By JEFF POTTS
For the Wetzel Chronicle
Hope springs eternal every spring in the City of New Martinsville.
Residents of this small community located on the banks of the Ohio River know that when high school baseball season rolls around, Dave Cisar will be in the dugout guiding the Blue Eagles of Magnolia High School.
Some two weeks ago, the 40-year mentor collected his 800th career win defeating the Valley Lumberjacks. Following Monday night's 14-0 win over Tyler Consolidated, Cisar's record stood at 812-375.
"It doesn't seem like it's been 40 years, it seems like yesterday," Cisar said. "I've been honored to have been able to coach here at Magnolia and I've been blessed to have decent health. Everyday for the last 40 years for Dave Cisar, being on the ball field has been like heaven to me. If I can make it to heaven and there's a ball field up there, I want to be on that ball field.
"We've been fortunate to have have some good players and have had a lot of support," he continued. "We've won a few more than we've lost."
Cisar summed up his philosophy this way.
"Coaching is bringing out the best in people," he said. "Sometimes my techniques might not have been that good and I'm sorry because I cared so much.
"All we ask our kids to do is play hard," he continued. "If you play hard, when the game is over and you know you gave it your best, that's pretty satisfactory if you're a competitor.
"We run a disciplined program here," he added. "We want to make the kids better baseball players, students, and human beings."
Although Cisar has always said he doesn't care about the wins, he admitted that 800 was special.
"I guess you could say 800 wins is pretty special since it means you've averaged a little over 20 wins a year for 40 years and that comes with playing a lot of large schools and a lot of good baseball schools in a lot of good baseball towns," he said. "We've been fortunate here at Magnolia to have some good players and some tough kids who were coachable; and we've brought the best out of them and they seemed to have enjoyed it."
Over the four plus decades as he has patrolled the Magnolia dugout, Cisar said there is one game that really stands out in his mind.
"I can remember the state title game loss to Oak Hill back in the late 1970's in which we were ahead 9-4 with two out in the last of the sixth inning," he recalled. "A ground ball was hit to my second baseman and the ball never made it to the outfield grass and we butchered it.
"We had a bad call, another error, a couple hits, another error, and the next thing you know Oak Hill ended up beating us 11-10," he said. "They scored seven runs that inning with two outs and nobody on because we didn't catch a routine ground ball.
Cisar admitted that the game has changed over the past 40 years.
"One of the big changes in the game is the aluminum bat," he said. "When I was growing up back in Benwood in the 50's and early 60's, all we played with was a wooden bat. Now it's all high tech, different kinds of large gloves, aluminum bats that cost between $200-500 and great Astroturf and grass fields and it have become a speed and home run hitter's game.
"Even with all that, pitchers still have to throw strikes and fielders have to field the ball," he said. "It all boils down to that."
Cisar admitted he has changed over the last 40 years.
"Sometimes I was crazy and pushed the kids, thinking I could make the kids better," he said. "But I've gotten softer.
The old hard-nosed, dictator, tough guy coach a Bobby Knight type coach doesn't exist anymore
"I was watching Rick Pitino win the national championship and he's out there hugging his guys and everything else," he continued. "I've rolled with the times, but I still want my baseball players to know that I care and we're going to do things not my way, but the right way.
"It doesn't take any talent to hustle and bust your rear-end. If you do those things and come to play and play hard, you will never short change yourself," he said. "My methods of doing that have changed a little bit. Now you have to watch what you say, watch what you do."
Cisar spoke about the rivalry with John Marshall and his relationship with legendary Monarch Head Coach Bob Montgomery, who earlier this season also surpassed the 800 win plateau.
"It's been great," he said. "It's been like two brothers playing each other. He wants to kick my rear-end and I want to kick his rear-end. After the game we'll sit and talk baseball, hockey, NBA. It's just awesome to have that good rivalry with John Marshall."
Cisar said the 2006 state baseball title was amazing.
"It was awesome. As head football coach, I lost three close state football title games (1981, 1992, and 1993) and lost somewhere in the vicinity of four to five state baseball championships as head baseball coach. It seemed like every time we got there, something special happened for the other team and something bad happened for us.
"Finally, in 2006, against Logan in the state semi-final, there was a double play ball hit to the Logan shortstop, who made a bad throw to the second baseman. The ball went all the way down the right field line and I thought that, finally, something special has happened to us," he added. "The error, bad call, or missed sign hadn't happened to us. Everybody said 'Dave, the monkey is finally off your back.' That's probably so, but it was special. It might be my only state title. But, the ride to get to the state tournament is awesome."
Cisar said he wants to be remembered this way.
"I would like for somebody to be talking about baseball in the Ohio Valley, West Virginia, and New Martinsville say 'Dave Cisar was a competitor,'" he said. "I got the best out of my kids. And if we're playing against you, we're going to compete against you, not succumb to you. Not be intimidated by you. We're going to come and play the game and have fun."