Highlanders in the News: Week of Sept. 11, 2023

Every other week, our Highlanders are using their education to do extraordinary things. Here, we’ll highlight some notable mentions from local, regional, national and international news media. Whether our students, alumni, faculty and staff are featured as subject matter experts in high-profile stories or simply helping make the world a better place, we’ll feature their stories.


On Sept. 3, Spencer Horwitz of the Toronto Blue Jays became the first former Radford University baseball player to hit a home run in the major leagues. (Screen capture courtesy of Toronto Blue Jays/YouTube)

Making home-run history, Highlander style

Just a few columns back, we told you about the great month that Spencer Horwitz ’19 was having.

Spencer Horwitz '19

A former Radford infielder and minor league player for the Buffalo Bisons, Hortwitz was called up to the majors on June 18 to play first base for the Toronto Blue Jays – and notched a ground-ball single in his first at-bat.

That “great month” is apparently extending itself well into the summer, according to Roanoke reporter, sportswriter and author Ralph Berrier ’89, who last week published a Facebook post about a prime moment in Highlander sports history.

“On Sunday, Spencer Horwitz of the Toronto Blue Jays became the first former Radford University baseball player to hit a home run in the major leagues,” Berrier exclaimed. “And it was a 442-foot bomb.”

During that Sept. 3 game at Coor's Field in Denver, Colorado, Horwitz’s solo run boosted Toronto in a game that culminated with the team’s 7-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Here’s an up-close look at Horwitz’s big moment, courtesy of the Blue Jay’s YouTube page.

“He’ll remember that forever,” the commentators noted of Horwitz's round tripper.

(Screen capture courtesy of Toronto Blue Jays/YouTube)

Berrier, who as a Radford undergraduate played outfield and first base, said Horwitz is only the fifth Highlander to play Major League Baseball and also marks the first position player out of Radford, meaning he is a non-pitcher who plays in the field.

Radford’s four other prior players to join MLB each were pitchers who batted infrequently or not at all.

They included Eddie Butler, who played for Radford in 2012 and later for the Rockies, the Chicago Cubs, and the Texas Rangers; Phil Leftwich, Radford’s first MLB player, who in 1990 joined the California Angels; Ryan Meisinger ’16, who played for the Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals and the Cubs among other organizations; and Ryan Speier ’13 of the Rockies.

In related news, a recent analysis on the website “Jays Journal” evaluated Toronto’s current crop of rookie players and had this to say about Horwitz and his first few months in the majors:

“Overall, he is batting .353 with a strong 1.064 OPS, three runs scored, one double, one home run, four RBI, three walks and five strikeouts. It appears as though his hitting prowess has certainly carried over from his successful minor league season right into the majors, and this bodes well for him with regards to more playing time down the stretch.

“He is probably the most consistent and reliable pure hitter among the group of rookies, which could play well when the going gets tougher near the end of the season.”

“Community” courts

About a thousand spectators turned out on Aug. 13, 2023, for the championship tournament of Charlottesville’s Tonsler Park basketball league. “I’m just happy the league is flourishing, and finally, the community can gather together around a good sport,” Radford University junior Dean Lockley told the Daily Progress. (Photo courtesy of The Daily Progress/Cal Cary)

A recent Daily Progress story about Charlottesville’s Tonsler Park basketball league said that at one point on Aug. 13, about a thousand spectators were on hand at the Cherry Street courts for its championship tournament.

One of those watching? A current Highlander – Dean Lockley, a junior from Charlottesville who’s majoring in marketing.

Hawes Spencer’s Aug. 17 story, with rich photos by Cal Cary, gives readers an extensive look at the crowded, spirited summer event.

“It’s a true community effort,” said former Charlottesville City Councilman Wes Bellamy, who oversees the league.

“There’s nothing like this in the city,” Bellamy added.

Lockley also participated as a league player, and though his team “U-Train” didn’t advance in the playoffs, he still turned out to watch the championship round.

“I’m just happy the league is flourishing, and finally, the community can gather together around a good sport,” Lockley told the Daily Progress. 

State of the art

Encaustic and clay sculpture, "Gathering." (Photo courtesy of the artist)

A local artist, writer and instructor who calls the Blue Ridge Mountains home is currently presenting an exhibition at Hollins University in Roanoke and later this month, will present a talk about her work.

Gina Louthian-Stanley, M.S. ’07, launched her show late last month at Hollins’ Eleanor D. Wilson Museum in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center. It’s open to the public and will run through Dec. 10.

On Sept. 28, at the same venue, Louthian-Stanley will present a talk, “Humanistic Geography – Uncovering a Sense of Place.”

The exhibition’s notes said Louthian-Stanley began work as a printmaker in the late 1970s and, in 2006, started “experimenting with encaustic techniques in which she juxtaposes transparent and opaque layers coupled with unique textures.”

In an email this week, Louthian-Stanley said her exhibit “is inspired by my ongoing intrigue of the natural world. Images come from observations and intuitive responses to a sense of place, a narrative of place, or a biological remembrance.

“I believe that Humanistic Geography is an intrinsic part of all human beings, and by tuning into this unique, exquisitely perceptive mirror, we can find our own inner geography,” she explained. 

The exhibition and talk are sponsored by the City of Roanoke through the Roanoke Arts Commission.

Hours are Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m.

The artist’s talk will be held Thursday, Sept. 28, from 6-7 p.m. 


Four of Gina Louthian-Stanley's encaustic paintings: Bent Mountain Marsh (top left); Blanket of Fog (top right); Early Thaw (bottom left); and Winter Waters (bottom right). Photos courtesy of the artist.

Sep 15, 2023
Neil Harvey