Tuskegee Hosts First Baseball Alumni Classic
Tuskegee Institute, Alabama Tuskegee University under the leadership of first year Head Baseball Coach Reggie Hollins hosted its first Tuskegee University Alumni Baseball Classic, October 21, 2016, during the homecoming festivities at the historic university in East Alabama.
Hollins, a 2010 graduate of Tuskegee University, where he starred as a middle infielder for the Golden Tigers, took over the helm of the Tuskegee program this summer from Montressa Kirby, who had been doubling as the quarterback coach on the highly rated Tuskegee football team since 2009.
The move freed Kirby to concentrate on his role as quarterback coach. Hollins, a product of Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta, Georgia, wasted little time in getting his program off to a roaring start. He organized the first ever Alumni Baseball Classic and brought together former players from 1969 through 2015 to give his current players an opportunity to talk with the athletes who had made the Tuskegee Baseball Program one of the top programs in the nation in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
About 150 fans in town for Tuskegee’s 135th homecoming, turned out to watch the current team compete against the old-timers on James Washington Field. The baseball park on campus is named for the school’s first baseball coach and brother of the school’s first principle, the legendary educator, Booker T. Washington. Washington field was laid out in 1894 by its namesake and William Clarence Matthews, the university’s first shortstop and a 2013 inductee into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Tuskegee team currently plays its home games in a former minor league ball park in Montgomery, Alabama. President Brian L. Johnson dropped by the game and pledged his support for bringing baseball back to campus by making improvements to the field and building a state of the art baseball facility.
“I can get it done with $700,000; we could do a little more if we had a million dollars. We are going to bring baseball back to Washington Field,” Johnson said.
In recent years, the Tuskegee baseball program has not exhibited the caliber of play of previous generations. Coach Hollins said he wanted to bring current players into contact with baseball alumni who had set a high standard for Tuskegee baseball.
“Look around you,” Coach Hollins told his current team and alumni players following the game. “I planned this game so the current players could get to see the alumni and so that the alumni could get to see the current Golden Tigers. These are some good young men, doing the right things, now that you have seen them, I hope you will get involved and support what we are doing in Tuskegee baseball,” Hollins said.
Indeed, it was an excellent opportunity for the current players to talk with alumni about things other than baseball. One current player, Ryan Green, a junior from Westlake High School, in the metro Atlanta area, wanted to know how he could parlay his Engineering Degree from Tuskegee into a career as a lawyer.
Green, the team’s right fielder posed the question to a 1971-73 Tuskegee right fielder, a retired lawyer. It was suggested to him that he could practice construction law. You could see a light bulb go off inside his head. The two men agreed to keep in contact as Green pursues his career goals.
The game was won by the current Golden Tigers 9-4. Coach Hollins said he is pleased with the progress of his team thus far in fall practice. He said that his catcher Ron McGee played particularly well in the Alumni Classic. McGee threw out three base runners.
The old-timers Most Valuable Player was the designated hitter. He went 2 for 2, with one stolen base, two runs scored and one RBI. The designated hitter just happens to be the person whose words you are reading. Joe Colvin from the 1972 team drove in one run and Stephen Duval from the 1973 SIAC Championship team scored on a bases loaded walk.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0siTZMkBTx7RjhmMTgtX2FiblU/view. Click the link to view Harvey’s bases loaded blast to left center.
In addition to being the conference champions, the ’73 team beat the SIAC All-Stars 2-1 in old Herndon Stadium in Atlanta. This was the only All-Star game in SIAC history. They went on to compete in the NCAA Mid-East Regional Tournament.
The oldest alumni playing in the Tuskegee Baseball Classic were 66 year old Joe Colvin, 66 year old Stephen Duval, 65 year old Harold Michael Harvey, 65 year old Richard “Buck” Shaw, the university’s first Major League Baseball draftee (St. Louis Cardinals) and 63 year old McArthur “Spook” Shivers.
Hollins said he plans to make the alumni classic an annual event.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael Harvey. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.