The Ohio Valley League has chosen one of its original members to lead the wooden bat baseball circuit into the future.
Cubb Stokes, a part-owner and past general manager of the Fulton Railroaders, was elected president of the OVL at its annual meeting in Eddyville (Ky.) recently.
Stokes was involved in the rebirth of the KIT League in 2004 and when the league played its first games in 2005. He was part of a group that bought the Fulton franchise in July of 2005 and was the Railroaders’ general manager for four years (2009-12). He has continued to help with player recruitment for the Fulton franchise, which is a charter member of the OVL, born three seasons ago.
Stokes will replace Marion’s Gordon Guess, who will remain active in league affairs as special assistant to the president. Steve Fowler will continue in his role of director of league development.
Charlie Pierce (Owensboro) was selected vice president, Tricia Noel (Madisonville) secretary and Mike Smith (Fulton) as the league’s treasurer.
Stokes said the league’s main purpose would continue to be player skills development with an emphasis on character of the group’s players and coaches as they pursue their dreams of advancing in baseball.
“With the current and future owners, we are dedicated to making the OVL one of the premier summer collegiate wooden bat leagues in the United States,” the new league president said. “We have come along way since a cold rainy February day meeting at the Fulton fire station. Several baseball enthusiasts had a dream that day and 11 years later it is still thriving.
“We have had towns come and go but, in the end, we are still providing good competitive baseball at a very low cost to the citizens of our towns and surrounding areas. Life-long friendships have been and are developed each year between the players and fans. It also shows the young local Little Leaguers, as well as the older boys who dream of being a major leaguer someday, what they need to do to reach our level.”
The OVL is currently comprised of five teams — Fulton, Madisonville, Hopkinsville, Owensboro and Dubois County (Ind.). League officials hope to add a sixth team for the 2015 season and two more for the following season before growing to a 10-team circuit by 2017.
Stokes’ passion for baseball runs deep — from growing up as a kid in Hickman with big-league dreams — to earning a full scholarship at the University of Tennessee. He played three summers in the Valley League, one of the four premier summer collegiate leagues in the early 1970s, and was drafted in the eighth round of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft by the Philadelphia Phillies organization in 1975.
He lauded widespread support of the OVL, which has made the product successful, especially mentioning fans, sponsors, season ticket holders and host families as those critical to the league’s popularity.
“Whether you have a franchise in Fulton (smallest population) or in Owensboro (largest population), you cannot survive without great support from the local fans and surrounding communities, counties and even states,” he said.
“And any size community can become part of the league as long as they have the dedication and passion for baseball that our current owners exhibit.”
To play in the OVL, one must be a member of a college (any division or level) baseball roster and have eligibility left with that team. The age restriction is 18-23.