Brian Hoffman Column 1.26.17

Mike Cromer was President of the Salem Little League for seven years. PHOTO BY BRIAN HOFFMAN


Salem’s Mike Cromer always did if for the kids, and Thursday night many of those “kids” will be there to honor him, all grown up.

Cromer will be honored with the Wayne LaPierre, Sr. Baseball Community Service Award at the Salem Civic Center tonight at the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame’s annual banquet. Four individuals, including former Glenvar pitcher Jason Anderson, will be inducted into the hall and Cromer will be recognized for his life-long love of the game and selfless volunteering for the kids.

Cromer served the youth of Salem for many years through Little League baseball, softball and T-ball. He first became interested through the late Willis Walrond, a S-R Baseball Hall of Famer. Mike started helping Willis and he ended up being President of the Salem Little League for seven years, serving as assistant administrator for District 12 from 1986-93, and volunteering as player agent for South Salem. He also served as president of the South Salem Booster Club.

Cromer was instrumental in landing the first Little League Major Boys State Baseball Tournament in Salem in 1987. At that time Salem did not have a press box at the field at the Salem Civic Center, and Mike and some other Little League coaches and administrators built it themselves.

“Several contractors donated things, along with the city of Salem,” said Cromer. “The Little League coaches were hands on in building it. After practice we’d get out there with our tools and go to work.”

A year later Mike helped bring the Little League Big League Softball Tournament to town. He was also instrumental in getting his employer, Graham-White, to donate the land where the James I. Moyer Complex now stands. That site, which is in a flood plain, was owned by Graham-White.

“I went to them a couple times to see if they could donate that land,” said Cromer, who retired from Graham-White in 2015.

Cromer and Pam, his wife of more than 52 years, are the parents of two grown daughters:  Michelle Smith (Vic) and Amy Dixon (Jason). Their extended family includes grandchildren Kate, Joseph and Jailyn.

“I’m very excited to receive this award,” said Cromer. “I never expected it. I was just doing it for the kids.”

And really, that’s what this award is all about.

110 MPH!!!

Did you see where former Salem Red Sox pitcher Michael Kopech hit 110 on the radar gun last week!! It was with a lighter, three ounce baseball, but still. .

Kopech was one of the players the Sox traded to the Chicago White Sox to obtain pitcher Chris Sale in December. He threw over 100 mph with regularity in Salem, including a pitch that recorded 105 on the gun on July 13.

All I can say is, Chris Sale better be good for the Red Sox. Boston also gave up Yoan Moncada, who looked like a future star when he played in Salem this past summer, and two other highly touted prospects.

The video of Kopech throwing the pitch can be see on Youtube. He did get a running start, but still. .


Salem basketball fans will have Saturday high school events in town the next two weeks. The Roy Stanley Tournament is at the new Cregger Center at Roanoke College this Saturday, and on February 4 the first Adam Ward Classic will be at Salem High.

This Saturday’s Roy Stanley Tournament will have four  games, beginning with North Cross against Radford in a boys’ game at 2 pm. North Cross is coached by Salem’s Ed Green, a long-time and successful coach at Roanoke College.

At 4 pm the North Cross girls will play Olympic High from Charlotte, and at 6 pm Virginia Episcopal will play the Olympic High boys. The quadruple-header concludes with the Roanoke College Club team against New River Community College.

On February 4 the Adam Ward Classic will raise funds for the Adam Ward Scholarship Fund, as the City of Salem joins forces with Salem High and the Western Virginia Basketball Officials Association to put on seven games, beginning at 9:30 am when Roanoke Catholic takes on Carlisle. At 11:15 am the William Fleming girls meet Martinsville, followed by the Fleming boys against North Cross at 1 pm.

Massanutten Military Academy takes on Ridgeview Military at 2:45 pm, followed by the Salem High girls against Floyd County at 4:30 pm. Salem and Martinsville will play a boys game at 6:15 pm and a big day wraps up with the Northside and Radford boys at 8 pm.

It will be a big event. An all-day pass is $10 and it goes for a great cause. Check next week’s paper for more information.

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