Wheeling Post 1 Legends, Heroes Honored

WVU standout Grove discusses past, future

Photo by Cody Tomer Wheeling Post 1 alum and West Virginia University pitcher, Michael Grove, smiles as he is honored during Alumni Day ceremonies Sunday at the J.B. Chambers Complex.

WHEELING –Wheeling Post 1 celebrated Fathers Day in style on Sunday.

The Alumni Day ceremony was held at the J.B. Chambers Complex during the break of a double header between Wheeling and Parkersburg Post 15 and the legends of Post 1 were welcomed back with open arms.

From Charles Koehler of the 1953 team to the state championship teams of 2015 and 2016, the memories came rushing back on this special day.

One member of the 2015 state champions is making the most of his baseball career as Michael Grove returned to his old stomping grounds to celebrate with his teammates.

Grove was named National Player of the Week as a sophomore for West Virginia University during the 2017 campaign and was the Mountaineers’ go-to-guy on the mound before injuring his elbow.

The right-hander carried a 3-1 record, with 61 strikeouts, one shutout and a 2.87 earned-run-average before the injury and recently underwent Tommy John surgery. However, on Sunday he was surrounded by the people who watched him grow into the overpowering pitcher that he has become and have supported him since Day 1.

“It is always good to see these guys that I played with,” Grove said. “We had a lot of fun that summer. I know I have a lot of support coming from Wheeling and it is truly an honor to put on that WVU jersey and represent everyone here. It is really cool.”

Grove helped bring Wheeling Post 1 its first state crown since the 1988 season by recording a 3-1 record with a microscopic E.R.A. of 1.42 and 37 strikeouts in 2015. He was a key part of the success of Wheeling Post 1 baseball but his best memory is sharing the field with his teammates.

“We had a lot of success and we played the game with passion,” Grove said. “It was a great experience and it was a lot of fun to get out here and play ball all summer.”

Grove has witnessed his share of obstacles but he has learned from them and is ready to take on the next challenge and his latest setback.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs in my time at West Virginia,” Grove said. “My freshman year was a big learning curve for me but it was a fun learning curve to go through. I found out the difference between high school and the Big 12.

“Then this year came along and I was pitching pretty well but I got hurt. It is just another hurdle and another challenge but it is not something to rush. All I can do is wait on it and be patient.”

With the support of the entire community of Wheeling behind him, no challenge is too big for Grove.

Willie Clegg was also honored on Alumni Day. He was a member of the 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 teams, and is also an assistant coach for the Wheeling Central baseball team, but his greatest contribution is the one he has made to his country.

Clegg has already served two terms overseas in his 10 years in the military and will soon be deployed for his third term.

“I don’t have any official orders yet but I will be going somewhere overseas,” Clegg said. “I have spent one term in Afghanistan and one in Iraq and they are both major atmospheres over there.”

On this day, however, Clegg enjoyed the memories of Post 1 baseball and spending Fathers Day with his son.

“This is wonderful,” he said. “Some of the best years of my life were spent here playing baseball. Now I coach at Wheeling Central and it is nice to see some of my players out here playing for Post 1.

“It is also wonderful to be here with my son on Fathers Day. Anytime I can do something with my son it is wonderful. He is the pride of my life. He plays baseball, basketball and is supportive of me in everything I do.”

It was a special day for Parkersburg head coach, Mike Goodwin, as well. In a class act by Wheeling Post 1 and manager Mark Delbrugge, Goodwin’s late father, Jim Goodwin, was honored for all he did for Parkersburg baseball and legion baseball in general.

“I can’t thank Wheeling Post 1 and Mark Delbrugge enough for honoring my dad,” Goodwin said. “It was a very classy move on their part. It means a lot to the organization and the city of Parkersburg. It was a very special family moment, especially on Fathers Day.”

Jim Goodwin coached Parkersburg to the state championship in 1985 but fell short to Wheeling Post 1. Mike Goodwin was a player on that team.

A total of 45 players from past and present teams were honored during the ceremony and it was a thrill for Delbrugge to be apart of it all.

“To have these legendary guys come back (Sunday) is a special day for me and the organization,” Delbrugge said. “It was great to honor our state champions, alumni and Jim Goodwin.

“Goodwin was very special to me. He is what American Legion baseball is all about. It was a great day.”