WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Darrel Chaney

2013-04-03T17:00:00Z 2013-04-03T19:47:09Z WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Darrel ChaneyMike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
April 03, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

Former Major League Baseball player and 1966 Morton grad Darrel Chaney has plenty of stories to tell about his outstanding prep career and his 11 years with the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves.

The one he likes to tell the most is not strictly of sports, but his faith and its role in his life.

"I didn't necessarily think my life was a good book, but my struggles in baseball and my strength through my faith are," Chaney said. "The title kind of is the hook that draws you in, but it is not a baseball book.''

Chaney, The Times 1966 Athlete of the Year, was a football, basketball and baseball standout for legendary coaches Maurey Zlotnik, Joe DePeugh and Jack Georgas receptively, and was a prep All-American football player.

He was drafted by the Reds in the second round of the 1966 draft.

His book, "Welcome to the Big Leagues: Every Man's Journey to Significance," was written by Pastor Dan Hettinger, a friend of Chaney's.

"This book is about your life matters, not because of what you have done or what you possess," Chaney said. "Even when things go wrong or you make mistakes, your life still matters. It matters, because God says it does."

Chaney said he rediscovered his faith during the 1972 season when his mom Ellie had breast cancer. Chaney has been a speaker about faith after his career as a baseball player, broadcaster and real estate agent.

He and his wife Cindy live in Sautee Nacoochee, Ga., about 110 miles from Atlanta.

"I had a conversation with Spark Anderson, the Reds manager, in 1975 about my purpose with the team," Chaney said. "I wanted to play more, but Sparky said my role was to be a utility player and fit in where he needed me.

"You have to accept your place. God has a plan for everyone."

Chaney talks about making the major league minimum in each of his 11 seasons and having to earn a roster spot each spring.

Chaney said his dad was his agent when the Reds selected him. He had football offers from several Big Ten schools and signed to play at Ball State because it would allow to play football and baseball.

"The Reds offered me $6,000 to sign and my dad got my scrapbook out and showed them my football feats," Chaney said. "My dad told them I could play Big Ten football if they didn't offer more.

"The scout said: 'I guess your son is going to play football.' So we signed."

Chaney played on three World Series teams, including the 1975 team which beat the Red Sox in seven games. He still remembers Boston's Carlton Fisk's game-winning homer in the sixth game.

"I was sitting in the dugout and saw it go and saw (Fisk) waving it fair," Chaney said. "I remember Pete Rose telling Sparky that this was one heckuva game."

Chaney said he was fortunate to be part of the "Big Red Machine," the team included Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Joe Morgan.

"We were the best team in that era and I was glad and fortunate to be a part of it," Chaney said. "Three World Series and one world championship. Not bad."

He said at Morton he was fortunate to play for great coaches.

"They were not the kind of guys who told you how good you were or patted you on the butt," Chaney said. "What they did was instill discipline and character in you.

"They taught you to get prepared for life."

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