By Bonnie Culverhouse
It was a night to remember one of the greatest days of their lives.
Fifty years and one day after it happened, almost the entire Minden High School 1972 championship baseball team gathered Saturday night at Orleans on Main to relive not only the award-winning game, but the playoffs leading to it.
Jimmy Williams, who played second base, said one of the reasons he wanted to have the gathering was for his brother, Coach Butch Williams. Williams, along with two of the players, Alan Sherrill and Steve Baugh, have passed away.
“Butch would’ve loved this,” Williams said.
Butch’s wife, Kai pointed out the trophy displayed Saturday night was given to the team by the community, rather than the school.
She also said the game changed the course of their lives.
“If it weren’t for y’all winning the championship game, Minden Athletic might not be here,” she said, speaking of their family business. “We knew there was a need for it, and that win helped us realize that dream.”
After a meal and sharing of memories, Mark Chreene with KASO/KBEF Radio rebroadcast the 1972 championship game. It was called by Charlie Collier with Bo Cook as commentator and M.S. “Digger” O’Dell as statistician.
It seemed only fitting to hear the final out of the game was a throw from shortstop Rob Valentine to first baseman Pat Woodard.
“Pat was an All-State hurdler,” Williams said. “Pat wanted to come play baseball his senior year, but he hadn’t played since maybe seventh grade.”
At the time, Joe Stewart was Athletic Director and Butch Williams’ boss.
“He told Butch to cut Pat and send him back to track,” Williams said. “Butch said he thought Stewart was going to fire him before Pat even had a chance to play.”
The team beat Bossier 3-0, and Ronald Martin pitched a no-hitter. Bossier had beaten Minden three times that year, and Williams said Bossier had already sized their championship rings.
“Butch knew we were going to win and he instilled that in us,” Williams said. “He had faith, so we had faith.”
The 1972 team didn’t receive championship rings that year, but they did Saturday night … fifty years late and not a moment (nor a memory) too soon.
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