Bare a great person, not just great athlete

Published 11:58 pm Friday, May 6, 2022

Yes, he was a great athlete. One of the best who have played in the long history of athletics for the Coal Grove Hornets. When talking about Coal Grove sports, you automatically go to the two most talented players Jerry Fields and Damien “Pooch” Carey.

But there have been others and one such athlete was Keith Bare.

Keith died this past week at the age of 59 which is a little early for some of us to lose a man and friend like him.

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More recently people only knew Keith as the father of Adam and Alex. Others knew him as a big Coal Grove athletic booster who served several years as the organization’s president.

But let me tell you people both young and old, Keith Bare was an athlete. He was one of best basketball players the school has seen since Pooch Carey.

Former Ironton Hall of Fame baseball coach Mike Burcham once said, “You show me a good baseball player and I’ll show you a good athlete.”

Keith Bare was a good baseball player. In fact, he was a great player. He wowed the Morehead State coaching staff during a tryout, belting home runs and throwing B-Bs with his arm. He played in the North/South All-Star game and was one of the dominant players.

Coal Grove baseball coach Dave Waller and the late Bill Morgan used to take Bare to all the events including a high school home run hitting contest at Riverfront Stadium. Bare peppered the fences with home runs as he stood in the bating cage. One Reds’ player watching told Waller “I wish I could his like him. I’d be starting today.”

Waller formed a close bond with Bare. When talking about Keith he would tell people he was like a son to him and a brother to his own son Mike Waller.

I saw Keith play. I covered his games. And I’ve seen him go from a young teenage schoolboy to a man of great character. One thing you could count on when you saw Keith, there would be a big smile on his face no matter what kind of things both good and bad were going on in his life.

And that’s where my memories of Keith Bare take a turn in a different direction.

We always tend to remember someone more so because they were a great athlete, a longtime teacher or administrator, a well-know politician or anyone who made their mark in whatever the field of endeavor

But the best way to look at someone is who they are, not what they have done or accomplished.

And although Keith accomplished quite a bit as an athlete, the things he accomplished helping others during his life are things that put him in his own Hall of Fame.


Jim Walker is sports editor emeritus of The Ironton Tribune.