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For James Kercheval's family, baseball teaches life lessons

June 18, 2011|By MAEGAN CLEARWOOD | maegan.clearwood@herald-mail.com
  • Baseball is a family tradition for the Kerchevals, from left, Garret, 9; Luke, 5; James; and Jacob, 12.
Submitted Photo

For the Kercheval family, the crack of a baseball bat is filled with meaning.

"There are a lot of life lessons you can pass on through sports. Lessons tend to stick better in that format," said James Kercheval, for whom the sport is a family tradition.

Kercheval's father, Bill, played baseball in high school and college, then coached the sport at North Hagerstown High School.

Kercheval, 46, has continued the tradition with his three sons. He has coached teams for Jacob, 12, and Garret, 9, and hopes to do the same for Luke, 5.  

"We're very close. We have lots of father-son bonds, especially this time of year," said Kercheval, a former Washington County commissioner who is now executive director of the Greater Hagerstown Committee.

Kercheval's father instilled in him much of his devotion to family, a principle he said he hopes to pass on to his children.

"The cornerstone is faith, family, community and education," Kercheval said. "He taught me what means the most in life — not material things, human things. I had good grounding."

Bill Kercheval, 78, a retired school board member and United Methodist minister, is closing in on his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife, Nancy.

"The best thing I've done as a father is marry the right woman and have her as a mother," said the elder Kercheval, a father of four.

Bill and Nancy Kercheval were very involved in their children's lives, volunteering with the PTA, helping them with schoolwork and supporting them in activities.

"As they grew, we grew with them," Bill Kerchaval said. "We tried to concentrate on things that would bring them happiness."

He has seven grandchildren, whom he gets to see on a weekly basis. One of his favorite things to do with his older grandchildren is, of course, play baseball.

"He's a good granddad, still passing on lessons," James Kercheval said.

As a child, Father's Day was an opportunity to spend time together as a family, Kercheval said. He and his three siblings would take their father breakfast, and they often went camping.

"He's a very humble man, much happier to give than receive, but we always wanted to make him feel special," Kercheval said.

His boys usually wake him with breakfast in bed, although their mother, Clair, helps a bit with the cooking, Kercheval said.  

"A couple of times, I've gotten homemade gifts," he said. "They always mean a lot, but a hug is all you need."

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