EDITOR’S NOTE: Copies of the special Little League issue are still available at the Herald and Tribune office.
By COLLIN BROOKS
Jonesborough Little League is entering its 30th year and it has seen plenty of growth during its three decades. One of its biggest achievements so far came a decade ago, when the 2006 Senior League All-Star team claimed a state championship.
The league only had two teams that year, so they combined to make up an all-star team. That team proved to be the best team in the state.
Josh Tester was a member of the championship team, as well as the team that won another state championship the following year in 2007. According to Tester, the players who made up that team went on to taste success at the next level, but their winning roots started in Little League.
“I’d say probably the most memorable part about it and what stands out now when I think back on it is that was our first taste as a group of guys of true success,” said Tester, who went on to play at David Crockett High School. “You have to make it a culture before it becomes consistent. So I think that helped us bring that to school ball.”
As a reward, the kids that made up the winning team were rewarded with their choice of $300 or a ring. Kids being kids, they chose the money, but many of them used the funds to pay for their trip to Regionals.
Those are just a few of the memories Little League has provided area kids throughout the three decades.
Coach Allen Barrett has experience many of those memories. He has been involved with the Jonesborough Little League for 22 years, on-and-off, and has seen nine Little League presidents come and go.
He has also witnessed the sense of unity the league provides to the community.
“One of the biggest things that I have noticed for all the years that I have been down there is the fellowship, between the grownups and the kids,” Barrett said. “To me it is almost like a church.”
The Jonesborough Little League offers teams for a variety of ages, with softball for girls ages 7-12. They also have T-ball for kids ages 4-6, instructional baseball for ages 6-8 and major league for ages 9-12.
And even though they are kids, Barrett said that enemies lines are drawn whenever the Jonesborough Little League teams take the field to play any of the surrounding Little League squads.
“People unite; those other little leagues are enemies,” Barrett said. “It is great, what goes on down there.
Persimmon Ridge is now the home of the Jonesborough Little League, which replaced Duncan’s Meadow on Boone Street. The Duncan’s Meadow ballpark started right below where the fire department is currently located, and behind first base there was a hill.
Cecil Greene, whose name is commemorated by one of the fields at Persimmon Ridge, use to coach at Duncan’s Meadow. Greene was town parks and recreation supervisor for almost a decade. His daughter Tammy Greene said that when the field was named after her father it was a true honor.
“He took great pride in those ball fields,” Greene said of her father who coached from 1965-1995. “He’d come home and eat supper and then he had to go back to the field and turn the lights on. He loved those players and those ball fields.”
Barrett said he also enjoys the time that he gets to spend at the ballfields.
“(It’s) the coaching and teaching of fundamentals and hands-on baseball,” Barrett said. “The first guy that I ever helped coach, he told me ‘coach as long as you want, but don’t try to win the game; try not to lose it and you’ll have a lot more fun.’ And I’ve kept that motto every year.”
Other members of the 2206 and 2007 state championship teams were Brock Olinger, James Bailey, Brad Mitchell, Mathew Bennit, Spence Crawford, Eric Ridgeson, John Dillow, Eric Richardson, Zack Jordan, Berry Vandalider, Brandon Massie and Zach Williams. Coaches were John Dillow, Steve Olinger and TJ Crawford. The 2007 team added Cody Smith, Michael Gillion, Nathanel Patterson, King Kitt, Cody Metcalf, Drew Deloch, Nick Aradow, Kristen Archer and Clint Freeman.