Gertz returning as Logan baseball coach

Paul Adkins Sports Editor

September 11, 2013

Roger Gertz is coming back for at least one more year as the Logan High School baseball coach.

The veteran coach, however, stepped down recently as the Logan High School Athletics Director and has retired from teaching at LHS.

Logan’s new AD is Brian Atkinson, a native of Beckley.

Gertz, a member of the LHS Hall of Fame and the West Virginia Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, said it was time to step away as Logan’s Athletic Director.

Gertz has coached the Logan baseball team for many years and has led the Wildcats to Class AAA state championships in 1994, 2000 and 2001 and 2A state titles in 2005 and 2008. Logan was the Triple-A state runner-ups in 2002.

Gertz has a 703-200 record at Logan – a winning percentage of .779.

The Logan baseball team won the Class AAA sectional title last year over St. Albans and Nitro but fell 5-0 at Winfield in the regional semifinals. The Wildcats finished with a 20-10 record and Gertz was reportedly mulling the possibility of stepping down as coach at season’s end.

All signs are now pointing to Gertz at least having one more year as the Wildcats’ skipper.

“I’ve retired as a teacher and the athletics director but I’m keeping the baseball job. I think they are going to let me do that,” Gertz said. “I was the AD for 17 or 18 years. I’m going to see what it’s like (just to do baseball). When you are the AD you are at the basketball games and you are there every night. I’m going to see what it is like not having all of that pressure on you. I enjoy baseball but when you are also the AD you get to the point where you are so tired. When you are the AD you have to be at the games, the girls’ games and the boys’ games. You start your day at 7 o’clock in the morning and sometimes you don’t get home until 11 at night.”

Gertz led the Logan baseball team to 12 straight sectional championships from 2000-11 before South Charleston ended the string with a 3-1 upset victory over the Cats in the 2012 Class AAA sectional final.

The Wildcats then regained the title last spring as Logan upended Nitro and St. Albans in its new sectional.

Logan expects to be good again this season, led by junior first-team all-state performer Z. Minnick, rated as one of the top baseball players in the state.

Gertz, a Logan High School and Marshall University graduate, was honored on May 3, 2006 as the Logan baseball field was renamed Roger E. Gertz Field. The then No. 2-ranked Wildcats beat county rival and sixth-ranked Chapmanville 12-3 on dedication night.

As Logan’s baseball coach and AD, Gertz oversaw the renovation project at the baseball field. The facility has had many changes over the years, from the turning of the infield to the construction project in 2001 which included a new chairback grandstand on the third base side, a new pressbox and concession stand and later a new chairback visitor’s grandstand on the first base side.

In an interesting tidbit, Logan’s seats were originally at the old Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta. The former home of the Braves was torn down at the conclusion of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. The new Olympic stadium was then converted into what is now known as Turner Field.

Gertz and his staff went to Atlanta and purchased 600 of the old seats.

Under Gertz as the Logan AD, Logan High School also renovated Willie Akers Arena and the Logan Football Stadium. The LHS softball team also got a new field and indoor building. New courts were built for the Logan tennis team.

Atkinson, an assistant principal, takes over for Gertz as Logan’s AD.

“I’m very impressed with the quality of Logan High School athletics,” Atkinson said. “I want to continue promoting them to keep Logan a leader in athletics across the state. The community is very supportive and we appreciate that.”

Atkinson is originally from Beckley.

“I was a Flying Eagle,” he said. “I went to Marshall. I started teaching at Logan High School in 1989. After the consolidation of the 90s I didn’t have a position so I went into retail and store management for about 15 years. I came back to Logan County and was in the classroom and have been an assistant principal. I’ve always had a sports background. At Beckley, I ran track and cross country and also wrestled.”

Atkinson said he hopes LHS athletics remains strong across the board. LHS has won numerous state championships in boys’ basketball, baseball, softball and tennis.

“I hope to keep us financially sound because if you are not you can’t travel,” he said. “I want to keep our programs with the success that they are accustomed to.”

The Logan baseball community had tragedy strike on Sept. 2 with the death of former all-state player Markie Dowden.

Dowden played on Logan’s 2000 and 2001 Class AAA state championship baseball teams and was one of the team’s top players. Dowden was an outstanding left-handed pitcher and was a fine hitter, too, as he hit for both power and average from the left side. Dowden was just 31.

“He might have been one of the best hitters that we ever had here,” Gertz said of Dowden. “He was very tough. He wasn’t very big but the ball jumped off of his bat. He was a good outfielder and a good pitcher for us. He also had a great move to first base.”

Dowden’s strength was legendary. He often pulled the ball foul to left field over the top of the baseball building and down to the sides of the creek bank. Many of those balls were lost in the darkness and were never recovered by the Logan freshmen ballchasers.

“We played Man here one time during school hours in 2000 and we were having a tough time with them but he hit a home run down the right field line right inside the foul pole and we won that game,” Gertz said. “He was a good hitter.”


The Roger Gertz Baseball File

Last 10 years at Logan:

2013: 20-10 (Lost 5-0 to Winfield in Class AAA regional SF)

2012: 21-7 (Lost 3-1 to South Charleston in 3A sectional final)

2011: 24-5 (Lost 2-1 to Capital in 3A regional SF)

2010: 19-12 (Lost 3-1 to Capital in 3A regional SF)

2009: 25-9 (Lost 8-1 to Martinsburg in 3A state tourney)

2008: 27-9 (Beat Point Pleasant 13-3 in 2A state championship game)

2007: 29-7 (Lost 3-2 to Herbert Hoover in 2A regional SF)

2006: 25-8 (Lost 6-4 to Magnolia in 2A state tourney)

2005: 26-4 (Beat Weir 12-4 in 2A state championship game)

2004: 21-16 (Lost 7-6 to Shady Spring in 2A state tourney)