Beaufort Ospreys celebrate newfound stability
American Legion Post 9 enjoyed a healthy turnout Sunday for its annual Ospreys alumni baseball game and picnic.
Coker College shortstop Benji Gecy, a former Osprey, helped line up speakers including state Sen. Tom Davis and longtime Coker coach Dave Schmotzer.
Athletic director Bob Shields used some of his time at the microphone to acknowledge how far Post 9 has come the last two years.
The Ospreys did not compete in 2015 in part because then-athletic director George Miller suffered a heart attack. Shields saw the absence of Post 9 baseball as a glaring hole and decided to fill the void last year.
“There was no one that stepped in to keep it going and with the tradition and the legacy and everything you’re hearing about today, we couldn’t let that happen,” he said.
With support from Beaufort High School, Battery Creek, Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, Post 9 was able to field junior and senior teams in 2016.
“That was the good news,” Shields said. “The bad news was since we were the only teams east of Orangeburg and south of Charleston, everyone traveled for (at least two and half hours) to every game we were able to schedule. The teams were in Manning, Dalzell, Florence, Sumter, Orangeburg, Lexington and Aiken.
“I was initially concerned about what kind of taxing that would be for everyone. The players would feel like they were in the major leagues because of all the traveling, but it’s the coaches you needed to be worried about.”
The real strides were made between 2016 and this summer.
“With the help of Chuck Lurey, we talked to other American Legion posts in the area and we’re very pleased to announce that this year, the senior team has a league of its own comprised of Beaufort, Orangeburg, Walterboro, Goose Creek and Hampton,” Shields said.
Shields plans to form a second league for the juniors next offseason, referring to the younger group as “the lifeblood of the program.”
A friendly game between the current Ospreys and the program’s alumni ran into the early evening.
The Post 9 seniors’ next contest is Thursday at Orangeburg. The juniors continue their first week of action tonight at Lexington Red.