Attend any senior night, whatever sport it may be, in Stokes County and you’ll find a few teary eyed players and parents. For many athletes playing beyond high school isn’t an option.
Or is it?
At 33, Alan Brewer missed the game of baseball. As a former North Stokes three-time honorable mention all-conference infielder he voiced it out loud to his wife, Leslie who encouraged him to find an adult league.
“So I went online,” Brewer said. “I found the site for Triad Men’s Senior Baseball League. The website said all players who sign up will be placed on a team. It just so happens that at the time the league had enough new players sign up that we had enough to form a brand new team in the league. And so the Twins were born. The league has since changed names. It is now Triad Adult Baseball League but our team is still the Twins.”
Through his wife’s recruiting, Brewer connected with former players from South Stokes, Jonathan Montgomery and Tommy Nagle.
“Logan Collier and Holden Sprague both attend First Baptist in King. Holden lives in King and Logan lives just across the border in Rural Hall. Joe Claffee played some of his high school career for coach Bobby Smith on the Stokes County based home school team the Carolina Tigers. My stepson Elijah Evans played in the Walnut Cove Little League before playing for the Carolina Tigers. We have quite a few players from around the area,” he said.
Admittedly, finding his way back on the field felt a little strange.
“I knew I could still play even though I had only thrown a baseball a few times since high school. I hadn’t taken a swing since my last game. We were able to practice a few times, but we were all a little rusty. I remember making two fielding errors and a throwing error in that first game. I also went 0-3 at the plate and we got beat pretty bad. I did get to pitch late in that game and I struck out one batter,” Brewer said.
The Twins just finished their regular season in second place with a record of 14-5, missing out on the chance to take first place when the final game against the first-place team was rained out. The successful run is a stark difference to a 0-22 season just five years ago.
“It feels great to be on a winning team. That first season was a struggle. We only have three players on the Twins this year from that original team and it’s good to have guys on the team that still remember where we came from.”
Brewer’s wife, an avid baseball fan herself remembers her father, Tommy Bray’s stories of baseball back in Stokes County in the 60’s.
“Adult baseball was big in Stokes County in the mid-1900’s, with teams from all around the county and big crowds turning out to watch. Young men sometimes joined local teams right out of high school, but mainly the players were in their 20’s and up to about 30 years old,” Bray said. “In the 1950’s, the Walnut Cove All-Stars were an adult league that played on Saturday nights under the lights behind the old Walnut Cove High School (now the Southeastern football field area). They played around the county, particularly in King at the American Legion and in Sandy Ridge.”
In the 1960’s, a Sunday League played on Sunday afternoons and towns, even communities, like Flat Shoals, fielded a team. They’d get their umpires from the stands, pitch in money for a dozen baseballs and buy their own uniforms.
Bray played second base for Walnut Cove, which was coached by Donald “Whistle” Willard and matched up against teams such as Germanton, Pine Hall and Walkertown, as well as some teams from Winston-Salem.
“We’d play a while and fight a while, but it was all in good fun,” Bray said.
Today, Brewer’s wife watches her husband and son from the stands and said it’s a dream come true.
“As a little girl who was fanatical about baseball, I dreamed of marrying a professional baseball player and of having a son who would play professionally one day. Although Alan and Elijah are not in the Major Leagues, they still play on a very competitive level—often with ex-professional players. And to see them playing together makes me feel as though I am living my own “Field of Dreams,” she said.
Her own love of the sport began at an early age.
“I became a rabid Cincinnati Reds fan and by sixth grade was playing baseball on the London Elementary School field with some of the guys who later played for South Stokes High School. Once I realized that as a girl I would never be able to be a Major League Baseball player, I resigned myself to becoming a bat girl and statistician for Southeastern Junior High and South Stokes High School. When I went on to college at UNC-Chapel Hill, I tried out and was chosen to become a bat girl for the Tar Heel baseball team. During my stint as a bat girl there, I met and worked with future MLB players, as well as the New York Yankees who played a scrimmage game there one spring.”
Once college was done, she attended MLB games occasionally down in Atlanta, but comfortably settled into her role as a scorekeeper for most of her son’s baseball teams. She’s followed him through the Walnut Cove Little League, All-Stars, local travel ball, middle and high school leagues and now adult league.
It continues to be a sport that brings their family closer together.
Brewer encourages other men to become involved if they’d like to pick up where they left off in high school.
“Nothing against playing softball but in my opinion playing baseball is way more fun than softball. Play baseball while you’re young. Softball when you get older,” he said.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at (336) 813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.