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A walk down Memory Lane

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1982 Longwood baseball team inducted into the Hall of Fame

By Margaret Pascale

By Margaret Pascale
Sports Editor
Sports@bedfordbulletin.com

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    Billy Catron, Ron Jones and Richard Vaught, three native Bedford men, were a part of the 1982 Longwood baseball team that went to California for the College World Series.
    “In 1982 it was Longwood’s fifth year playing organized baseball and only the second year in Division II,” said Billy Carton.
    With only five years notched for the Longwood Baseball team, going to the College World Series was a big accomplishment. “We were the South Atlantic Regional Champions, and we went to Los Angeles to play in the Division II World Series. We lost out pretty quick out there but we were the first male team from Longwood to advance to any type of national championship,” said Carton
    “It was a major deal. We were the first team at Longwood to go to the World Series and it was something we will never forget,” said Richard Vaught.
    Just a few of the players were unable to make it to the event to stand with their team and accept the induction. “Most of the guys, maybe except three or four, I had not seen for over 30 years so it was just great to get back with them compare stories and reminisce over the games we played and the tournaments we played to get there [The College World Series],” said Ron Jones.
    “The bulk of our team came from Roanoke and Bedford combined and was made up of country kids,” said Catron.
    The overall record for the 1982 baseball team was 34-10-1.
    On February 13, the team was reunited for a formal ceremony and to receive the honor. The team was a part of the sixth class to be inducted into the Longwood Athletics Hall of Fame.
    “The year before there was three other Bedford boys on the team and two decided not to play anymore and one had graduated, which left us with only three boys out of 21 from Bedford,” said Catron.
    The team was happy to be reunited and to see how different the school was now. “The school has changed a tremendous amount, not only the school and baseball facility and the team has moved up to Division I. But we were incredibly impressed that they would recognize a group of guys that are all now in our 50s,” said Catron.
    Not only was making it to the College World Series a big accomplishment but it came with a lot of emotions as well. “It felt pretty good to even make it to California. We were the cinderella team. No one thought in years Longwood would even make it to the Regionals to compete but we just had raw talent and we just gelled as a team,” said Vaught.
    Every player on the team remembers things in a different way or remembers stories and moments that other players didn’t. “A lot of details I had forgotten and  the guys brought back some really wonderful memories,” said Jones.
    “It was an honor to be recognized as the first team to put Longwood on the sports map for Virginia. At the time I thought this is just what happened all the time but 35 some years later I realized teams just don’t routinely go to the World Series,” said Catron.
    Catron is currently a coach at Hampden-Sydney and sees the teams struggle for wins and to try make it to the College World Series. “In retrospect it’s a much bigger team to me now than it was 35 years ago,” said Catron.
    In 1976 Longwood University became a co-ed  school and in 1977 the school installed the Men’s Baseball team. It only took a few short years before the team was put on the map by making it to the College World Series. It took 34 years before the team was inducted into the Hall of Fame, but the Longwood Hall of Fame has only been around since 2005.
    The Longwood Hall of Fame kept it a secret, for the most part, that the team would be inducted for their great achievement. “I believe I saw a notice on Facebook from one of the guys that we were actually being inducted a few weeks before the banquet and it was quite a feeling. It was a really upscale event and they did a nice job of making us feel special,” said Jones.