Alumni baseball game reunites former playersBy Elliott Propes | 02/08/2016 10:40pm
CW | Savannah Kelly
Over 200 alumni of the Alabama baseball program made the trip back to Tuscaloosa to see not only a newly renovated Sewell-Thomas Stadium, but to reconnect as an organization. Players from the 1950s to more recent graduates all came back for what was the inaugural Alumni Game.
“One of the things coach [Bill] Battle has been instrumental in is it wasn’t about building a stadium, it was about building back our program,” former player Jeff Laubenthal said. “A lot of guys haven’t been in touch with the program, because we haven’t been doing a good job of really reaching our alumni, and [Battle] really made that a priority. Thanks to him all these guys are back today and enjoying this beautiful stadium.”
One of those guys was George Howell, who is decorated World War II veteran and member of the 1950 SEC Championship team that went to the College World Series. He took the first swings in the batting cage before Saturday's game. Then, several other alumni suited up to play against the current Crimson Tide.
Some of the headliners who made the trip were major leaguers, Mike Avila and Tommy Hunter. Also, the current Arizona Diamondbacks hitting coach, Dave Magadan, was in attendance.
“This is pretty spectacular; I can’t believe the turnout,” Avila said. “Just seeing all the guys I played with, guys that played before me, guys that played after me, it’s all amazing. Driving up here, I was pretty amazed, seeing the whole stadium. This day is pretty special.”
Avila said that he was impressed with the stadium and what it could mean for Alabama's recruiting.
“For high school players coming in, checking out a school, looking where they want to spend four years of their life, not only to get an education, but try to pursue the game of baseball, to come to a facility like this to grow as a player is huge,” Avila said. “For any kid coming in and you see this it would be hard to beat.”