It was a moment those attending the 2012 AAABA Hall of Fame banquet in early August won’t soon forget.
Randy Mazey, not long after being hired as head baseball coach at West Virginia University, capped an often humorous acceptance speech with a touching tribute to his father, Forrest, whose association with the AAABA Tournament dated back to the 1950s.
Unbeknownst to his father, Mazey called Forrest to the podium to give him his Hall of Fame plaque. The gesture by the longtime college baseball coach and United High School graduate brought tears to more than a few of the 600-plus sets of eyes in the audience.
“Looking back, it was a special moment. We didn’t know at that time it would be his last banquet,” Randy Mazey said Tuesday morning. “I felt he was very deserving, more so than myself, of being honored. That award stayed on his mantle. He was very proud of it.”
Forrest Mazey died Monday morning after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 71.
He left behind a lengthy local baseball legacy, from his days playing in the Johnstown Junior League and AAABA Tournament as a teenager to later coaching, managing and serving as general manager for area teams.
Mazey’s impact went far beyond the baseball field.
“Every day, we’d come home from school and we had a pretty sizable backyard. We were always playing baseball, basketball or football,” Randy Mazey said. “My dad would get home from the mines, wash off the coal dust and play ball with us until dark. Then, we go inside, head down to the basement and play hockey or ping pong or whatever we could.
“Looking back on it, I never knew what that meant until I became a father. He never took a day off from being a dad and that’s the reason why my brother and I have had a lot of success in sports.”
Like Randy, Brian Mazey was a standout baseball player with a strong track record of success playing in the AAABA, and he credits those long sports sessions with creating a competitive spirit between the family members that carried over into higher levels of athletics.
“He wouldn’t let us win from the time we were 3 years old,” said Brian, who was a junior at United when his father helped put together baseball and softball teams at the school. “It didn’t matter if we were hunting, fishing or playing cards. Even until last week, there was no way he was letting anybody beat him at cards.”
Forrest Mazey’s will and ability to win earned him the respect of everyone in the baseball community who came in contact with him, and his name will continue to impact the AAABA community.
Randy and Brian Mazey have established the Forrest Mazey Baseball Scholarship Fund to assist a AAABA player find a college team. Coaches from each AAABA team will nominate a player whose grades, sportsmanship and hard work among other characteristics exemplify the things Forrest Mazey liked in a baseball player.
The Mazey brothers will select an annual winner and present the scholarship either at the tournament or the banquet.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the scholarship fund. Checks should be made payable to Randy Mazey in care of the Forrest Mazey Baseball Scholarship Fund, 1242 Broadview Drive, Morgantown WV, 26505.