Arab’s Field of Dreams: 1972 team honored on the team’s spectacular new turf | Sports

I wonder how many of us have ever dreamed of boarding a time machine and returning to one of the most precious periods of our lives.

Perhaps you would go back to when you were a teenager and still attended Arabic High School (AHS). Most of us had no health problems, friends were many, and the biggest problem we faced in life was one of Mrs. Myra Lee Ellenburg’s algebra tests.

Well, I have to go back in time last Saturday…and it wasn’t a dream.

April 2, 2022 will go down as one of the most precious moments of my life. It was the 50th anniversary of the Arab High School baseball team.

The day wasn’t just special because of the anniversary, however. The 1972 baseball team was the first to represent AHS in over a decade at the time. It was a two-year battle, but Coach Bill Morgan got baseball’s first team back together at our alma mater.

Sixteen of the 23 players from the first formation were present. It’s pretty incredible considering the deaths of four of our teammates.

Some of us hadn’t seen each other in half a century since graduating from high school. Smiles and handshakes abounded as we gathered in the parking lot to reminisce about the good old days and Coach Morgan.

Many of us had actually grown up together. We went to school together at some point in our lives, and we also played on the same team or faced each other in local minor league baseball, Bronco or Pony.

Just like in the military and law enforcement, those who play sports form a special bond with their teammates. This spirit of friendship will remain with them throughout their lives, and I am happy to say that it was very present last Saturday.

A few of the players had moved on before graduation or soon after, and that was the reason we didn’t see them.

Most, however, still lived in our area. You would have thought we would have bumped into each other at Walmart or the post office. But it seems that today’s busy work schedules and life are sometimes inconvenient. We hope to change this in the future.

To be fair, the only person who remembered it was the team’s 50th anniversary was teammate Bruce Henry. He contacted AHS baseball coach Chad Hudson and they coordinated the event.

The AHS baseball team served us breakfast near the bleachers and cleaned up our messes after we finished eating. Coach Hudson then took us on a grand tour of the new pitch and we took the opportunity to take several group photos on the pitching mound.

The new pitch is amazing and a bit different from the one we played on in 1972. The indoor all dirt pitch we played on kept the players busy picking up rocks around their positions to avoid bad jumps, and the AHS fans cheered us on from the wooden bleachers. .

I have to give special thanks to Coach Hudson, his assistant coaches and the AHS baseball players for giving us first class treatment. Each of us elders greatly appreciated the hospitality.

We hobbled, hobbled and sent our old bodies home dugout shortly before the Knights faced Russellville in Game 1 of a doubleheader. One of the Arab coaches told his players to take a good look at us all as we lined up to be introduced to the large crowd that had gathered in the stands.

Of course, we were expecting a speech about the historic day and the role the 1972 team played in it. Instead, he said: “Listen boys, this is what you’ll all look like 50 years from now. !”

Thanks coach.

We received a standing ovation from the crowd before and after our presentation. Dr. Keith “Bo” Morgan and his son, Ben Morgan, were also introduced to represent Coach Morgan. Ben threw the first pitch and after a few more shots we left the pitch.

Dr Morgan gathered around us and told us how much his dad loved his players and would be so proud of the 1972 team. We also enjoyed a visit from Coach Morgan’s lovely wife, Pat, who was kind enough to join us.

It started to rain and my family left after the ceremony. I went into the stands and sat alone to watch the ball game.

I watched the baseball field and was able to visualize all of us elders in our glory from 50 years ago. I could still remember the position played by each player on our team and I could see them fielding balls on the ground and making throws.

I remembered how excited we all were, especially Coach Morgan, when Nicky “Lefty” James threw a no-hitter against DAR.

I remembered the mixed aroma of hot dogs, popcorn and cigarette smoke as we returned to the dugout for our turn at bat during a game.

I could see Coach Morgan flashing signs from his third base coach box while Terry “Gobbler” Robinson coached first when he wasn’t hitting.

I saw Kim Porch start with a hit, then followed by our best hitters Tony Ralph, Larry Walker, Mike Shipp and Steve Slaughter.

I can still hear Coach Morgan shouting encouragement when we played well, but shouting “You’ll look like Ned in the first drive” when you didn’t.

Finally, I look out to the outfield and see four dear teammates who are now deceased – Danny Johnson, Rickey Hess, Joe Martin and Richard Martin. They run through the left field fence in a scene straight out of The Field of Dreams.

Unfortunately, my time machine took me back to the present day after only a few hours on Saturday.

Still, it was a great day…one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.

And as Coach Morgan would often say when he really wanted to make a point, “And I don’t mind telling you!”

• Steve Maze was a member of the 1972 Arab High School baseball team.

Denise W. Whigham