BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — If Mark Nell had his way, the plaque would include more names than just Mark Nell.
“It’s not about me. It’s about everyone involved. I’m just the person who represents an accumulation of people – the players, coaches, concession workers, grounds people, PA people, parents and administrators,” said Nell, who is one of four coaches being inducted into the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association (OHSBCA) Hall of Fame on Thursday, January 19.
He is the only coach from Anthony Wayne to receive this honor since the OHSBCA launched the Hall of Fame in 1972.
“It’s quite an honor,” he said.
Nell credits his late father, Howell, and his mother, Patricia, for introducing him to the game of baseball. His father was instrumental in the development of Knothole Baseball in the suburban Cincinnati area.
He also thanks his wife, Tawn, children Jordan and Madeline, brother Mike, his sisters, Linda and Trisha, and brother Tim, who passed away in 2019.
Jordan, a 2012 AW alum who is now teaching physical education at Eastwood, will introduce his dad during the Hall of Fame ceremony. Held in conjunction with an annual coaches clinic, the inductees are chosen based on accomplishments on the field, service to the association and ambas-sadorship toward the game of baseball in Ohio.
During his 37 years of coaching, Nell was active with the association, including on the All-State Coaches Poll Team.
A 1979 graduate of Princeton High School in suburban Cincinnati, Nell earned a degree in education from the University of Cincinnati while playing baseball for the Bearcats. His coaching career began at Princeton as an assistant coach in baseball, football and wrestling.
His first head coaching position was in Waynesville, Ohio, where he defied predictions of a poor first season and led the team to a league championship.
While he loved his years in Waynesville, Nell always wanted to work at the college level. Bowling Green State University’s coach Danny Schmitz gave him that opportunity as an assistant. Nell delved into recruiting, working with pitchers, catchers and outfielders, and rebuilding the team to earn four championships, two NCAA regional appearances and several players signing professional contracts.
By 1999, he and Tawn had two young children and the BGSU job was taking him away from home too much, so after nine seasons, Nell took a position teaching physical education at Wynn Elementary in Oregon, and as head baseball coach for Eastwood High School.
The next year, he accepted a job as health and physical education teacher at Anthony Wayne Junior High, where he still teaches. That same year, he took over as coach for the Generals, where for 21 years, he led the Generals to a 422-157 record, six Northern Lakes League titles, 14 sectional titles, six district titles, one regional title and one state runner-up win.
Overall, Nell’s record as a head coach was 538-192, earning him league Coach of the Year, six district Coach of the Year awards and the 2015 BCSN Coach of the Year recognition.
After the 2021 season, Nell decided to step back from coaching and Ryan Donley has since taken over that role.
“I miss the kids most of all and being on the field, preparing for the season. I also miss the competition,” Nell said. “I don’t miss fundraising, paperwork or cutting a kid. That’s the hardest part of the job.”
While retired from coaching, Nell continues to be involved in the game in other ways: providing color commentary for high school and college baseball games for BCSN and as a member of the grounds crew for the Cincinnati Reds, pulling tarps, raking the field and enjoying home games from the dugout.