The Obit For Dick Schoonover

Coach Schoonover raised mood, skills
Positive outlook stood out at KSU, academy

By Jonas Fortune
Beacon Journal sports writer

Published on Wednesday, Dec 09, 2009

His greeting was the same to everyone.

''Hey, guy,'' he would say. And it never mattered who you were to former Kent State pitching coach Richard ''Dick'' Schoonover, 81, who died Monday after a five-year battle with lung cancer.

''I will miss that,'' Kent State associate head coach Mike Birkbeck said after imitating Mr. Schoonover's greeting in a phone interview.

The greeting might be a baseball thing. Legendary USC baseball coach Ron Dadeaux was renowned for greeting everyone with ''Hey, Tiger.'' The running joke was Dadeaux never knew anyone's name; he just called everyone Tiger.

Yet that is the beauty of the approach, and it was a Schoonover trait that made an impression on former Kent State baseball coach Danny Hall.

''He was never about himself and never wanted people talking about him,'' Hall said in a phone interview. ''It was always about someone else.''

And that started with a simple ''hey, guy.''

Dustin Hermanson, a former major-league pitcher and third overall draft pick in 1994 out of Kent State, probably heard the greeting as much as anyone.

Then again, so did any of the athletes who participated in more than 10,000 one-on-one private pitching lessons Mr. Schoonover offered through the Dick Schoonover Academy.

''He may be gone, but the legacy that he has left with, certainly me, and other people that he has come in contact with in his life; everyone's life is better for that,'' Hall said.

Hall, now the coach at Georgia Tech, said he wouldn't have had the success he did at Kent State without Mr. Schoonover. During the four years (1989-1993) the two were together, the Kent State pitching staff thrived.

In 1992, the Golden Flashes finished second in the NCAA with a team ERA of 2.61. The following year, they led the country with a 2.37 team ERA and finished the season with two All-America team pitchers: Hermanson and Mike Nartker.

His tremendous knowledge of pitching, and specifically pitching mechanics, helped him coach three All-Americans, 12 all-conference selections, eight all-region selections, six Mid-American Conference Pitchers of the Year, four Varsity ''K'' Hall of Fame members and three first-round draft selections in his eight seasons with Kent State (1986, 1989-1996).

Birkbeck remembers Mr. Schoonover for his positive mindset and compassionate nature.

''Schoonie's outlook on everything was always so positive,'' Birkbeck said. ''He was always in a great mood and you just felt good in his presence.''

Hall referred to him as ''real'' and ''believable'' in the way he connected with people.

''If any of our pitchers had a bad game, after talking to Schoonie, they forgot about it,'' Hall said. ''He just had that gift.''

And he shared it with a lot more than Kent State. During the summer of 1989, Mr. Schoonover coached in the Netherlands and Nicaragua. In 1991, he returned to Nicaragua to help with its Olympic team and instructed in clinics for coaches and players.

Mr. Schoonover used his talents in the prestigious Cape Cod summer baseball league as well, coaching five seasons (1994-1996, 1998 and 2003) in the proverbial hot bed for major-league prospects.

In 2003, his final year associated with a team, the Bourne Braves had the lowest ERA in the league.

By that time, he had already been inducted into the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame (1987) and Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame (1985), in part for his work as a standout at East High School. He was a four-year letter winner at East. He threw three no-hitters and helped his team to city and district championships.

Mr. Schoonover was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1949 and pitched for three years in their minor-league system. He also pitched for two seasons with Cincinnati Reds affiliates.

In recent years, Mr. Schoonover continued to provide private pitching lessons through the Dick Schoonover Academy and was a constant presence around the Kent State baseball program.

In all, Mr. Schoonover put his stamp on more than 60 players who have signed major-league contracts, including Hermanson, Eric Milton, Travis Miller, Micah Owings and Matt Guerrier.

''I have never met a more positive person,'' former Kent State coach Rick Rembielak said in a news release. ''It was never about him but the other person, even in his passing. He always got the most out of every player by making them feel as if they were the best person in the world. He had that golden touch.''

Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Redmon Funeral Home in Stow. The Rev. Arthur Cubbon will conduct a service at 2 p.m. Friday at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 3725 Kent Road, Stow.

His greeting was the same to everyone.

''Hey, guy,'' he would say. And it never mattered who you were to former Kent State pitching coach Richard ''Dick'' Schoonover, 81, who died Monday after a five-year battle with lung cancer.

''I will miss that,'' Kent State associate head coach Mike Birkbeck said after imitating Mr. Schoonover's greeting in a phone interview.

The greeting might be a baseball thing. Legendary USC baseball coach Ron Dadeaux was renowned for greeting everyone with ''Hey, Tiger.'' The running joke was Dadeaux never knew anyone's name; he just called everyone Tiger.

Yet that is the beauty of the approach, and it was a Schoonover trait that made an impression on former Kent State baseball coach Danny Hall.

''He was never about himself and never wanted people talking about him,'' Hall said in a phone interview. ''It was always about someone else.''

