EDITOR’S NOTE: Col. Tony Lackey ’61 has been around Citadel Athletics since the mid-1950s and provides a weekly blog on some of the sports highlights that he recalls.
By Col. Tony Lackey ‘61
As told to Andy Solomon
I have always been a baseball fan, and a fan of Citadel Baseball. And while Coach Fred Jordan has done a terrific job taking over for his mentor Chal Port, I am reminded of previous coaches — Mack Erwin (1957-60) and Jim Newsome (1961-64).
Both were assistant football coaches, as was Coach Port until 1967. But Citadel Baseball was very unique, as were many of our players.
The program’s first Southern Conference title came in 1960 (we shared it with Richmond) as we had an 18-6 overall record and 8-2 in the league. Hall of Famers Ed Colby and Dick Almes were our top pitchers, and since we didn’t play many games back then, it seemed that either Colby or Almes was pitching every day.
And, man, that ’60 team could hit. I think we had a team batting average of .328 or .338, something like that. Bubba Mura hit over .470 that year.
Billy Whaley, who was the football team’s quarterback, was a third baseman and Joel Heiser played second. Casey Luzak was our first baseman and our catchers were Joe Cabrina and Royce Toni. Bucky Sharpe and Marshall McRae were our top outfielders, and Jerry Buchanan was also in the infield.
It was a great team with a lot of unique guys. They were great players and great guys.
The ’61 team, which was Newsome’s first, was pretty good and they finished with an 11-8 record (5-6 in the SoCon).
One game, in particular, that I recall came in the season’s opener in ’61 when Clemson came to Charleston (March 24). We played some of our games on WLI Field, and I recall that we hosted the Tigers when they featured All-American Ty Cline, a Charleston native.
What was as memorable as that 6-4 victory was that the Corps of Cadets all came out for the game and literally draped all over Indian Hill to watch it.
I seem to have more memories of our playing at spacious College Park, especially the South Carolina game that we won, 8-5. Rupert Pate, an infielder who really wasn’t a big guy at all, came in as a late-inning pinch-hitter and he belted a grand slam.
When I returned to The Citadel as a TAC Office in the early 1970s, Chal Port had begun his lengthy tenure and our successes continued.
I recall when South Carolina came to College Park in the early ‘70s. We had talented players like Billy Wieters, Gene Dotson, Rod Lanning, Serve Arrington and Dickie Jones, and the Gamecocks were coached by former New York Yankees second baseman and Sumter, South Carolina-native Bobby Richardson.
The entire Corps came out to College Park for the game, and we sat the band right behind home plate. I remember sitting next to the Commandant of Cadets, Col. Walter Clark ’51, and his wife. We had a tremendous atmosphere for those games.