Former Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy threw out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday afternoon at the 17th annual Rickwood Classic, in which the Birmingham Barons fell to the Chattanooga Lookouts, 7-6.
The loss dropped the Barons to 24-29 on the year and 8-9 in 17 Rickwood Classic games and, according to the Barons web site, was also the team’s first loss to the Lookouts in the Classic after three previous wins.
But the many Southside Ball little leaguers in the crowd at Rickwood Field went home happy, anyway.
That’s because two of their players got to interview the two-time National League MVP (1982, 1983) along with other local reporters.
The little leaguers’ collective questions were posed by outfielder Matthew Thomson (6) and third baseman Henry Thomson (8).
Dale Murphy talks T-ball, the joys of hitting and his sage advice for little leaguers
Matthew: Do you think there should be professional t-ball?
Murphy: I love t-ball. I have a grandson who’s going to be playing t-ball this year. But I think we ought to wait until [you] are a little bit older until before we start letting it get it that serious.
Henry: What is your favorite part of baseball?
Murphy: My favorite part of baseball is hitting. That’s what I like to the most. Hitting home runs. Striking out’s not as much fun.
Henry: What is the hardest part of baseball?
Murphy: Hitting the home run [laughs]. Probably hitting the ball too. That’s the thing I like to do the most, and it’s the hardest thing to do.
Matthew: What made you decide to be a baseball player?
Murphy: I liked all the sports. It’s just that when I was younger, I knew that that was probably my best sport. Once I got into high school, and started having scouts watching me, then I really started thinking, “Well, maybe I have a shot at playing the game.”
Henry/Matthew: Do you have any advice for little leaguers who hope to be major leaguers?
Murphy: Just have fun. Don’t worry about anything. Go out there and have fun. And play hard.
The Rickwood Classic is over for another year, but you can still visit the historic ballpark, which bills itself as America’s oldest. Rickwood, located 1137 Second Ave. West, is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. [Before visiting, call (205) 458-8161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm park access.] For more information, visit http://www.rickwood.com.
The Southside Ball Association provides a chance for kids to play little-league baseball on the fields at beautifully renovated Avondale Park. for more information, visit http://southsideball.com or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Southside-Ball.
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