And that started with a simple ''hey, guy.''

Dustin Hermanson, a former major-league pitcher and third overall draft pick in 1994 out of Kent State, probably heard the greeting as much as anyone.

Then again, so did any of the athletes who participated in more than 10,000 one-on-one private pitching lessons Mr. Schoonover offered through the Dick Schoonover Academy.

''He may be gone, but the legacy that he has left with, certainly me, and other people that he has come in contact with in his life; everyone's life is better for that,'' Hall said.

Hall, now the coach at Georgia Tech, said he wouldn't have had the success he did at Kent State without Mr. Schoonover. During the four years (1989-1993) the two were together, the Kent State pitching staff thrived.

In 1992, the Golden Flashes finished second in the NCAA with a team ERA of 2.61. The following year, they led the country with a 2.37 team ERA and finished the season with two All-America team pitchers: Hermanson and Mike Nartker.

His tremendous knowledge of pitching, and specifically pitching mechanics, helped him coach three All-Americans, 12 all-conference selections, eight all-region selections, six Mid-American Conference Pitchers of the Year, four Varsity ''K'' Hall of Fame members and three first-round draft selections in his eight seasons with Kent State (1986, 1989-1996).

Birkbeck remembers Mr. Schoonover for his positive mindset and compassionate nature.

''Schoonie's outlook on everything was always so positive,'' Birkbeck said. ''He was always in a great mood and you just felt good in his presence.''

Hall referred to him as ''real'' and ''believable'' in the way he connected with people.

''If any of our pitchers had a bad game, after talking to Schoonie, they forgot about it,'' Hall said. ''He just had that gift.''

And he shared it with a lot more than Kent State. During the summer of 1989, Mr. Schoonover coached in the Netherlands and Nicaragua. In 1991, he returned to Nicaragua to help with its Olympic team and instructed in clinics for coaches and players.

Mr. Schoonover used his talents in the prestigious Cape Cod summer baseball league as well, coaching five seasons (1994-1996, 1998 and 2003) in the proverbial hot bed for major-league prospects.

In 2003, his final year associated with a team, the Bourne Braves had the lowest ERA in the league.

By that time, he had already been inducted into the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame (1987) and Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame (1985), in part for his work as a standout at East High School. He was a four-year letter winner at East. He threw three no-hitters and helped his team to city and district championships.

Mr. Schoonover was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1949 and pitched for three years in their minor-league system. He also pitched for two seasons with Cincinnati Reds affiliates.

In recent years, Mr. Schoonover continued to provide private pitching lessons through the Dick Schoonover Academy and was a constant presence around the Kent State baseball program.

In all, Mr. Schoonover put his stamp on more than 60 players who have signed major-league contracts, including Hermanson, Eric Milton, Travis Miller, Micah Owings and Matt Guerrier.

''I have never met a more positive person,'' former Kent State coach Rick Rembielak said in a news release. ''It was never about him but the other person, even in his passing. He always got the most out of every player by making them feel as if they were the best person in the world. He had that golden touch.''

Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Redmon Funeral Home in Stow. The Rev. Arthur Cubbon will conduct a service at 2 p.m. Friday at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 3725 Kent Road, Stow.



Richard L. Schoonover

Published in Akron Beacon Journal from December 8 to December 9, 2009

MUNROE FALLS -- On December 7, 2009, Richard (Dick) L. Schoonover, born October 19, 1928, lost a private, five-year warrior's battle with lung cancer while enjoying a public 'business-as-usual' life. A loving family surrounded him as he journeyed to his new home.

Dick graduated from East High School and attended Kent State University. He retired from GenCorp in 1984 and went on to fulfill his passion with baseball; his most satisfying career was coaching. In 1989 he coached the Dutch National Team and in two following years, he went to Nicaragua to coach. He spent several years as a pitching coach at Kent State University and in the summers as a pitching coach for the Cape Cod League. Dick was inducted into the Summit County Hall of Fame, Akron Baseball Hall of Fame, East High School Baseball Hall of Fame and the Dapper Dan Club.

Dick is survived by wife, JoAnn (Rich); son, Michael and wife Ramona Schoonover; daughter, Dana Lee and husband John Singer; daughter-in-law, Camille Longino; five treasured grandchildren, Sam and Taylor Schoonover and John, Alee and Luke Singer; sister, Marlene Schoonover; nieces, Gloria McCartt and Sheri Merrow; nephews, Steve and Rick Schoonover; brother-in-law, Bob Rich; nieces, Leslie Redd and Barbara Jeter.

He was preceded in death by son, Mark on September 17, 2008; parents, Fred and Irene Schoonover; and older brothers Harold, Fred and Earl.

Friends may call Thursday, 4 to 8 p.m. at Redmon Funeral Home. Rev. Arthur Cubbon will conduct service Friday, 2 p.m. at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 3725 Kent Road, Stow, OH 44224. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Stewart's Caring Place, 2955 W. Market Street, Akron, OH 44333 or St. Stephen Lutheran Church.