1970 Little League, Babe Ruth teams ‘feared’

Published 12:55 pm Wednesday, January 28, 2009

By By Lowell McGill
Back in the 1970s our local Little League and Babe Ruth teams were in the midst of one of the most productive eras in the history of the leagues.
Even today some of our teams exemplify a reflection of this era. We have talented players today but not as many. Back then every town around “feared” going up against us in tournaments. And, our teams did go to many state and regional tournaments. We spent more time in north Alabama tournaments than we did anywhere else. I was involved with or exposed to tournament teams from 1955 through 1990. We can boast of having great players, teams, managers and executives in this era. Most enjoyable for me was following my own three sons in their baseball careers from the time they began minor league play in 1964
My wife and I followed them through Little League, Babe Ruth League, Advanced Babe Ruth League, high school, junior college and finally four year college.
We had two memorable events with our boys. The first thrill came in 1979 when our middle son played in the Advanced Babe Ruth World Series in Newark, Ohio. Then, in 1990 we went to Lewiston, Idaho to watch our youngest son play in the NAIA College World Series. His AUM team was edged out by one run in the final game and finished second in the nation. Our saddest moment came when our oldest son’s baseball career was cut short with a severe leg injury on the UAB baseball field at Birmingham.
Our youngest son has developed a lasting friendship with his two college coaches, Wayne Larker at Faulkner State Junior College and Q.V Lowe at Auburn University at Montgomery. Staying in very close contact with these two coaches, Bryan regularly scouts local and area players and sometimes recommends them to Coach Larker and Coach Lowe.
High school baseball coaches Melvin Middleton, Johnny Cabiness and David Brantley also had much to do with their success.
Today Murray Johnson does a tremendous good job keeping youth leagues alive. And, all those involved with T-ball today are to be credited for their efforts.
Some of those teams and managers in 1970 are as follows:
Babe Ruth
Greenlawn Pharmacy-Bill Murray and Frank Patrick…. Civitan- Willie Bruce McKenzie and Ed Ward…WATM- Weldon Vickery, Johnny Woods and Weber Walters…Martin Auto Parts-Johnny Coker and Billy McDonald.
Little League
Bank of Atmore-Gene Akins and Bobby Middleton…Lions Club-Roger Owens and Bill McMurray…First National Bank- Thomas (Famous) Bradberry and L Ledkins…Rotary Club-William Gorum…Maxwell Haley Insurance-Wesley Long and Mickey Kimmer
Minor Leagues
Bears-Floyd Adams and William and Clayton Jordan…Wildcats-Rayford and Tommy Kirby…Lions Club- Bully Brooks and Lowell McGill (who in the world is that?)
Wasps- Howard Gohagen and Jackie Sims..Beavers- Teddy Steege and Cecil Ellis.
League Executives
Ed Cole, H J Smith, Ollie Strawbridge, Robin White, Bill Hendrix, Grover Everette, Tom Kelly and Howard Shell
Yes, these fine men devoted many hours of their off time to coach, manage and oversee Atmore’s youth baseball teams. Some of these mentioned have passed on now, and many of them are still with us. I am glad I had a part in this. Some readers often ask me where my column topics come from. Well, I am sure you easily see my friends back then provided much inspiration. So, it is no problem for me to write about them as well as others and events over 50 years.
These mentioned today only cover one year. Other years will be included in future columns.
You cannot imagine how satisfying it is to write about all these wonderful people I had the pleasure to be associated with for 50 plus years. There is nothing more enjoyable for me to sit in my office at home, write columns, work a few ‘rework’ flood claims and send all this work in to The Advance and NFIP, respectively, via the internet. It is remarkable how this becomes more satisfying each day.
I like to kid some of my retiree friends. They tell me they have difficulty “keeping busy” in their retired years. I tell them to “go online” and spend time there. One of my doctors told me that keeping your mind active is just as important as keeping your body active. Some get a little upset when I mention the internet. But, I could not write these columns without it. I use it for reference, discovery, documentation, general enjoyment and, of course, earning a part time income.
A phone call from a friend, who said he was a regular reader, made me feel good this week. He told me when he opens the Advance, he always turns to page two -upper left hand corner- and reads with anticipation about people, places and events over the past 50 plus years. This is very inspiring because I want the columns to be informative and nostalgic in nature. I wish I could write in a more contemporary vein because I am sure some age groups do not identify with the ‘yester year” themes that I mostly dwell on. But, as one young lady told me, “I sure do enjoy your writing about my grandparents.” And I told her, “I sure am glad your grandparents were my friends.”
I have to put in a plug here for our “church quartet”. Sunday I thought I was listening to The Blackwood Brothers or the Statesmen Quartet at church. The pure-blending four part harmony of Jack Sharpless, Gene Hall, Hubert Brown and David Taylor sent shivers up our spines with three well known Gospel songs of the 1950s. Let me not fail to mention multi-talented Jettie Everett’s piano accompaniment. I must say she plays just like Jack Marshall (now Kentucky Fried Chicken executive) who played with the Backwoods for several years. For a moment I thought I was spinning records on “Suppertime Gospel,” the 5 p.m. Gospel Quartet program I and other DJs hosted on WATM many years ago
Next week, I’ll have more from the year 1970.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at exam@frontiernet.net

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