American Legion holds successful season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 29, 2004

AHOSKIE – The most successful season since the resurrection of American Legion baseball in Ahoskie recently concluded.

The Post 102 Senior Team won a playoff series for the first time since the days of Jim &uot;Catfish&uot; Hunter when they upset top-seeded Rocky Mount three games to two in the first round of the playoffs.

&uot;It meant a lot to me, because of the year we had this year,&uot; fifth-year skipper Randy Whitaker said. &uot;I felt we should have done a little better in the conference, but we really came through in the playoffs.

&uot;Rocky Mount is a good team and to be able to beat them in the first round of the playoffs was a big step for this program,&uot; he continued. &uot;It is something we will be able to build on next year.&uot;

Whitaker said the change that made the difference in the playoffs was simple.

&uot;The biggest thing in the playoff series is that we made routine plays,&uot; he said. &uot;We struggled with that during the season and opened up too many long innings.&uot;

While he was pleased with the season-ending upset of Rocky Mount, Whitaker said the best part of the year was the team itself.

&uot;Basically, I appreciated the attitude of the kids,&uot; he said. &uot;They came out every game and played hard and that is all you can ask.&uot;

Asked about how he viewed American Legion baseball in his dual role as a high school baseball coach, Whitaker said the summer league was important.

&uot;The big benefit is some of your kids have a chance to play during the summer,&uot; he said. &uot;They get exposure to a league that is very competitive and that only helps them get better.

&uot;If you look at it, the kids had the opportunity to play 30 more games this season,&uot; he added. &uot;The other key area is that it gives them a chance to do something organized during the summer and not be places they shouldn’t. They not only have the opportunity to be better ball players, they can learn to be better people as well.&uot;

The coach said he was appreciative of all the help he received from the American Legion, Athletic Director Wayne Meeks and the baseball committee as well as from assistant coach Robert Kravitz and the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary.

&uot;This is the second year I’ve had Coach Kravitz with me in American Legion,&uot; Whitaker said. &uot;He does a great job calling the ballgame and did an exceptional job against Rocky Mount. He helped us keep them off balance the entire series.

&uot;Also, I can’t say enough about Wayne Meeks and all the other people from the American Legion and what they do to provide baseball for the area,&uot; he said. &uot;If it wasn’t for their hard work, we wouldn’t have a legion team.

&uot;In addition, I am thankful for the work of the Ladies Auxiliary and everything they do in providing a concession stand for the games,&uot; he added.

Another key element in the success of American Legion baseball in the Roanoke-Chowan area is the business community.

&uot;I would like to thank all those who bough advertisements in the program and who gave donations for the baseball team,&uot; Whitaker said. &uot;If it wasn’t for business people supporting it, there wouldn’t be an American Legion program.&uot;

In closing, Whitaker said he felt the program had come a long way in the five years he’s been associated with the program.

&uot;They quality of our players is better,&uot; Whitaker said. &uot;That is the main difference. I’m not saying anything bad about the player from years back, because if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have the numbers wanting to play that we do.

&uot;In years past, there were forfeits, but because of the players who started out with me and those that followed, American Legion baseball is something a lot of kids want to be a part of,&uot; he added. &uot;The more kids you have, the better chance you have.&uot;