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Koenig selected into NEO Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame

June 27, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

When Matt Koenig stepped down as Canfield's head baseball coach following the 2018 season he left behind an enormous legacy at the school.

Over thirteen seasons as bench boss, Koenig collected 242 wins. Ninety-four of those victories came in conference play as he won nearly two and a half times more than he lost. Canfield captured seven outright conference championships during Koenig's tenure. In 2011, the Cardinals reached the Regional Semifinals. One year later, the Koenig led club was Regional runner-up. The longtime coach's most shining moment happened in 2007 when Canfield claimed a Division II state crown. Thanks in part to those accomplishments, Koenig was honored as a selectee into the Northeast Ohio Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame class of 2019.

"I would like to congratulate all of this year's honorees," wrote NEOBCA secretary John Bakalar in a press release last week.

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Koenig was joined in the hall by Bob Hagner of Mapleton, Bill Goddard of Wadsworth, Don Hertler of North Canton Hoover, Bob Neff of Canton McKinley, Don Ramer of Mayfield and Medina's Dale Wyegandt. The inductees were introduced between games one and two of the NEOBCA All Star game played this past Tuesday afternoon at Akron's Canal Park. There was a gathering afterwards for the select group at Barley House in downtown Akron. For Koenig, who is a five-year member of the NEOBCA, the induction gave him an incredible feeling.

"Anytime the words Hall of Fame are involved it makes you say wow," he mentioned over the phone a few days before the big event. "It's made me reflect on a lot of accomplishments. I've been a part (of the NEOBC) for some time. There are a lot of good guys (in the NEOBCA). It's growing."

The Canfield baseball program did its fair share of growing when Koenig took over the reins in 2006. His career with the Cardinals was one of the best runs for any coach. A big highlight was when the Cardinals corralled their 800th win in school history with Koenig in charge. Of course, the outcome the coach liked the best was the 8-6 win over Springfield Kenton Ridge in June of 2007 that gave Canfield its only baseball state title. That historic victory still runs through Koenig's mind on an almost daily basis.

"No doubt 2007 was the highlight of my career," he said. "It was extremely special. We all still talk a lot even though those kids have grown up and some have kids of their own. We have a special relationship."

Koenig's Cardinals made another charge towards state title glory five seasons later but were thwarted a couple of wins shy by the slimmest of margins.

"We almost made it to state in 2012 but we were eliminated (in the Regional finals) on a walk-off homer," Koenig said. "That was a huge disappointment and probably my hardest loss."

Although Koenig stepped away from the baseball team prior to the start of the 2019 campaign, it didn't mean he was totally eliminating himself from the program. He followed intently as Canfield ran roughshod over the All American Conference's Red Tier this season with an unbeaten league record. He was also cheering on the Cardinals and new head coach Gary Knittle as they advanced into the District finals.

"I'm still a huge fan and enjoyed watching them win this year," Koenig said.

Some may think retirement from coaching means Koenig has all the time in the world to hang out at the ball yard and watch the current crop of Cards compete. The former team leader insists that's not the case, however. He and his wife of 16 years, Susanne, have two girls, Mackenzie and Marina and one boy Cameron. All three Koenig kids keep Matt and Susanne hustling throughout the busy week.

"We have our hands full," Koenig said. "Our oldest daughter (Mackenzie) is going to be a freshman and all three kids play sports, so it was the right time to step down (from coaching). I still miss it though."

While Koenig may miss being as involved as he once was with Canfield baseball, the NEOBCA didn't miss the chance to include him in its hallowed Hall of Fame. It's doubtful that anyone in the Canfield baseball community would disagree with that organization's decision to enshrine him.



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