When you think of athletics in Ashland County, one of the premier names would have to be “Messner.” With the induction of Jim into the Ashland County Sports Hall of Fame, he becomes the third son from the Glenn C. Messner family to be honored.
His older brother, Max, was a charter member being inducted in 1984, the eldest brother, Dick, followed in 1988. Cousin Jack Messner was inducted in 1994 and second cousin Jennie Allerding followed in 200.
Jim was born and raised in Ashland and was active in the local little league programs. He enjoyed football and basketball at Edison Elementary and moved up to the Junior High School when the eighth and ninth grade were housed there. Jim continued with baseball and basketball at the Senior High School, which accommodated the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade levels. During his sophomore year, from 1964-65, he was the starting guard on the basketball team. Coached by the late Sam Marchio, Jim led the Arrows to a winning season during his basketball career there. In his senior year Jim was named first team All Cardinal Conference and was awarded three varsity letters.
He also played baseball for the Arrows earning three varsity letters as well. Coach Bud Plank guided the Arrows to winning seasons with Jim behind the plate, on the mound, and in the infield or outfield. This experience of playing different positions proved to be very beneficial as he went on to enjoy an interesting career in various parts of the country playing baseball and later softball. Jim, always a strong hitter led the team in home runs and batting average.
After graduating from Ashland High School in 1967, Jim went on to Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, where he graduated in 1971. During his time there, Jim played both basketball and baseball for the TU Trojans. Most important, he met his wife Angie, there!
As a freshman basketball player, Jim traveled with the “B” throughout Southern Alaska and British Columbia during Christmas break. He was awarded the “Freshman MVP” award in the tough HCC (Hoosier College Conference). In the Spring Jim also started for the Taylor University baseball team as an outfielder and batted fifth in the strong Taylor line-up. Taylor’s baseball program, at the time was regarded as one of the finest in the country and making the team was an honor, not to mention being an important part of that veteran team.
Jim went on to concentrate totally on baseball after his sophomore year and subsequently lettered all four years. During his junior year, Jim led the team to the national finals in St. Joe, Missouri. During the summers, Jim was invited to play in the CICL (Central Illinois Collegiate League), which was sponsored by the major leagues. There Jim was used as a catcher and handled among others Rich Reushell, who went on to be an All-Star for the Chicago Cubs. Jim was named All-League during this time as well as being named to the All-Star tea.
Upon graduation from Taylor University, Jim returned to Ashland and immediately became involved in the Ashland fast pitch scene. Starting with Jackman Pontiac, Jim then moved to Myers Pumps softball team and enjoyed many fiercely competitive games with Faultless Rubbermen. During his time with Myers Pump, Jim enjoyed many MVP tournament awards.
Mike Van Dine then took the helm of the Faultless softball team, and Jim finished his career with the Rubbermen. The privilege of competing in the national finals against Decatur, Illinois was something Jim will never forget. Jim made the All World team that year ironically, those national finals were held in the same stadium, some 10 years prior, where he played in the national finals with his Taylor University baseball team! During the next couple years Jim finished his career and recently was inducted into the Ohio ASA State Hall of Fame.
Jim met his wife, Angie, of 25 years, at Taylor University and has one daughter Kaley, who is currently a sophomore at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Jim and his family reside in Ashland, own and operate the Messner Insurance Agency, which was established by his father in 1935.
Nominator: Loren Green