A tradition sustained
It wasn’t long after I took on the role of sports editor for The Gazette in 2016 that I began to learn about the rich tradition of Charlotte County Dixie Youth Baseball, which got its start in 1958. I was introduced to names of individuals who have helped establish and sustain that tradition, like Carl Vassar, Jimmy Taylor, Mack Card, Bill Boliek, Creighton Riepe, Vernie Long, Mac McKenzie, Charles Harding, Dewey Fallen, Garland Clark, Horseley Jones, Reginald Pillow, Bryan Tuck and Gary Walker.
This year, I learned another name that notably belongs among those — Lealon Vassar.
I was also educated back in 2016 about the Charlotte County All- Star teams that have gone to the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series. Tuck led a Minors team there in 2008, and then Walker guided Majors teams there on three different occasions.
Judging from how the 2018 Dixie Youth Baseball Major League All-Star District 5 Tournament went, it seems like Walker might be guiding another team on that path.
The Charlotte County Majors All-Stars stormed through much of the Victoria-hosted district tourney, finishing with a 4-1 record on their way to winning the district title.
Charlotte County began its run in the tournament June 22 against the host Lunenburg County Youth Baseball League All-Stars. The game was interrupted due to inclement weather and resumed June 23, with Lunenburg County prevailing 4-2. Then on June 24, Charlotte County blew out the Blackstone All-Stars 17-4. The next day brought a rematch with Lunenburg County, and Charlotte County won this time, 6-5.
With three teams remaining in the tourney, each possessing the same record, their names were drawn from a hat, and Charlotte County was set to once again play Lunenburg County.
Even if it is a double- elimination tournament, it is quite rare for two teams in a sixteam field to face each other thrice. And it is well-known in sports that a third meeting with the same team can be particularly challenging. But Walker’s squad turned that June 26 game into a blowout after the fourth inning, winning 15-5. The victory secured Charlotte County its first Majors All-Stars state tournament berth since 2013.
In the district championship game against the Crewe-Burkeville All-Star team on June 27, the Charlotte County All-Stars jumped out to a 10-0 lead after an inning and a half and finished the night early with a 19-5 victory in four innings.
As the trophies and medals were handed out to his boys, Walker initiated a celebration with his team and the Charlotte County community that emphasized the present achievement in light of the past. As the celebratory team photos began, he had his players pose, pointing to the initials on the side of their caps that honored Lealon Vassar, who passed away in November.
After the conventional team photos were finished, Walker welcomed everyone who had been part of Charlotte County Dixie Youth Baseball over the years to join him and his squad for an epic group photo that served as a visual tribute to a rich tradition.
I would like to commend the members of the 2018 Charlotte County Major League All-Star team for sustaining that tradition with a victorious district run, a state berth and the possibility of another trip to the World Series. Those members include Brayson Arrington, Kanye Dailey, K.J. Eames, Ben Gibbs, Jaylon Gordon, Cameron High, Dru Lee, Christian Pettus, Austin Queensberry, Parker Simpson, Colby Trent, Camden Tucker, Coach Billy Gibbs, Coach Steve Feinman and Manager Gary Walker.
Titus Mohler is the sports editor for The Charlotte Gazette and Farmville Newsmedia, LLC. His email address is Titus.Mohler@ TheCharlotteGazette.com.