I have written articles about several Montgomery County athletes from the "good ol' days" in the past few months, and this time I am writing about someone very special to me . . . my "little brother" Gary Dale, who is four years younger than me and graduated from DHS in 1970.
When we were little kids growing up on the farm, Gary and I loved all types of sports, and we followed the high school games closely. We idolized our heroes, and wanted to be like them some day. Gary told me that he would wait near the school lunch line to see if he could get autographs from Ron Threlkeld and Winston Wilson, two of the stars on the 1960 DHS basketball team. And Gary and his best friend, Stan Weliever, had a crush on Trudy Mennen, one of the high school cheerleaders. She gave Gary a signed photo, which he treasured, but he chuckled that Stan got a photo AND a kiss on the cheek from Trudy on his birthday . . . lucky guy!
Gary and I practiced shooting at the hoop on our barn for hours on end, dodging chickens and corncobs, all year round. In the fifth grade, Gary practiced every recess with Rich Douglas, who had just moved to Darlington. During his 7th grade year, Emerson Mutterspaugh coached the junior high teams, and he started Gary on the 8th grade team. When he was in high school, Darlington had a load of talent and went undefeated during the regular season for two years, also winning the school's first sectional at Lebanon in 1969. As a senior, Gary was the starting forward and averaged 13.7 points per game, most of his goals coming from long range, and he also won the free throw award.
As much as he liked basketball, his favorite sport was baseball. The first time he pitched in Pee-Wee League, he threw a no-hitter, and repeated that feat the first time he pitched in Little League. Gary was a power pitcher in high school, but he also had a wicked curve (guess who taught him that pitch?). He pitched a no-hitter against Linden and shared a no-hitter with Don Threlkeld against New Ross. But he told me that the victory he remembered most was when Darlington defeated an excellent Crawfordsville baseball team in the sectional tourney in 1968 when he was a sophomore. As a senior Gary pitched, played shortstop, had the highest batting average and was awarded the trophy for most valuable player.
But his sports abilities did not end there. Gary also exceled in track, running the 440 yard dash and mile relay, throwing the shot put, and participating in the long jump, in which he set a school record with a leap of 20 ft. 2 1/2 inches. At the first Darlington pentathalon, which included seven schools, Gary finished with the highest number of points in the five events!
In recalling his days playing for Darlington, Gary said that winning was fun, but what he remembered most was the camaraderie of being with his teammates. "All of us guys hung out together after school and on the weekends. We spent many hours at Dan Nichols' house playing cards and Ping-Pong, cooking tenderloins on the grill, and just having fun together." Gary also pointed out all the great coaches he had, Emerson Mutterspaugh, Galen Smith, Dave Nicholson, Dick Bruner and Gren Lefebvre . . . all of whom worked with the players one-on-one to make them better. And he will always remember the help he received in baseball when a he was a youngster from Marion "Runt" Maxwell and Jim Spencer.
After high school, Gary played some basketball and softball. But today he plays golf almost every day at Rocky Ridge, and at age 69 shoots an average score in the mid-to-upper 70s for 18 holes...WOW...I told you he could do it all! Gary worked most of his life as a maintenance supervisor, first for Koch gas pipelines, and then later as head of maintenance for North Montgomery schools.
Well, that's my little brother Gary . . . but I forgot to mention that his most accurate pitch was when he threw a large rock at me one afternoon back in a field . . . and knocked me out! Maybe I should also mention that I had been throwing dirt clods at him . . . you see, I was a pitcher, too! Just two goofy farmboy brothers who got in trouble at home a few times.

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history. He writes a general column that appears in The Paper on Fridays and a local sports column on Tuesdays.