local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 previous edition

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Friday — May 21, 2004


Lars Hovey: King of the sandlot

Express Staff Writer

Wood River baseball coach Lars Hovey has been on the bench for so many games, splinters could be considered an occupational hazard.

Lars Hovey

The skipper of the Wolverines for the last 13 years, Hovey and his Hailey squad are poised to defend their State 3A title in Ontario, Oregon this weekend. Wood River opened up against Middleton on Thursday and if they won will play Timberlake or Preston at 7 p.m. tonight.

Hovey comes by his baseball bloodlines honestly. The son of the late Larry Hovey, a sports editor at the Twin Falls Times News for 37 years, Lars has seen his more than his fair share of athletic contests.

"We had front row seats for everything," he remarked.

A graduate of Twin Falls High School in 1981, Lars was a nine-time letterman in football, basketball and baseball.

A wideout on the grid and a shooting guard on the court, nonetheless, Hovey found his niche in baseball as a pitcher and third baseman. But his glory days were more hilarity than heroics.

"In baseball we went to state once, beat the defending state champion Lewiston and then it snowed five inches in Idaho Falls and they called the rest of the tournament," Hovey said, noting the irony.

His collegiate baseball career consisted of two years at the College of Southern Idaho, one year at Vanderbilt College and a year at the University of Nevada-Reno.

Despite a fastball in the eighties and a decent bat, he never really considered a professional baseball a viable career option.

"I never really felt qualified," he said. "Right after I finished at Reno, I watched Orel Hershieser get people out with an 84 mph pitch, so I guess I could have done it. But it was not really a real goal of mine. I have great memories of baseball, but I never really thought about it seriously."

With four years of college, but no degree, Hovey ended up at Boise State.

"At the start of my second year they said, We know you are having a lot of fun, but you have 187 credits – enough for a masters – you need to focus," Hovey joked.

Lars buckled down and earned a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Health.

While in Boise, Hovey got his first taste of coaching as a player/manager for the BSU club team. He also ran the Boise Gems American Legion squad.

"That was the start of it," he noted.

Hired as a physical education teacher at Wood River 15 years ago, Hovey and Norm Cook were installed as co-coaches of the first baseball team in the spring of 1991.

"I didn’t have anything to do with the inception of the program. That was Larry (Lloyd) and friends. They put it in place and then they needed a coach," Hovey said.

That was 364 games ago – 206 of them wins – and in that time Hovey and Wood River have built a tradition of excellence that has resulted in eight district titles and one state championship.

But to Hovey, a dedicated family man, the success would mean little without the support of wife, Shawn, and children, Christian, 4, and Maddie, 2. Hovey’s plans for this summer include, "catching up with the kids and family" and "dabbling in coed softball." No doubt he will put his heart into both.

We caught up with Lars at the high school on Wednesday.

JZ: What was your best pitch? LH: Probably an overhand curve. It had a 12 to 6 rotation. I developed a pretty good forkball in my second year at CSI.

JZ: What is the hardest you ever threw?

LH: 86 mph in a tryout for Vanderbilt. I went back that fall throwing 81 and they said, ‘What happened to you?’

JZ: You baseball teams have had rallying cries throughout the years. What is your favorite?

LH: Trample the weak, hurdle the dead.

JZ: American League or National League?

LH: National League.

JZ: What team?

LH: Reds. They were the front runners as a child.

JZ: Wood or aluminum?

LH: Wood.

JZ: Boxers or briefs?

LH: Boxers.

JZ: You’re on a deserted island with a boom box and five compact discs. What do you bring?

LH: Harry Connick Jr., to get ready for the concert. A lot of Jackson Browne – Running on Empty. Earth Wind and Fire. Steely Dan. The Doobie Brothers just for fun.

JZ: Do you think you are a good sport?

LH: I am getting better. One year I was at Grumpy’s after the coed softball tournament and this guy I didn’t even know said, ‘You hate to lose don’t you?’ Yeah, I hate to lose, but as far as being a fair player, I play fair. If I can lose to Filer without harming myself or someone else, I think I have made headway.

JZ: Proudest moment as a coach?

LH: I think finally winning a district championship and getting to state in 1998. It seemed to be the ultimate challenge for us. We worked so long and hard and came so close. To finally get there, I remember as being a really proud moment.

JZ: If you were the Major League baseball commissioner what would you do?

LH: Get the drug testing in place. Everyone talks about the DH, so I would at least make Pedro Martinez pick up a bat after he beans somebody. That’s only fair. Also, the parity issue has to be addressed. There has to be some parity.

JZ: All-time Wood River baseball team?

LH: That would be tough. We were talking about that recently and we figured we couldn’t win in that regard. If we left someone off we would make some people pretty mad. I know we could come up with a pretty good team, though.

JZ: What has coaching taught you?

LH: I think overall, coaching has taught me some humility, especially in those early years. It has taught me the importance of commitment and teamwork and not letting your teammates down. I think we can be proudest of the fact we can be successful in the win/loss column and still have fun. We are not taking the love of the game away from these guys. Not sacrificing that for the sake of the win column.

JZ: Where will you be in 15 years?

LH: I will just be retiring from teaching. And coaching is up in the air. Sometimes think I can do it forever. Then something will happen off the field and all of the sudden I don’t want to do it again. I would seriously contemplate giving it up if we weren’t moving up to 4A. The challenge is a little different now. It gives it more spice. Now it seems people feel if you win it all you are supposed to and if you lose you have failed. It takes the enjoyment out of it. Moving up to 4A adds new life. It’s another challenge.

JZ: What would be a perfect day for you?

LH: I think in the near future having the 4 o’clock game on Saturday and repeating as state champs, which is shortly after shooting an even par at Scotch Pines in Payette and then coming home and spending the summer with my family.


City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.