Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

June 23, 2013

Lehman to enter Bedford County Hall of Fame

Hyndman baseball, basketball star to be inducted Saturday

HYNDMAN, Pa. — The pitcher’s mound is center stage on a baseball diamond, so it was only natural to find Vohn Lehman there.

The Hyndman ace was at home on the mound, but also in the field, in the batter’s box, and on the basketball court, too.

Soon Lehman will have a new home, of sorts, and that’s only natural, too. He will be inducted into the Bedford County Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, at 4 p.m., during ceremonies at the Bedford Elks.

Lehman’s blazing fastball and hard-breaking curve ball made him a friend to teammates and a nemesis to opponents.

Woody Diehl has memories of both. He and Lehman were teammates in Little League, opponents in high school, and teammates again in the Pen-Mar League.

“When he first came back from the minor leagues,” Diehl said of the mid 1960s, “I was playing shortstop most of the time when he pitched for Hyndman in the Pen-Mar League. And when he pitched you could almost fall asleep out there. He was just that dominant.

“In high school, I remember he had a really good curve ball and struck out a lot of people with it. Not many kids at the high school level could hit a curve ball like the one he had.

“He had all the tools and a lot of natural ability. He was just a super athlete,” Diehl said. “He could run, throw, field, hit for average and hit for power.”

But that’s not all he could do, and that’s not all he did.

He was just about as tough on the basketball court at Hyndman, where he led the Hornets in scoring, steals and assists in 1960. He was 12th in the Cumberland Times-News area in scoring that season with 394 points, averaging 18.4 points per game.

He followed that by averaging 18.1 points as a senior and ended up with 979 career points, a total that would have been much higher had there been a three-point shot at the time.

“He could do it all — shoot from the outside, drive to the basket, and was a great defensive player,’’ said John Topper, a long-time friend and teammate in multiple sports. Topper and Lehman graduated from Hyndman in 1961.

“And he was a fierce competitor.”

At just under 6 feet tall and about 160 pounds, Lehman was never the tallest player on the court or biggest player on the field. But he was almost always the one who stood out the most.

“He’s one of the three best athletes I ever saw,” said Topper, who played baseball and basketball at Hyndman and football at Susquehanna University. His coach at Susquehanna was Jim Garrett, whose son, Jason, is the current head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

The other two that Topper lists in Lehman’s category were college teammates, John Vignone, who played for the Giants in the NFL and professional baseball for the Houston Astros, and Donnie Green, a safety who played in the NFL for the Oakland Raiders.

“Vohn was one of the finest all-around athletes I’ve ever been around. His hand-eye coordination was amazing and in baseball he could do it all, on the mound and at the plate. And he was blazing on the base paths.

“He wasn’t that big, but he was all muscle and could hit a ball a mile as well as hit for average. As a pitcher, he just had a blazing fast ball, a wicked curve and a good change, and his control was good.”

Lehman led Hyndman to the Bedford County League championship in 1959, throwing a one-hitter against Bedford in the championship game.

He played two years in the professional ranks after being signed by the Giants. He pitched for Salem, Va., in the Appalachian League in 1962 and Lexington in the Class A Western Carolina League in 1963.

A shoulder injury helped put the brakes on Lehman’s professional ambitions. When he returned home he continued, as Diehl described, to be a dominant force in the Pen-Mar, leading the league in numerous categories throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.

Lehman won the batting title with a .486 average in 1968 and was the league MVP several times, the last time being 1972. He won over 100 games as a pitcher in the Pen-Mar League, and usually played shortstop when he wasn’t pitching.

The late Bob “Rock” Bryant, a Bedford Hall of Famer himself, caught Lehman many times, and later, during his coaching days, spoke often of the hard-throwing right-hander.

“One of the best I’ve ever seen around here. I guarantee you won’t see any better,” he would tell players, reminiscing. “You could hear his fastball, sort of whistling through the air, as it came to the plate. Then he’d give them the curve, and she’d drop right off the table. Not many hitters around here had much of a chance against him.”

A limited number of tickets are still available for the Hall of Fame dinner. For more information, call Bill Creps at 814-623-9691.

Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at mmathews@times-news.com

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