Smith: Beasley name synonymous with Troy baseball success

Published 11:00 pm Friday, December 20, 2013

By Dan Smith

The baseball field had a few large pecan trees beyond the right field fence that only a chosen few could assault. It is known that Jerry Barron, Bobby Knotts and Terry Anderson hit baseballs that far with wood bats purchased at Lawrence Hardware, maybe a handful more.

Across the street, in direct contrast to the festive, minor-league-ballpark atmosphere on hot summer nights, was the cemetery.

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Chasing foul balls was a race for the fleet of foot, and the plum trees provided ammunition for fierce battles.

It was a go-to destination. It was the place to be. Mama’s shelled peas and butter beans while sitting in their lawn chairs. Fathers stood in their work clothes or sat in the wood bleachers, while the boys played in thick, heavy wool uniforms turned in at the end of the season and used again next season, and the next.

Robert A. McGhee Field, in all its glory from the 1950’s to the 90’s, was where baseball was born in Troy, and contributed to the strong and respected presence of today.

It was not the field, however, that produced competitive baseball, but the men that coached these teams. From when the park first opened until the time it closed, many talented players and coaches got dirt on their cleats at this ballpark for the first time.

Troy lost one of its great coaches this past Friday, Dec. 20, when Rayburn Beasley passed away.

Coach Beasley produced many great teams, and his three sons Michael, Steven and David and Mrs. Frances Beasley were fixtures at the ballparks. McGhee Field, Pace Field, Franklin Field, and Charles Henderson High’s field saw the Beasley name in the lineup many a game.

Coach Beasley was a competitive leader. He was spirited, demanding excellence while treating all boys and families like they were his own. Some remember his as carrying a clipboard and keeping detailed, meticulous records in his scorebook, and calling every player on every team, “Sugar.”

His boys were arguably the best three-brother combination to come through Troy. Imagine Pete Rose, Dustin Pedroia and Billy Martin all growing up in Troy and playing baseball as boys together at the same time.

At an early age, the boys took the game of baseball personal. They did not like to lose, and seldom did they.

Michael and David went on to play baseball at Wallace Junior College of Selma, where David earned All-America honors as a third baseman. He then transferred to Huntingdon College, and today is in his 16th season as head coach of Berry College in Georgia with the most wins of any coach in school history.

Baseball today in Troy owes a debt of gratitude to the families of McGhee, Beasley, Motes, Harris, McWhorter, Railey and many, many more.

At the Recreation Center at 601 Enzor Road sits many trophies and banners from baseball and softball teams that have enjoyed success and every coach will tell you that winning is not the primary goal, not the most important goal, and that there are many life lessons to be learned from participation in any sport.

Winning is not everything, but when you walk across the field when the last out is made and shake the other player’s hand, it is more fun to have more runs on the scoreboard than they do.

Baseball in Troy is respected across the state, and it is because of many families past and present, but at this time when we are remembering Coach Raburn Beasley and his family, a special page must be included in the history of youth recreation in the Beasley name.

Dan Smith is the Director of Troy Parks and Recreation and a Contributing Columnist to The Messenger.