Longtime Troy coach Sam Kitchens elected to Dixie Baseball Hall of Fame

Published 10:37 pm Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sam Kitchens’ speech didn’t last long, but it wasn’t because he wasn’t thankful.

He just wanted to watch more baseball.

The Dixie Boys District Tournament came to a halt Wednesday evening as Kitchens received a plaque and watch commemorating his election to the Dixie Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Kitchens, a fixture of Troy recreation baseball for the last 39 years, said he never believed a coaching career that began, as a volunteer assistant coach would end up in the hall of fame.

“When I first started coaching I thought it would be something that I would do for four or five years, and then go on to teach and maybe coach a little school ball,” Kitchens said. “That’s not what happened, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the game for this long. I really am almost speechless.”

Earlier in the spring, the City of Troy honored Kitchens by renaming the “big field” on South Franklin Drive in his honor. Kitchens coached the final portion of his career at the park.

In his near-four decade long career, Kitchens guided two Troy teams to Dixie World Series titles, and played for a few more. Kitchens was never ejected, not because he never got excited in the dugout – because he is quick to say he did – but because he always wanted to set an example for his players.

“I learned at an early age that the kids were going to act like I acted,” Kitchens said. “If I lost my cool and went crazy, I knew they would as well. My first objective was to win the game by the rules. Umpires will tell you that most of the time I went to them to talk about a rule, I did it calmly.”

Kitchens becomes just the second coach elected to the Hall of Fame, the first Dixie Boys coach and the first coach from Alabama.

He follows friends, and fellow Alabamians Talmadge Bowen and Bill Moore.

J. Sandy Jones, Dixie Baseball Commissioner, presented the plaque to Kitchens, and said he to do a double take when first seeing Kitchens, as it was the first time in over nearly 30 years that he had not seen Kitchens in uniform.

“When I think of Dixie baseball and when I think of Troy, Alabama, Sam Kitchens is what I see,” Jones said. “He epitomizes what we want to do with our program. He won two World Series, but bigger than that is he always conducted himself the right way. He is a man of the utmost character, and I am glad to not only have him in the Hall of Fame, but also to call him a friend.”

Kitchens wasn’t in the coach’s box on the field during the tournament that last few days, but was planted in his lawn chair just outside the fence watching “his boys.”

Although he is no longer their coach, having stepped away from full-time coaching prior to the start of the 2014 season, Kitchens said they players would always hold a special place in his heart.

“You coach for those kids,” said Kitchens. “They are my boys and will always be my boys. Seeing that look on their face after they do something they thought they couldn’t do is something I will always remember. I was their coach, but I learned as much from them as they did from me. I love them all.”