It was 1975 and son John was 15 years old. We won the Colt League baseball championship in Brandon that year. John was playing, and I was managing. Our sponsor was Morrison Cafeterias. There had to be a best two out of three playoff between the winners of the first half of the season - our team - and the winners of the second half. We won the first game, lost the second, and won the third on a fluke play at home. That third game was scoreless through the first six innings. We hadn't had a runner in scoring position all day until the bottom of the last inning. With a runner on second and two out, the Craig Blackburn hit a sharp single up the middle. I waved the runner - Randy Lindsey - home. The throw from the outfield was there in plenty of time, but a little up the third base line. The catcher had the ball waiting to make the tag. He must have closed his eyes anticipating a collision. Randy jumped right over him, landing on home plate - safe. The umpire had already called him out, but had to change the call when he realized there had never been a tag. There was a loud complaint from the opposing manager, but the umpire held his ground, and we won the game, 1 - 0.
The winning manager and coach always received the honor of managing the All-Star team in the All-Star tournament. So Harold Moye and I gathered the All-Stars that summer. There was Jeff Cook, Mark Sorensen, Carlos Llerandi, Johnny Berg, Darrell Mayo, Gary Moye, Tommy Anderson, Wiley Morgan, Mark Hall, Randy Lindsey, David Fouke, David Reed, Marshall Hartley, and Ricky Stephens. They were all good ball players - all 15 years old.
We won at the area level, and then at the district level, with the games all played on our home field in Brandon. Then we went to Tampa and played at North Seminole in the State tournament. We were the underdogs, given little chance. The Tampa teams always beat the teams from the county. One of the Tampa teams was so confident of winning, they already had a bus chartered to take them to the next level in Georgia. These were all single elimination tournaments up to this point. It was that confident team that we played in the final game. As I recall the final score, it was 3 - 1, in our favor. We were the ones headed for Marietta, Georgia and the Southern Regional Championship tournament. Now it was double elimination.
We were housed in the Naval barracks at Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta. There were two teams from Alabama, two from Florida, and two from Georgia. It was raining when we arrived, and continued for three days. We couldn't play ball, nor could we practice. The only entertainment for the boys was one pool table downstairs (and one cue stick) that had to be shared with the naval personnel. Needless to say, things got touchy by the third day.
It's one thing to manage a ball team when everyone is living at home. It's something quite different when out of town. Not only did I have to handle practice, set lineups, and manage the games, but I also had to arrange for meals and entertainment, handle finances, and otherwise keep the boys out of trouble. Several of the parents had made the trip too, but they were considering it a vacation and were helping very little with the team. The rain just made matters worse.
By the end of the second day in the barracks, it became obvious that something had to be done to prevent all out war. I got the parents together, and they chipped in enough money to rent several rooms at their motel for the boys. I had hoped that getting the boys closer to the parents would ease the load some, but it didn't. The parents remained content to let me deal with the boys.
Finally, the rains stopped, and the fields dried out enough to play. Once we began to play, the other problems eased up. To make up time, double headers were scheduled every day. We played three double headers in three days and went into the seventh game worn out. We had won five games and lost one. The team we were playing in that seventh and last game was undefeated. With a little luck we could have won the game. I still believe we were the better team. The final score was 5-4, as we lost, but it was the best showing a Colt League team from Brandon had ever made. We were Runners Up in the Southern Regional Colt League All-Star Tournament of 1975.
As a reward we took the boys to Six Flags Over Georgia for a day before heading home. It had been quite a run. There was a big reception waiting for us when we arrived back home. It would have been nicer to have won, but I was ecstatic that it was over and we had done as well as we had.