The Mayville community suffered a loss in the unexpected passing of Josh Topham on May 17, but one area his presence lived on was with the Mayville 10-and-Under baseball team.
Topham, 40, was a lover of baseball and heavily involved with the program alongside head coach Jim Brown.
“Josh and I had been friends for eight or nine years prior to this season and we had coached a few years together off and on,” Brown said. “It always boiled down to how many kids there were playing. Sometimes we’d have one team and other times we’d have two teams. He’d coach one and I’d coach the other.
“These kids have been around Josh for a few years.”
This season the squad fielded 12 kids including Brown’s son Robert and Topham’s son Collin.
“This year, we had one 10U team and Collin was on the team and Josh wanted to help,” Brown said. “We had a rough start to the season, and I wasn’t sure where it was going to lead us, but we started winning games.”
Brown credited the winning culture of the program of this season to Topham and the positive influence and attitude he brought to the game.
“Josh brings out the enthusiasm in everyone,” he said. “Whenever he is around, everyone wants to go the extra mile for him and play harder and be better for him. These kids put out a lot of extra effort just because Josh was around.”
Mayville would continue its hot start, but a few games into the season everything changed for the community and for the team.
“Then Josh passed,” Brown said. “We had played four or five games, something like that, and we were doing good. I was worried about the kids’ mentality and how’d they respond to that. I sat down with them and talked things over and took a week off.”
Topham passed away due to an accident while working with his business, Josh’s Seamless Gutters, which he owned and operated since 2005.
“We went to Josh’s showing at the fire hall,” Brown said. “I invited the kids to go with me and every single one of them showed up in uniform. I think in a way, it was a good thing, I mean it was hard for them, but they understood when we talked about it afterwards even more about how coach Topham wouldn’t want them to give up on their season.
“I asked the kids ‘What do you think coach Topham would want us to do?’ and they told me he’d want them to continue playing and playing hard.”
Mayville continued its trek through the tough season in the 16-team league and eventually found itself at 8-2 to close out the season and received a wild card into the tournament.
“Our division was very competitive,” Brown said. “It was tight the entire season and had to be decided by the run differential. It was stressful for me as a coach, I wanted to see these boys make the playoffs and at 8-2 you’d think we have a great chance.
“We had to sweat it out a little.”
They found their way to the league championship game on June 21 in Cass City against the Cass City 10U squad coached by Jeremy Kady.
“We went into the game knowing it was going to be an uphill battle,” Brown said. “I know Jeremy and my boy played on his team last year, because Mayville didn’t have any baseball last year, so we went over there and played, and I knew how good they were going to be.
“I never lost faith in my boys though.”
Despite the 12-2 loss in the championship game, Brown stressed how proud he was of the team and the obstacles his players overcame.
“The kids far exceeded my expectations and Josh would have been ecstatic with how they closed out the season,” he said. “We had kids who didn’t always have a great game come up clutch for us and that helped a lot.
“I had one of the kids at the end of the season tell me, ‘We had this great season because of coach Topham.’”