Forest Hills Lanes
Led by starts like MVP Clancy Horn, Rod Shives, Don Cox and Jim Schleicher, Paul Bell’s Forest Hills Lanes squad ran the table on the 74-team field in Tullahoma, Tennessee, going 7-0 to claim the 1976 World Class B Title.
“I don’t think they players really realize what they’ve done,” manager Bell said in a newspaper interview after that momentous win a quarter century ago. Now, 25 years later, they’ve had time to dwell on their accomplishment, and it’s a safe bet those players fully appreciate their feat.
Throughout their 80-20 season, Forest Hills Lanes benefitted from competing against some excellent competition in the elite Forest Hills Diamonds League and up in Beloit, Wisconsin.
Playing against teams like Diamond Bar, Cypress, Huddle Corner and Thurmers, they went 15-0 in the Forest Hills League and 13-4 in Beloit. In tournament play, Forest Hills was 52-16. Besides the USSSA B World, Forest Hills won tournaments in Milwaukee, Kenosha, Berlin and Rockford, as well as finishing second twice and third three times.
The team believed that defense would take them to the championship. With Cox’s cerebral pitching and workhorse stamina, and Shives’s athleticism at shortstop, Forest Hills often frustrated the best offenses.
They were also mentally tough. In the USSSA Regionals in Red Bud that year, Forest Hills proved their mettle by winning seven straight games over an 11-hour period after falling into the loser’s bracket. They finished second, qualifying for the World Tournament.
Now, as then, the spotlight belongs on Paul Bell, Clancy Horn, Rod Shives, Hank Stenecki, Dan Brown, Don Cox, Jim Schleicher, Jim Rumple, Ken Franzen, Ed Foreman, Randy Torgerson, L.T. Graham, Dough Hansen and Tim Fetters.
Together, they carved out a little piece of history 25 years ago, one that is theirs to keep as evidence of a special accomplishment that can never be taken away from them.