Age hasn’t mattered to Yoder or to his golf game

Age hasn’t mattered to Yoder or to his golf game

A few thoughts from the week in sports …

The late, great baseball hall of famer Satchel Paige famously said, “Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”

Former Wayne County resident Dick Yoder is living proof of that.

Yoder, who turned 89 on July 29, carded his fourth hole in one a few weeks before his birthday.

If that’s not impressive enough, Yoder fired his third hole in one this past March.

“The older you get, you can play bad golf and still shoot your age,” said Yoder, who’s lived in The Villages, Florida with Sally, his wife of 69 years, since retiring there 20 years ago. “In the last two years, I’ve been able to shoot about 160 rounds at my age or under.

“I’ve always said to hit a hole in one, you have to have at least a little bit of skill and a lot of luck. I actually think getting an Eagle — two under par — is more impressive. I’ve also had a few of those.”

Yoder’s fourth career ace came from 90 yards away with a pitching wedge on the Mallory Hill Country Club’s Virginia Course, located at The Villages. His first hole in one occurred in 1986, and he had to wait until 2014 to card a second.

“I used to be a single-digit handicap, but those days are long over,” Yoder said. “I played a lot at Mohican Hills and spent a lot of time golfing with Don Hershey (Wayne County Sports Hall of Famer). I was really sorry to hear he passed away recently.”

Yoder has been around so long that he was a high school freshman when the aforementioned Satchel Paige helped the Cleveland Indians to the 1948 World Series title, the last for the franchise.

Yoder played basketball and baseball for the legendary Roy Bates at Chester High School and was part of its last graduating class in 1951. Later that year, Chester consolidated with Congress and West Salem to help form Northwestern High School.

“We had the largest graduating class ever at Chester — 23 kids,” Yoder said. “Our school was so small that we only had two sports — baseball and basketball. Most of the boys played either one or both sports.”

If our readers don’t remember Yoder, chances are they know one of his many family members. He sold insurance from 1963-97. The Yoders have three children: Wooster residents Wendy Raus and Sandy (Phil) Kline, as well as Randy (Sandra) Yoder, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Dick and Sally have seven grandchildren, and he quickly mentioned they also had another grandchild, Whitney Lowe, who passed away in 2012. They have 11 great-grandchildren. Their granddaughter Amanda (Rafferty) Terakedis is a Wooster assistant coach, along with her husband, Todd.

Sally’s dad, Paul Snyder, was a Wooster postman. He was known for whistling while he walked his route and was Santa Claus at Freedlander’s for many years.

“I was a country boy from New Pittsburg who married a city girl,” Yoder said.

Sandy Kline admitted it was hard when her parents decided to retire to Florida but has come to understand the decision.

“My parents moving to Florida has helped them live a long, prosperous life and enjoy good health,” Kline said. “They get out into the sun every day and keep moving. My mom was also golfing until a few years ago. Now she plays bridge. They come back and visit and stay in touch with all of us.

“My dad is my hero, and I still talk to him before every big decision I make. My dad came from nothing, served in the Korean War and then got his college degree. He worked 16-hour days for 40 years and was and still is a great dad. He’s lived the American dream, and I’m so proud of him.”

Yoder is still sharp as a tack and can tell you what any of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren are up to these days. He calls The Villages “Disneyland” for people 55 or older and has seen it grow from 25,000 people to 130,000. And the number of golf courses there has quintupled during his 20 years as a resident.

Sometimes it seems like all we ever read about or hear on the news is bad stuff. It’s nice to be able to share an uplifting tale like that of Dick Yoder.

“I’m having a good time and enjoying life,” Yoder said. “I’ve really been blessed.”

Barkman commits to Ohio U

Congrats to Waynedale senior Trey Barkman, who recently committed to continue his baseball career at Ohio University.

“I am thrilled to announce that I have verbally committed to the University of Ohio,” Barkman Tweeted. “First off I wanna thank God for everything. Without him I am nothing. I want to thank my teammates for pushing me and believing in me. I also want to thank coach Doc, coach Mobley, coach Gilmore, coach Giavonette, coach Rob and coach Brown for all their help throughout the recruitment process. And finally my family and friends for always being by my side. Go Bobcats!”

Barkman was the co-ace on Waynedale’s Div. III state championship baseball team, going 10-1 with a 1.72 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 69 1-3 innings pitched. He outdueled MLB second-round draft pick Jacob Miller in the state semifinals.

Parting shots

Kudos to the Smithville Board of Education for voting in late July to renew Corey Kaufman’s boys basketball coaching contract.

Kaufman, a Hiland graduate, was involved in an altercation with a student during an open gym in April. Kaufman has done an outstanding job as the Smithies coach, and I applaud the board for taking the time to thoroughly review the facts and make the correct decision.

—Best wishes to all area high school football teams this fall. Aug. 19 is one of the earliest opening dates I remember, but it’s still great to have Friday Night Lights back this week and continue a great tradition in Ohio.

Few events bring together a community like high school football.

Aaron Dorksen can be emailed at AaronDorksen24@gmail.com.