Legion baseball succeeded on multiple levels

Thanks, Chuck Fiebernitz, for your leadership
Jul 11, 2013

As the Haywood Post 47 Dragoons Baseball Club wrap up their first American Legion senior season, the stellar performance on the field for Haywood’s first legion baseball team in 61 years is just part of the success story.

Getting the team off the ground is the culmination of an effort that was about a year in the making.

Chuck Fiebernitz, The Mountaineer’s sports editor, was a key player as he worked tirelessly with Legion leaders, both regionally and locally, along with others in the community, to get the team off the ground.

He pulled together key members in the community to ensure the  season would come off without a hitch. Those individuals included Haywood Post 47 Commander Roy Pressley, Post 47 Baseball Athletic Director Larry Harbin, former Major League Manager Dave Bristol, Jeff and Blake Murphy, Matt Mulhern, Buddy Ledford, John Truitt, Lee Starnes, Mike Sorrells, Chad Upton, Rhett Langston, Trent Thomas, Heath Sutton, Scotty Schulhofer and Steve Ledford.

The group spent countless hours planning out everything from securing coaches to building a team to travel arrangements to concessions to even the script for the public address announcer and the music to be played at games. Then there was the task of raising more than $13,000 to finance the effort.

A special thanks to all the businesses and organizations that supported the Dragoons. We encourage others in the community to support these businesses and organizations just as they have supported our youth.

Volunteers came not just from the ranks of the American Legion, but from long-time baseball advocates in the community dedicated to providing yet another level for high school students to play competitive baseball. But the greatest contribution may have been from the Dragoons’ coaching staff. Manager Caleb McConnell, assistant coaches Eryk McConnell, Mitchell Whitner and Scotty Schulhofer spent countless hours teaching the young men the game of baseball in addition to maintaining the field.

The start of Senior Legion baseball (19-and-under) in Haywood County provided an opportunity for ball players from Tuscola, Pisgah, Cherokee, Swain County, Smoky Mountain, Franklin, Robbinsville, Hayesville, Andrews, Murphy and Hiwassee Dam to pull together as a team.

The best thing is, their first year success is but a glimmer of the many years of seasons that lie ahead. The successful launch of an American Legion baseball team for counties west of Asheville means mountain athletes can strive for success at yet another level before heading off to college ball, the minor leagues and maybe even the majors.

Legion baseball graduates are proud contributors throughout our society and often are the most successful people in their respective career fields.

Successful youth activities that provide athletic success at higher levels have a way of bring giving back to the community. More importantly, the presence of athletic teams at a higher level provides an opportunity for generations to come as they work hard, learn the game, all with an eye toward mastering the next level.

And what better time and place than this editorial to announced that the Haywood Post 47 Baseball Club is planning to start a junior legion baseball club, which will be called the Haywood Post 47 Doughboys, beginning in the summer of 2014 for young men ages 13 to 17.

Hats off to The Mountaineer’s sports editor and all those committed to developing our youth by providing opportunities to learn leadership on the baseball diamond.