Most athletes want to relive their glory days. For Grove baseball alumni, the chance comes on a yearly basis.
Friday and Saturday, April 14-15, is Alumni weekend for the baseball program. Kicking off the weekend is the Alumni game on Friday night at 7 p.m. Graduated members of program are invited to come play against one another on Jim Beuchamp Field. Infield and batting practice are set to begin at 6 p.m. Spouses and children are welcome at the family friendly event.
On Saturday, April 15, the current team will play at 11 a.m. with an alumni luncheon to follow. The high school team will play against McDonald County at 5 p.m.
Kash Beuchamp will be throwing the first pitch to honor his late father, Jim Beuchamp, for whom the field is named.
"I really appreciate what Coach Pennington has done in bringing the alumni back and remembering us," said Beuchamp. "Last year was the first time we'd ever done anything like that and I really had a good time. I was the oldest dude there. It was just great to see the kids that have played at Grove."
The Hall of Fame banquet will be held on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Grand Lake Casino Lodge. A live band and cash bar will be available to those of age. The cost is $10 per person and spouses and children are welcome at the family friendly event.
"We will be inducting [the 1997 State Championship team] into the Hall of Fame," said Grove head coach Donny Pennington. "We will also be inducting Jim Beachamp, who field is named after."
The Grove Baseball Hall of Fame is new for the program.
"It's one of those things that I think we need to recognize those who have given to the program and what they were about and how they developed baseball in Grove," said Pennington.
Pennington plans to induce two or three to the Hall of Fame each year.
"It's the first time ever to have a Hall of Fame for baseball. we have a lot of alumni coming back for it and it should be a great weekend," said Pennington.
The fun kicks off at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 14, at Beachamp Field.
Dodson recalls 1997 State championship
After a historic 38-3 season, the 1997 Grove Ridgerunner baseball team won it all.
But for former head coach turned principle, Pat Dodson, one thing about the season stands out.
"The losses stand out to me, I remember all of them," said Dodson. "We lost to Oologah by one run [6-5], I remember we just didn't play well that game... We lost in the Jenks tournament to Putnam City 3-2. And we lost to Tulsa Hale 4-2 in a tournament also."
The team brought home the first ever State Championship for Grove boys.
"The year before we had gone to State and we thought we were the best team. The team who beat us [Oologah], we had beaten them two or three weeks earlier, we actually run-ruled them at home. They ended up winning the whole thing," said Dodson. "Things just didn't go our way at certain times, they ended up coming out with the victory and went on to win the next two games."
Dodson said that the loss left a bad taste in the Ridgerunner's mouths.
"Our kids came back, after working hard over the summer, playing a lot of ball and several of them even got into cross country and got started on their training very early in the fall, got into lifting weights," said Dodson.
Two athletes had astounding years.
"Jared Mounford and Josh Shackelford are the two that career years at the plate. Shackelford still has the record of 19 homeruns that year and he had 73 RBIs. That's quite a few RBIs in 41 games. And Mountford, he had 15 homeruns and 54 RBIs," said Dodson. "They just had great years. Basically 69 homeruns and we play in a large ballpark. It's just amazing."
Dodson said that he isn't sure who from the 1997 Championship team will be able to be at the alumni game, but that short stop Steven Bale was contacting players and posting the information to Facebook.
"Whoever shows up, it's just going to be a great time," said Dodson.