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Kropff, Rocovich, Semones and Shockley to be Inducted into Hall of Fame

Four area baseball players and contributors will be inducted into the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame at the 22nd annual banquet, scheduled for Thursday, January 31, 2013, at the Salem Civic Center.

This year’s inductees are Chad Kropff, John Rocovich, Tim Semones and Jim Shockley. The induction banquet will be in conjunction with the Salem Red Sox annual “Hot Stove” event.

Kropff is a native of Salem and a graduate of Salem High, where he was an outstanding pitcher on the Spartan baseball team. However, Chad made his name in field maintenance, where he’s one of the most respected groundskeepers in the business. He began his career at Salem Municipal Field(now Kiwanis) Field in the Carolina League and has been a groundskeeper at many sites, including Head Groundskeeper at Anheuser-Busch Baseball City in Davenport, Florida, which is the spring home of the Kansas City Royals.

Rocovich is a local attorney who has served on the board of the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame since its inception. A big supporter of baseball in the area, John has received the Sportsman of the Year Award from Play-by-Play, a monthly sports publication, and many awards as a benefactor and fund-raiser. He’s a Blacksburg High School and Virginia Tech graduate and a big supporter of Hokie athletics.

Shockley, a Hillsville native, has been head baseball coach at Blacksburg High School since 1992, where he’s won 217 games and earned seven trips to the regionals. He earned four letters in baseball in high school before going on to attend Virginia Tech, where he started a 19 year umpiring career. He also worked as a public address announcer for the Wytheville Braves of the Appalachian League.

Semones is a graduate of William Byrd High School in Vinton, where he was a standout player from 1971 to ’74. He went on to play at James Madison University, where he was a pitcher and outfielder. He won over 20 games on the mound for the Dukes and had a career batting average of over .300. He played professional baseball in the California League for the Bakersfield Outlaws.

Billy McMillon, who will manage the Salem Red Sox for the second season in a row this summer, will be the speaker at the banquet. McMillon was outstanding in high school, college and professional baseball as a player, and he’s already making his mark as a manager after three seasons. He led the Red Sox affiliate “Greenville Drive” to the South Atlantic League championship series in 2010 and did a fine job in Salem in 2012, enticing the Sox to bring him back for another season.

McMillon was born in 1971 in Alamogordo, New Mexico. He attended high school in Bishopville, South Carolina and earned a baseball scholarship to Clemson University. In his three years with the Tigers McMillon batted .382, the highest average of any former Clemson player. He was recently inducted into the Clemson University athletic Hall of Fame.

McMillon, a lefthanded hitting and throwing outfielder, spent six years in the big leagues with four different teams, playing for Florida, the Phillies, the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland A’s. He set career highs as a member of the Athletics in 2003 in games played, hits, doubles, home runs, and RBI’s. McMillon appeared in three Division Series games for the A’s against the Red Sox in ‘03.

He joined the Boston organization as a coach at Greenville for the 2008 and ’09 seasons before getting his shot as a manager with the Drive in 2010.

The Hall of Fame has also announced that Leo Wheeler of Salem will receive the Wayne LaPierre Community Service Award at the banquet. Wheeler is a long time youth coach and umpire in Salem.

The Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame was founded in 1991 and honors players and contributors from the counties of Roanoke, Bedford, Botetourt, Craig, Floyd, Franklin and Montgomery and the independent cities located within the boundaries of those counties.

The Hall of Fame building is located on the grounds of the James E. Taliaferro Complex, next to the Salem Red Sox administrative office behind the third base seating area of Salem Memorial Ballpark.

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