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Hello everyone, I’m Jeff Burns, the Director of Athletics here at Randolph-Macon.
This is a very special day for us because baseball has been interwoven into the history of this great college and today we get to celebrate yet another milestone. The first baseball teams date back to the late 1800s when Randolph-Macon moved from its original site in Boydton, Virginia to Ashland.
Even as the college experienced difficult financial times, and several world wars, baseball was still played on the main quad of campus. The baseball field was nestled in the middle of Pace Armistead Hall and Washington Franklin Hall. Photos date back to 1902 and actually show horses and buggies lining the outfield as spectators from Ashland came to campus to watch our earliest teams.
Baseball grew into a varsity sport in the late 1930s and was coached by Taylor Sandford until 1949. Under his leadership, the team captured three championships. More important than winning – baseball became a way for the college community to come together on Saturday afternoons after class and spend time together as a community. There is one member of Coach Sandford’s team here with us today, Jack Russell, the manager of the team and a member of the Class of 1944.
Of course, in 1950, Hugh Stephens took over the reigns as Head Baseball Coach. Under Coach Stephens’ guidance, Randolph-Macon baseball rose to new heights. Over the next 32 years, Coach Stephens amassed 449 victories while suffering only 202 defeats. He captured six Mason-Dixon Conference Titles, 11 Southern Division Championships, ten Virginia Small College Championships and one Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship. Coach Stephens’ family, including his wife Kathryn, are here with us today to celebrate – can you stand and be recognized?
An interesting fact is that the Randolph-Macon baseball team has been coached by a Randolph-Macon graduate for the past 60 years which really says something about a program. I’d to recognize the two coaches – and former players – that have been at the helm of Randolph-Macon baseball since Coach Stephens retired. Gregg Waters, member of the class of 1978, coached here from 1983-2005. And, our current Head Coach, Ray Hedrick, member of the Class of 1997 – Ray actually has to leave us in a bit to get our team warmed up for today’s game.
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