Buck Leonard League wraps up season


Front row, from left are Tristian Graham, Divian Graham, Carson Cross, Justin Davis, Tristian Graham, Justin Davis, Tristian Graham, Mali and Coach Geoffrey Hunter. Back row, from left are Austin Baker, Coach Diane Hedgepeth, Austin Davis, Coach Trey Hedgepeth, Alexis Hedgepeth, Decarlos Richardson and Corinthian Johnson.


From Contributed Reports

Sunday, October 6, 2019

An All-Star game, an introduction to Baseball Camp and the 18th annual Buck Leonard Weekend Award Program were all successfully carried out by the all-volunteer organization in a single day.

The day began at Englewood Park with an All-Star Game between the four regular-season 14U teams. This game pitted the best players of the four senior teams in a fierce competition.

Trey and Diane Hedgepeth, coaches of the Birmingham Black Barons, and coach Geoffrey Hunter of the Homestead Grays, pitted their regular-season teams against the New York Black Yankees, coached by William Phillips, and the Newark Eagles, coached by Sam Arrington. After 90 minutes of play plus overtime, the Black Yankees and Eagles fell to the Black Barons and Homestead Grays team, with a final score of 8-6.

On an adjacent field, a group of 25 5- to 11-year-old boys and girls participated in a Play Ball Camp conducted by Luther Norman and his son Tyrone Norman of the Youth Sports Bureau of Spartanburg, S.C.

The Youth Sports Bureau group travels to Rocky Mount each year to conduct the free clinic. During the camp, they engaged children in skill development at their skill levels. After a rigorous preparation period, all participants divided into two teams for a simulated baseball game. The camp ended with the handing out of participation rewards of T-shirts, bats and balls and snacks.

Later in the day, players, coaches and parents convened at the Booker T. Theater for the 18th annual Buck Leonard Weekend Youth Awards Program. A video presentation, featuring the trailer “The Other Boys of Summer,” preceded the awards ceremony. The 40-minute documentary produced by Lauren Myers, an Emmy-nominated director, chronicles the lives and careers of former Negro Leagues players — their triumphs and struggles.

Myers said the film’s goal is to bring people together, engaging individuals in conversations and a forum about civil rights issues of the post-segregation era. The documentary, narrated by Cecily Tyson, features several former Negro League players as well as other noteworthy trailblazers who contributed to the history of the period.

During the awards ceremony, Tyriek Harrell, Earl Willams Jr., Jaden Sutton and Jackson Lynch received Sportsmanship Awards for their respective teams. Tristian Graham, Maleik Pittman, Decorlos Richardson and Brent Richie took home the Most Valuable Player trophies for their teams.

The Coaches Choice Trophy for League-wide Most Valuable Player was shared by Eli Mayo and Alexis Hedgepeth — one of three girls playing in the league. Jabri East received the League-wide Sportsmanship Trophy, with the Josh Gibson Catcher’s Trophy going to Elijah Anderson.

The New York Black Yankees, coached by William Phillips Jr., received the Regular Season Championship trophy.

The organization extends appreciations to Golden Coral Restaurant, Hunter Hill BBQ & Catering, Grandsons Restaurant and the Olive Garden for supplying food for the Best of the Town Food Court — and most of all to the coaches who through their unselfish services made it all happen.