It was my first spring in Tiffin.
Almost every day when I came into work, there would be a message from a man with a bit of a southern drawl, who was calling from somewhere hundreds of miles away.
"This is Lonny Allen, Tiffin baseball," the voice would say.
Allen would then go through a list.
This player had a base hit. This player drove in a run. This guy was the winning pitcher.
It usually wouldn't take more than a minute, but Allen would read at a pace that wasn't too fast. He wanted to make sure we got everything he was telling us.
It had to take time for Allen to compile the stats, then call them in, only to read them to a recording.
But he never left the important things in the game out, and we were able to write recaps of his games with no problems.
The messages stopped once everything moved to the Internet, but there are few coaches I've talked to more over the years than Lonny Allen.
Part of that is because he is Tiffin University's Athletic Director, so anytime there is a coaching change, he gets a call from me.
I always wondered how Allen (or Heidelberg baseball coach/AD Matt Palm) was able to pull off both positions, which each have to be challenging.
So when Allen stepped down as TU's baseball coach earlier this week, I wasn't surprised, but I was sad.
To me, Allen is Dragons' baseball.
He played for Tiffin, then was an assistant. When he was hired to be head coach in 1992, it was the first full-time baseball coach Tiffin had. Those before him had also been an assistant football coach.
When asked if he expected to keep the job for a while, Allen had another word in mind.
"Hoped would be the word," Allen said. "It's something I wanted to do, I'm blessed that this has been my career path."
It couldn't have been an expected career path a few years earlier. By his own admission, Allen didn't really know where Tiffin was. Allen is from West Texas, and came to northwest Ohio from Hill Junior College, about 35 miles north of Waco.
He never visited the campus before playing here. As a coach, he never recruited a player without having him visit campus.
As a coach, his best year probably was in 2003, when the Dragons went 30-23.
"Those kids were pretty talented," Allen said.
Of course, his last year was a good one because of the way the Dragons finished. At one point they won 12 of 13 games and qualified for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament for the first time.
Allen and his players knew this was his last season - he had told them after Christmas. Senior Pat Curtin said the season changed after the Dragons dropped a four game series to Grand Valley State.
"It was his last year, and the seniors, after the State series, we came together as a team," Curtin said. "He let us know what we were doing wrong.
"It was the team coming together as one," he said.
Allen will remain on as AD. But it will be different without him being a coach. I've always enjoyed interviewing him, because he's direct. If his team plays poorly, he says that. If it plays well, he conveys that.
What will Allen miss most about coaching?
"I think the relationships you build with the players, that's the thing you miss most," he said. "When you go through an entire year, and you're spilling sweat, blood tears and you're working for that common goal, that bond is gonna be there. It makes people close whenever you're working as hard as our guys do."
Kurt Rammel, a former player turned assistant coach, put it simply.
"Definitely it's not gonna be forgotten what he's done," said Rammel, who will be an assistant on new coach Joe Wilkins' staff. "That's what we're building on. We're gonna continue to build on it."
It's clear that The A-T sports staff wasn't the only one that got Allen's message