What started off as a group of country boys wanting to play some softball grew into something much bigger.
A family in Lewis County turned what was a couple of good ole’ boys into a state power.
Then in 1979 they did the unthinkable.
The Quicks Run softball team had made the state tournament before. Win a couple games, lose two and then head home.
In ‘79, the story looked to be on a similar path, losing in the first round on Friday to the Pineville Raiders, a nationally ranked team that featured Billy Hicks and Rodney Woods who beat them the year before. Many know the two, Hicks the winningest coach in KHSAA boys’ basketball history and Woods playing college basketball at the University of Tennessee. A very athletic team the Raiders had.
Quicks Run regrouped on Saturday, won a couple of games and advanced to the next day in the consolation bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
Then they kept winning. And winning. They’d reel off nine straight wins, seven on Sunday, including beating the Pineville team that put them in that spot to claim the 1979 open-class state championship.
“Those final couple games on Sunday we didn’t even know where we were. We were so delusional with the 90-plus degree heat and everything,” Bob Iery said, a player on the ‘79 team.
On the heels of the 40th anniversary of the state championship team, this piece is to recollect them and what they meant to the area.
The Quicks Run team formed in 1966 and continued until 2002, winning over 2,000 games in their more than 30 years of existence. They claimed two state titles and won invitational tournaments with regularity. They’d win over 70 percent of their games, travelling around regionally to Olive Hill, Grayson, Cincinnati and play all weekend. In 1987, they placed in 24 of 25 tournaments they played in, winning 15 of them. The team would average around 100 games per year.
But 1979 is what put them on the map.
It helped set the bar for what they could do in the future and shoot for.
“Nobody knew where Quicks Run was, but they knew who the softball team was,” Kevin Bennett said, son of longtime manager “Mick” Bennett. Bennett played for the team in the late 80’s when he was old enough.
The competition around the area was fierce back then. In fact in ‘79, they didn’t even win their district or region, placing second and third, respectively.
In talking to the Iery’s and Kevin Bennett, they weren’t mouthy or flashy.
“We’d beat you with our bats and gloves,” Bob Iery said. “Not our mouths.”
Softball was their life on the weekends. Work Monday through Friday, then straight to softball.
“I grew up around a softball park, that was my weekend, April through November,” Bennett said.
The Iery’s were the original leaders of forming the team, having members from the family on the team throughout its existence that started in the mid-60’s. Other names followed, joining forces with some solid players from Mason County and Tollesboro.
The ‘79 team had it all. Bob and “Red” Iery collected over 3,000 hits apiece, Bob the all-time hits leader for the team. Manager “Mick” Bennett, Jerry Tucker, Howard Trumble, Phil Grayson, Harry Lewis, Tom Cox Sr., Tom Cox Jr., Billy Barbour, Larry Wills, Wendell Pollett, Gary Iery, Steve Ullery and MVP Joe Pollett were on the ‘79 team. Joe Pollett hit 13 home runs during the state tournament.
“The team had it all. Speed, power, defense. It was just a good all-around team,” Iery said.
Gary Iery was the best defensive pitcher the team ever had, according to Iery.
“He made it really tough for teams that tried to go up the middle,” Iery said.
Bennett managed the team and kept stats, he had years worth of stats.
“He could tell you how many hits anyone had,” Kevin Bennett said. “He wrote it all down.”
Bennett would make sure players on the team played hard and had good character. No one was mouthy, they just played the game and played hard.
“Their weren’t many issues. Most of the guys were good guys, when we won we won, when we lost we lost. We were a classy team and that’s what we prided ourselves on,” Bob Iery said. “We’d play some really good teams and they’d look at us like underdogs and we took pride in that. We didn’t look like we were that good but we beat most of the people we played. The memories of going around and beating teams when they didn’t expect it is something I’ll never forget.”
The show went on after ‘79, newer generations coming and going. Quicks Run wasn’t the first team to claim the state title, a talented team from Dover did it the year before, a Mason County All-Star team the year after. Harry Lewis played for all three.
“Back then, their were five or six really good teams from the area,” Bennett said. “West Union had a really good team too called Mechanic Construction. You could have a really good tournament just with teams from the area.”
As the team changed over the years due to age or other reasons, one thing remained constant though, an Iery remained on the team.
“It was a big deal to us,” Iery said. “Just a bunch of country boys that started with four families. We had one or two Iery members all the way through.”
National Softball Hall of Famer Jerry King, Ronnie Lyons, Brian “Rabbit” Littleton, Jerry Applegate and Gordon Jones to name a few who later joined.
Quicks Run later claimed another state title in 1992, joining forces with the highly talented Calvary Temple team out of Maysville.
“Sam Grayson’s teams were basically the best all-around,” Iery said. “They’d beat us nine out of 10 times.”
Later on, the teams were struck by tragedy. David Iery left paralyzed after suffering a broken neck in a baseball game for Lewis County High School.
“David was an up and comer and was fearless on the field,” Bob Iery said.
They’d play “lemon ball” at times, getting the plastic lemons from the grocery store and using it as the baseball.
“It’s like trying to hit an 0-2 pitch,” Bob Iery said. “David was one of the only ones that could hit it with consistency.”
Nearly 10 years later, another tragedy struck when Scottie Morgan was killed in an automobile accident. Following that was Mick Bennett’s passing, succumbing to a battle with cancer in 1999.
Barbour, Wendell Pollett, Larry Wills, Gary Iery and Bennett have all passed away since. Even with the tragedy and deaths, one thing is certain, the memories that Quicks Run provided will never go away.
The team is planning a get together on Iery Mountain later this summer to reminisce on the times and are welcoming anyone associated or has interest to come out with details later to come.