I had an uncle in California. When I was getting ready to graduate, my uncle wanted me to go to USC. When we were out in California, he was making a video of me to send to schools and I injured him while video was running. I hit him right between the legs with the ball.
H. S.: That could be bad.
W. B.: Yes aside from the thumb, that was probably the worst one.
H. S.: Were you a mean pitcher, brush people back, they control the plate?
W. B.: Yeah, you know what; I got better as I went along. Always practice, always practice, even in the off-season. I used to have a grunt. It used to scare people a little bit. As I let go of the ball I'd grunt.
H. S.: Oh okay (laughter), even before the tennis players, huh?
W. B.: Yes, yes exactly.
H. S.: Psyching them out?
W. B.: It came out. It wasn't anything I'd planned. I wasn't doing it to intimidate them. It was just "uggggh" as I let go (laughter). Yeah, I got the hang of it. I can to this day throw underhand.
H. S.: Were you nervous before games when you were in high school?
W. B.: No, no, I can't recall. Probably when I was a freshman when it was new-not so much nervous as excited, anxious maybe because I was excited. Of course, when you were playing teams you knew were good, you might have had a little bit of nerves because you want to play well.
H. S.: Did you ever work out?
W. B.: I was always playing a sport. When it was basketball season, I was down behind Westgate shooting; or my dad would say go on, you're going to go dribbling. I would start running down the street with my dad following me in the car just to keep an eye on me. I have a picture somewhere that was taken from the car of me running and dribbling. You get a kick out of that. I would run 2 miles dribbling; somebody followed me in the car. But as far as working out with weights or exercise program, I didn't do that. It was more being active. I was very active.
H. S.: How many letters did you earn high school?
W. B.: Now you're jogging my memory. You get one each year, is that how it works if you play a varsity sport? So I played two sports so I would have letters in each every year. That would be eight letters in four years. They didn't have a reserve squad for softball but I started as a freshman at third base. In basketball, I didn't start as a freshman but I played JV and as the year progressed, I was playing more and more varsity and was starting by the end of the year.
H. S.: Your junior and senior year, you was still just playing two sports?
W.B.: Yes and that's another thing. If you look at the plaque that hangs up at the high school, the one that is just by Hall of Fame induction plaque, it says I played volleyball but I never played volleyball at the high school. The plaque says basketball, volleyball and softball. I told them years ago I never played volleyball.
H.S.: What sport did you like the best?
W.B.: That is a hard one. I love both of them, I did. If I had to say which one I was better at, I don't know how to answer that either.
H.S. Ok, we will make it even. You liked them both equally.
W.B.: Oh yes, yes I did. They both came with perks; I enjoyed them both.
H.S.: What is it about the website that you like?
W.B.: I like looking at all the old pictures. I started out looking at all of them. I found it very interesting. Then I found the sports section and I really enjoyed reading through that, especially the people that were there when I was. I remember all of them. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of something that will be around long after we are all gone.
H.S.: Yes, the web site should be around for very long time. You pitched and played third base. Did you play any other positions?
W.B.: Not really, maybe sometimes if we were well ahead we would switch around to make it more interesting.
As far as Jake's Funhouse, I do believe that my brother just came up with that name for a softball tournament that was held in the area. It was a co-ed slow pitch softball tournament. I was the only female on the team.
A couple of well respected community fans.
H. S.: You went on to college at Wheeling Jesuit College?
W. B.: Yes I did.
H. S.: That was a Division III school?
W. B.: Yes.
H.S: How did you end up going to Wheeling Jesuit College?
W.B.: I actually didn't consider a lot of them, which probably ended up being a bad idea. The summer after I graduated, I was asked to be in a summer league at USC. So my mother and I went there and stayed with my uncle who lived in California and I played in the summer league. By the end of the summer league, they actually wanted me to come to USC and redshirt my freshman year and they would offer me a scholarship my sophomore year. While we were out there, there was an earthquake. The epicenter wasn't that far away from where we were staying. That was the craziest thing I have been experienced in my entire life. That scared baby on all. I told my mother I couldn't live someplace where the earth shakes. It was awful. I had a lamp over the top of my bed that fell down onto the bed. The shaking emptied bookshelves. Also, if I decided to stay there and go to school, my family would've been back here in Ohio. I loved my uncle, but I didn't know him that well because he's lived so far away for so long. If my family was coming with me, I might have been able to withstand being out there. We came back home in East Liverpool. By the time we came back, the only college with money left for scholarships at that stage was Wheeling, so I went to Wheeling.
H. S.: You played two sports in college?
W. B.: No, just one, just basketball. They wanted me to play two but with the workload, I just didn't want to.
H. S.: I note that you aren't in the Wheeling Jesuit Hall of Fame. You have any idea why not.
W. B.: When I was a sophomore playing basketball, I had a couple of injuries. In my freshman year, it was my thigh. I was running down the floor, another girl crashed into me, and her knee crushed my thigh. That shows how much taller she was than me. I sat out one or two games. I remember coming back to play and they had both my legs wrapped because they didn't want the opposing team to know which leg to target. I remember trying to run like that, because I had big wraps because my thigh muscle was damaged. My sophomore year, I was shoved and had a hard fall and got a hairline fracture in my back. At that point, I was told I shouldn't play basketball anymore. I did play for two years-freshman and sophomore years and I had scored 882 points at that time.
