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Belle Vernon coaches again team up on diamond

Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
John Kendra (left) and Belle Vernon head baseball coach Daryl Hixenbaugh look over the coaches' notes at Jim Weir Stadium during baseball workouts on Friday, March 14, 2014.

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When Daryl Hixenbaugh was hired as Belle Vernon Area's baseball coach in October, one of the first things he did was call and old friend and confidant.

And then enlist him.

Hixenbaugh called John Kendra, who he has a baseball relationship with that goes back to the early 1970s when the two coached youth baseball together in Charleroi.

“Oh yeah, I called John,” Hixenbaugh said with a smile. “We go way back.”

And on Hixenbaugh's staff at BVA, Kendra's name is listed as “administrative assistant/scorekeeper.”

Depending on who you talk to, the role has yet to be completely hammered out.

“John will do any little job I need him to do,” said Hixenbaugh. “He will keep score for us, but he's a fountain of information.”

Kendra, 78, said simply, “I'm going to keep score. My days of coaching are over.”

Kendra put in over 20 years as the baseball coach at Ringgold and he and Hixenbaugh were also together nearly 10 years with the Charleroi Magicians in the old Mon Valley Thorobred League in the 1980s.

Their relationship forged in baseball is actually pretty deep.

They wrote a book on baseball that Hixenbaugh still uses.

“It started out as about 10 pages and eventually it was over two inches thick,” Kendra said. “Hixie has it on a CD now.”

Even as scorekeeper for the Leps, Kendra will be doing things differently. He won't be using a scorebook, instead he will be doing it on an iPad.

“We will be using the GameChanger program,” said Hixenbaugh. “Everything will be computerized and the game results will be immediately online after the game ends.”

“It is pretty neat,” Kendra said., “I like what it does. I bought my wife this iPad and its probably the best thing I ever bought her.”

Kendra, who still loves the game and says he still loves coaching, says his days of coaching are over.

“I've been around this game for 63 years,” he said. “My coaching days are over. It's time for the younger guys to do this.”

He even said that his gig at BVA with Hixenbaugh - whatever it morphs into - “is only a one year deal and that's it.”

Hixenbaugh, meanwhile, plans on getting as much out of his old friend as he can.

“I know he can't do the things he used to do, but he is still a very valuable guy,” Hixenbaugh said. “He's just nice to have around. I'm sure I will lean on him. Heck, we've always talked baseball.”

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