Larker could sometimes be seen in Atmore

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wayne Larker paid a visit to my son, Bryan and his family a few days ago. Oddly, I was in the process of writing a column about him and his dad, Norman. His visit, thus, gave me a good lead in to this column.

Wayne, of course, is the head baseball coach at Faulkner State Community College in Bay Minette. Bryan played for him in the late 1980s.

In fact, Wayne’s coaching and influence helped Bryan gain a full scholarship to Auburn University Montgomery after his two-year stint in Bay Minette. They have had a close friendship over the years and Bryan even serves as a scout for Larker, keeping an eye out for potential good baseball players.

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Wayne sent personal best wishes to Bryan and AUM when they participated in the NAIA World Series in 1989. They finished runner up to the host Idaho team. But in one of those Series wins AUM coach QV Lowe reached a milestone in total number of wins for the Montgomery college team. QV, by the way also keeps in touch with me on a regular basis. He played his college ball at Auburn alongside Molino’s Don Sutton. Some of his Auburn pitching records still stand today.

Wayne is in his 32nd year as head man for the Baldwin County school. His teams have posted an overall record of 935 wins and 647 losses. Known as the Sun Chiefs, the team has participated in postseason play 28 times, capturing seven league championships and five state tournaments.

When I think about Wayne, I am reminded of his dad, Norm Larker, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers as well as a couple other major league teams.

But the thing I really remember about him was when he played for the Mobile Bears in the 1950s. An avid baseball fan, I read about him every day in the Mobile Press Register. I remember the Register carrying a story “Larker marries Atmore area girl”. Yes, Louise Hanks from Bratt became his wife in 1954.

Larker later moved up the ladder to the Dodgers, where he had an outstanding career. He helped the Dodgers win the World Series in 1959 and he finished second in the National League batting race in 1960 with a batting average of .323.

He was sometimes seen in Atmore back then. I particularly remember seeing Norm at Buster’s Ice Cream Parlor one time. The Advance often wrote interesting stories on him.

Register Sports Editors Vincent Johnson, and Dennis Smitherman wrote several interesting stories about Larker back then.

WALA-TV newsman Al Holman did a few sports shorts featuring Norm.

Norm died in 2006, but his major league baseball records will always be remembered.

Speaking of coaches, how about T.R. Miller’s Jamie Riggs? He announced his retirement a few weeks ago, but rescinded it a few days later, according to Brewton sources.

Recording numerous victories on the gridiron for 27 years, he is recognized nationally for his high school coaching accomplishments.

So, we say “welcome back” coach Riggs.

And still on coaches, another former Atmore man announced his retirement last week. Glenn Vickery, who has close relatives here, announced his retirement as head coach of the Daphne High School football team. Glenn also accomplished top honors at the Baldwin County school, as well as at a couple of Mobile County schools.

Yet another area coach was in the news two weeks ago. The passing of C.D. “Lefty” Anderson came as sadness to many in the coaching profession.

He died following an outstanding career in high school circles. Known as a highly successful winning coach at Frisco City back in the 1950s, he went on to equal coaching success at Murphy High in Mobile.

His son, Chuck was in the national news a few years ago as the recipient of a shark bite which took off a portion of one of his arms. The story was the main topic of many media outlets.

Now let’s take a look at some news from 1966.

Sadly, Aaron Grimsley, George Stone and Steven William Hixson passed away that year. Grimsley was a dry good merchant, Stone was Florida District Representative and educator and Hixson was a local prison warden.

The late Rev. Fred Brown was reelected to the executive board of the Alabama Baptist Convention and was serving as pastor of Presley Street Baptist Church at that time.

First Baptist called Arnold McRae and Brooks Memorial named Jack Elliott as pastor that year. Rev. Elliott came here from New Orleans and McRae was called from Cloverdale Baptist Church in Montgomery.

News about that passenger train possibly returning is most welcomed by everybody.

Hopefully, rail tracks are being restored following their disruption in Hurricane Katrina. Even more welcome news is that Atmore is being included once again as a stopover station. It will be nice to hear that train whistle again and watch those passengers “board” for trips east and west of here.

More news next week.

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