Freshman 412 points. Sophomore 470 points.
H. S.: How valued where you at Wheeling Jesuit?
W. B.: Right from the get-go, I was a starter my freshman year. It didn't take long before words like "the catalyst" were being used. I was the leader. I was valued. I loved basketball, but when you're told that if you take another hard fall, the hairline could go and you could be in a wheelchair; it does make you think. I love basketball.
Former high school teammates play against each other.
AFTER SCHOOL DAYS
I had forgotten about it, I'm trying to think of the time frame. I was in my mid-or late 20s; I had two kids. We had read somewhere that in Texas they were having tryouts for the Women's Professional Softball Association-which was established like the WPA but was for softball. My mom, my 2 kids and I drove to Tennessee first and I spent a few days there with a former Olympic softball player. I trained with her for 3 days with pitching, with feeling and hitting. We traveled on to Texas, San Antonio. I remember going there and seeing women I watched on TV who had been part of that. They had the tryouts. As I'm waiting to hear whether or not I had made it, I got a letter in the mail that due to lack of finances the league was being canceled. So after going through training and try out, it was canceled.
H. S.: Did you ever think about coaching even if just a volunteer coach?
W. B.: I have, I have. The things that hold me back, I had three children at one point all involved in a sport and it was very hard in getting to all the games to see them. I have coached Little League baseball and I have coached middle school basketball for the Christian school, it was when my child was on the team. It was hard for me to consider. I would see the high school positions come open. It's hard to consider taking one of those as much as it does interest me. I had to consider that I would be missing my own kid's game somewhere.
H. S.: They had an opening last year.
W. B.: I know. My daughter's new at East Liverpool this year. She went to Christian school up until grade seven. I decided to put her in East Liverpool a grade earlier than me, just to get her used to being there and so people know who she is. Not like I did coming up in my freshman year.
H. S.: Are you saying she is better than you were?
W. B.: We're different in that she is big. She's got more power. She's got more strength. She doesn't have the quickness or agility I had. We're different but when I was in eighth grade, I don't think I was as good overall she is. I don't and it tickles me to death.
H. S.: She just plays one sport, oh, that's right, you said earlier that she plays volleyball too.
W. B.: Yes, she started East Liverpool this year and she didn't know anyone there, so she said, "Maybe I'll play volleyball too." My older daughter took her out in the yard because she had never played volleyball before and threw her the ball a few times and it was awful. I told her "you may get cut, are you sure you want to try out?" because she was that bad. But a couple weeks of practice and she picked it up and by the end of the season she was occasionally a front runner, making the paper frequently. She's got a mean spike to her and she can block because she is tall. She ended up being one of the three chosen from the eighth grade team for the All-Star game that was played. She is now signed up for the JO volleyball, which is going to run in the off-season. She can also play softball. We haven't been playing softball since we don't have any place to stick it in anywhere right now. She is like her mother in a lot of ways. When she was little, she was good at balls. I remember my dad teaching me when I was probably 5 years old how to juggle. I could juggle very well, under my leg and behind my back. That was just something all of us did around the house. We all juggle. My 13-year-old can juggle and has been able to for very long time. She is just coordinated.
OHIO VALLEY ATHLETIC CONFERENCE HALL OF FAME
Ohio Valley Athletic Conference™ Serving the Ohio Valley since 1943: Wendy Baker
H. S.: You're in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. Tell me about that.
W. B.: That was wonderful. I have a photo. Do you know who that is just looking at the face?
H. S.: Is that you?
W. B.: (Laughing) Yes, that's when I had my hair short. This is at the OVAC induction. The other person in the picture with me is Phil Niekro. I don't know if you're familiar with him or not but he was a professional baseball player. I was in the same hall of fame as that man, the same year. I was with some big names, professional athletes and then to have my kids to be present for that. It was an amazing experience.
H. S.: Do you have any idea how that came about?
W. B.: I think Dick Wolf played a role. He is a big fan and I love Dick to death. He was very supportive. He had kids my age when I was in high school. They put up that court behind Westgate. Dick Wolf was always taking care of the grounds and he would see me down there often. There would be pickup games, mostly boys, not many girls, actually mostly men. They were older, much bigger men than I was. I used to go down there and play against them. I would be down there until dark. Next thing I know there are lights on the court. I don't know if he did that for me but I utilized that court a lot. I know he was instrumental in getting lights there and that opened up a whole new vehicle and a whole lot more hours on the court for me. He is a good man; he has done a lot for East Liverpool.
H. S.: How did you find out you were being inducted into the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame?
W. B.: I was notified by mail.
H. S.: Did you know before hand?
W. B.: No. No, I was shocked to say the least. That was the greatest thing. The greatest accomplishment I have had, I think to be awarded like that.