baseball team has captured seven NLL titles, 12 sectional and four district titles, four trips to the regionals and two trips to the state final four. He has coached 16 All-Ohio players and 60 of his players have played college baseball, three have been drafted and five have played pro ball, with two making it to the Major Leagues.
He recently retired from teaching at PHS after 32 years.
The coach said he is ready for the 2014 season.
“This will be our second year on the new Leyland Field–very exciting,” he said. “The team will be competitive this season. We have great senior players and have 32 freshmen coming out for baseball. I am looking forward to working with several new coaching staff members–we are ready to play ball.”
Athletic Director Ray Pohlman said Coach Hall is “good for the school district is good for baseball.”
“There is no doubt that Dave loves baseball. He is baseball, and that is why he is called Diamond Dave,” said Mr. Pohlman. “People may see only one side to him. Those who know him, know that he has a huge compassionate side. He shows such compassion to his students and to his athletes. He struggles with making team cuts–it hurts Dave to make cuts.”
The first PHS baseball game of the season is Saturday, March 22, against St. John’s.