Enter a discussion or do research on the beginnings of Ashland County Youth Baseball League and Bill Mills name quickly surfaces. Bill Mills was the beginning. The winter of 1954, Mills was asked to build a Little League program for youth living in the Hayesville area. By Spring 1955, teams were formed, in uniforms, and ready to play ball..but opponents were scarce. Getting together with close friend and competitive arch-rival Jim Rowland from Nankin, the two constructed in 1956 the Ashland County Youth Baseball League, which eventually consisted of Hayesville, Jeromesville, Perrysville, Nankin, Polk, Rowsburg, Savannah, Albion, and Lucas. In 1958, with guidance from Bill, the Babe Ruth League for boys aged 13 to 15 was off and swinging, followed by the Hot Stove League for boys aged 17 to 17 and a summer program of girls softball.
Bill moved to Ashland from Cleveland prior to his junior year in high school and lived with his grandmother. While playing summer baseball, coach Sid Boyd immediately noticed Bill’s knowledge he and love of the game and the following year made Bill the first-ever Ashland High student coach in charge of the freshman team. Mills worked part-time for Mosher’s Clothing Store while in high school and joined the sales staff of N. Strauss & Son Clothing in 1949 – remaining with the store until its closure in 1990.
Bill’s leisure time wasn’t just on the ball diamond. He was an active member of the Jaycees (receiving the Distiusghed Service Award in 1951), a former member of the 20-30 Club, and was involved in numerous committees in his church. Bill was instrumental in raising funds to light old Myers Field, where he started a semi-pro baseball team and managed Kastan Jewelry softball team in the old City League. Bill was honored by the Hayesville Youth League in 1968.
Buster’s (nicknamed after Buster Mills of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankee fame) most recent achievement was the 1982 founding of the Ashland County Sports Hall of Fame. The first class of ten inductees took place in the fall of 1984. Bill was honored for his continuous dedication and involvement in the Sports Hall of Fame when the Board of Directors established the Bill Mills Student Athlete Endowed Scholarship in 1995 to be awarded to a graduating, college bound senior from any Ashland County high school who excels in academics and leadership, as well as athletics.
In 1954, Bill married Donna Jean Stone and, on their dairy farm (second largest in Ashland County), raised five sons and one daughter. Donna passed away this May, but Bill’s children, 16 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren keep him active along with his WAL-MART position as the ever-smiling main entrance greeter.
Bill’s philosophy in life is, “Surrounding yourself with good people makes good things happen.” But you know, good people just like being around “Buster” Mills.
Nominator: Ron Marquette
Bill Mills and his wife Donna Jean