Bement heroes


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The 10 best Bement athletes, courtesy prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner

1. Roy Radmaker

IVESDALE – Roy Radmaker was referred to as "the busiest athlete in East Central Illinois," in an April 1960 News-Gazette story.

Another article the same spring called him "a pole vaulter one day and a pitcher the next."

Though he dabbled in football (playing one year at quarterback as a sophomore) and was good enough in basketball to earn a starting berth as a junior, it was during the spring when Radmaker's athletic talents were exhibited for Bement High School.

He broke a 25-year-old Okaw Valley Conference record in the pole vault as a junior, helping the Bulldogs win team honors, and re-set the record again as a senior in 1961 when he cleared 12 feet.

Radmaker gained notoriety for more than his success. He was pictured in the newspaper with a caption titled, "Barefoot Roy."

He vaulted without shoes and had gotten his start in the activity "vaulting at home over my mother's clothes line pole, landing on the hard ground." He used a bamboo pole in his early vaulting days.

When it was time to play baseball, he put on spikes and was a double threat as a batter and as a pitcher. In an era when high schools played fewer than 10 games in a season, Radmaker pitched Bement to what remains as its only postseason title in baseball.

The school had a 9-4 cumulative record in baseball his final two years. The right-handed Radmaker was 8-2 with three of the wins on no-hitters.

Radmaker, who will turn 66 later this month, headlines the list of all-time Bement High School athletes.

His fame wasn't limited to high school. After playing briefly at Eastern Illinois University – where one of his teammates was future big leaguer Marty Pattin – Radmaker enjoyed a five-year stint in the Chicago White Sox farm system, where his teammates included future major leaguers such as Carlos May and Ken Frailing.

Radmaker was signed to his first professional contract after pulling off a rare double in the amateur Eastern Illinois Baseball League in 1964, leading the league in batting average (.526) and pitching (7-1 record) while playing for the Champaign Eagles that summer. It was one of two times that feat has occurred.

Following an E.I. game against Gifford-Flatville when he pounded home runs on three successive at-bats and drove in 11 runs, a News-Gazette article stated, "He has wrists which make Ernie Banks take notice."

The White Sox viewed the 5-foot-11, 165-pounder as an infielder and positioned him at third base.

He received a $3,000 bonus to sign and his monthly salary as a rookie in the Florida State League (when he batted .329) was $650.

"I was ready to do anything to sign a contract and move on," Radmaker said.

In his third year with the organization, Radmaker and future Pittsburgh Pirate player Dave Cash were the co-second basemen on the Midwest League all-star team. Radmaker led the league with nine triples and was third with 25 doubles while batting .275.

Injuries cut short his promising career and, after playing 92 games with Lynchburg in 1969, he retired from the game. Radmaker appeared in 447 games overall.

He was afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis, which has led to 10 surgeries between his two wrists, and more than 40 total operations, including his back and legs.

Radmaker is retired and living in the same Ivesdale community of 350 residents, and the same house, where he was raised. A former member of numerous area bands, he still strums the guitar and sings when the opportunity arises.

Josh Bates (graduated in 1988) – Football and track standout. Holds school records for yards rushing in a game (388 vs. Tuscola), yards rushing in a season (1,753) and career rushing yards (2,538) as well as points scored in a game (32), season (168) and career (198).

John Harshbarger (1974) – Pitched Bement to 1973 LOVC title. Later played baseball at Parkland, Illinois and in the St. Louis Cardinals' organization. As an Illini, fifth on career charts for ERA (2.92) and one of 10 UI athletes to have thrown no-hitters. In basketball, an all-conference first-teamer.

Andy Hendrix (2003) – Holds school records for career points (1,678) and career three-pointers (197) in basketball. In track, owns marks in 100 (10.8), long jump (22-8 1/2), the area's top mark in 2003, and with the 400 relay (44.6). Two-time state placer in the long jump. Was All-Area second-teamer in football and basketball.

Dave Marker (1967) – Three-sport athlete who later ran track at Millikin and Southern Illinois University still holds the school record in the 200 meters (22.1). A quarterback in football.

John Marker (1969) – Four-sport letterman still holds school record for points in a basketball game (49). A quarterback in football, his 110-meter hurdles school record (15.1 seconds) still stands. Went to Southern Illinois University and played in 73 basketball games.

Dick Rodgers (1962) – Basketball standout continued career at Monmouth College, where he set the career scoring mark (now fourth at 1,311 points) and career scoring average (now second at 19.9), playing from 1963 to '66.

Scott Stone (1976) – School's only state placer in wrestling, finishing third as a senior heavyweight, one of the few years the Bulldogs offered the sport. Also a standout lineman in football.

Tim Walsh (1988) – Earned school-record 16 varsity letters and was all-conference in three sports. Set school record for 300 low hurdles (40.4), recovered state-record 18 career fumbles in football and ranks among top 50 in state for career total offense (4,680 yards). Has school-record 23 interceptions. In baseball, batted at least .440 final three years.

Julie Walsh (1997) – Softball All-Area first-teamer as a senior, when she was fifth in the area in wins (14) and sixth in batting (.491). Besides those marks, other school records set included on-base average (.791), RBI (27) and strikeouts (226). Averaged 12.9 points in basketball and was All-Area special mention. Also played volleyball.

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