Genuine sportsmanship is too often overlooked or overshadowed in sports. Not in the Ohio high school ranks, where a player whose team lost a state title on a walk-off went out of his way to ensure the teen who stroked the game-winner got the ball he hit to keep as his own.
As reported by the Stateline Sports Network, Minster topped Russia, 2-1, in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division IV state baseball championship game. More dramatically, the win was a walk-off, with Minster’s Jon Niemeyer scorching a two-out single that scored Jared Huelsman and sparked wild celebrations on the Minster sidelines.
In the pandemonium that followed the walk-off hit, neither Neimeyer or his teammates thought to chase down the game ball from that final play. Instead, the player who did was Russia shortstop Dion Puthoff, who picked up the game ball from that final single, put it in his pocket and intended to hold on to it as a souvenir of a magical high school run.
Instead, Puthoff eventually decided the ball had to be with Niemeyer because of his late-inning heroics. Rather than send the ball through the mail or some other backchannel, Puthoff wrote a note explaining his decision, then hand-delivered the ball to the Niemeyer family himself.
The story original came as a result of Bryan Niemeyer, the father of Jon, who posted an image of the ball and note to his Twitter account.
The gesture provided a touching bridge between the two baseball programs and two families. If they can provide a blueprint for other prep sports families around the country, we could all surely gain from it.