SEVEN CONSECUTIVE STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
THREE CONSECUTIVE SOUTHEASTERN PREP CHAMPIONSHIPS
After not fielding a team during the war years, in March 1949 ARC Athletic DirectorRoy Rollins named A. L. Williams, Jr to restart the ARC baseball program. The AugustaTigers pro baseball team donated uniforms and proceeds from ARC’s spring footballgame were used to aid in the start-up. On April 8th 1949 the Musketeers playedtheir first game in years – defeating Washington High School 25-5 at the Allen Parkdiamond.In the first two seasons, 1949 and 1950, the Musketeers were edged out of the regionchampionship and berths in the state tournament by the Savannah schools. ButCoach Williams’ emphasis on fundamentals and hard work began to show benefitsand when the team assembled in March 1951 it was apparent that ARC was ready toroll.
THREE CONSECUTIVE SOUTHEASTERN PREP CHAMPIONSHIPS
1951 - Information in the local newspaper archives is limited for the 1951 season.However we do know the following - the Musketeers captured the Region 2-AA title(at that time AA was the highest classification in the state). Next they competed withthe state champions from the other classifications in Georgia (A, B and C), defeatingRome in the finals to win the Georgia All-Classification titleThis earned ARC an invitation to represent Georgia in the Southeastern PrepSchool Tournament in Alabama. There they competed with state champions fromas far north as Kentucky, as far south as Florida and as far west as Mississippi. TheMusketeers defeated tournament favorite Lanier of Montgomery, AL in the finals towin the prestigious tournament.
Seniors – Don (Swifty) Berry, Wayne Boose, Earl Babbitt, Frank Babbitt, RichardCurry, Robert Ford and Wallace Bland
1952 - ARC rolled through their region schedule to capture their second straightregion title, losing only to Benedictine and non-region foe Langley-Bath-Clearwater.They were aided by the transfer in from Savannah of pitcher Leroy Cullens, whoposted a 6-1 record during the season.
In preparation for the state playoffs Coach Williams’ crew played and defeated a teamfrom Camp Gordon 7-6.
In the double-elimination state tournament ARC defeated Rome 4-0 and Grady twice9-2 and 6-0, to capture the title. During the tournament Jack Poppell stole 8 bases,including home plate once, went 6 for 11 at the plate, played errorless ball in the fieldand was named Outstanding Player in the tournament.17Next they won the Georgia All-Classification Tournament, defeating Avondale andthen Pepperell of Rome twice.
Again they were invited to represent Georgia in the Southeastern Prep SchoolTournament. Among the state champions were teams from Jackson MS, AlexandriaVA, Miami FL, Louisville KY, Kingsport TN, Montgomery AL and the host school fromGadsen, AL.
ARC defeated Jackson 4-1, Lanier 8-2 and Alexandria 8-1 to win the tournament forthe second year in a row. Note – future NFL Hall of Famer Bart Starr was a key playerfor Lanier.
Seniors – Jack Poppell and Leroy Cullens
1953 - ARC rolled again to a region championship and along the way Ray Allen hitseveral home runs out of Jennings Stadium, including two in one game, and when theMusketeers played at the Allen Park diamond, his blasts landed in the middle of 15thStreet for “ground rule” doubles.
To prepare for the state tournament Coach Williams scheduled a game with theUniversity of Georgia freshman team, and to the shock of UGA fans, ARC’s JimmyShead shut out the Bullpups 4-0.
ARC romped thru the State Tournament, defeating Lanier 13-2 and 12-3, thenfollowed those wins by defeating Russell of Atlanta 6-2 and 9-4 to claim the state title.
When the Georgia All-Classification Tournament was scheduled the winners fromClasses A and C chose not to compete. Only Class B champion Pepperell of Romecompeted against ARC and in two hard-fought games the Musketeers prevailed 3-2 inboth, earning them an invitation to again represent Georgia in the Southeastern PrepTournament in Alabama.
State championship teams competing in the ’53 Tournament were from Key West, FL,Memphis TN, Newton MS, Montgomery AL, Bardstown KY, and Selma AL.
The “experts” still hadn’t learned as they once again had the Musketeers asunderdogs. Newton, MS with a record of 20-1 and Lanier of Montgomery, AL with arecord of 17-0 were the heavy favorites.
However ARC barely broke a sweat, knocking off Newton 3-0, Lanier 13-5 and KeyWest 12-2 for their third consecutive title.
Seniors – Bobby Adams, Duane Grice, Johnny Menger, Jimmy Farris, Jimmy Ford,Jimmy Shead
1954 - In a key region game Roy Alewine pitched a 13 inning 1-0 victory over BoysCatholic to lead the Musketeers to a fourth region championship.Augusta’s Jennings Stadium was the site of the 1954 State Tournament. Alewine gotthings going with a one-hitter defeating Griffin 5-0, facing only 22 batters in the 7inning game. A 2-0 victory over Moultrie was followed by a 2-1 loss to Moultrie andtheir ace, Freddie Burdette, who would later pitch in the Major Leagues with theChicago Cubs.
But Alewine clinched the title by pitching ARC to a 6-0 win over Moultrie in thedouble-elimination tournament.
Neither the Georgia All-Classification Tournament or the Southeastern PrepTournament were held. Some say due to financial issues, others - ARC supportersmainly - say they were discontinued due to dominance by Richmond Academy.
Senior starters – Roy Alewine, Wimpy Odom, Skeeter Griffin, Ray Allen, DickieGrice, Grover Brown, Preston Sizemore, Thurmond Queen, R. E. Gladin
1955 - The 1955 season was termed a “rebuilding” year for ARC but once again ARCwon the region title, defeating Savannah High School to clinch the title. Only lossesduring the regular season were to Boys Catholic and Graniteville.
In the State Tournament Richmond defeated Fulton of Atlanta 8-2, Baker ofColumbus 3-2, then lost 10-1 to Baker which forces a third contest with Baker forthe title. Jack Fisher pitched a 2-hit shutout to give the Musketeers a 6-0 win andtheir 5th consecutive state championship. Five ARC players were named to the statetournament all-star team – Fisher, Bernard Moog, Gary Melton, Danny Williams andJames Rogers.
Robert Michels and Bonny Ford were chosen to play in the Georgia North-SouthLighthouse All-Star game in Atlanta. In previous years other ARC players selected toplay include Robert Ford, Richard Curry, Swifty Berry, Jack Poppell, Leroy Cullens,Johnny Menger, Jimmy Farris, Duane Grice, Ray Allen, Preston Sizemore and RoyAlewine
Seniors – Manley Gilmer, Bernard Moog, Robert Michels, Bonny Ford, DannyWilliams, Bill Smith
1956 - The 1956 region championship once again came down to ARC and Savannah.The Blue Jackets were able to hand Fisher his only loss in three years. A schedulemix-up had Richmond at Clearwater Field in Langley early expecting an afternoongame. However the Savannah team was still in Savannah, thinking it was a nightgame. Coach Williams admitted to making a mistake – keeping his team in Langleypracticing while awaiting the arrival of the Blue Jackets. A tired, worn-out ARC teamthen committed seven errors in losing the game 5-4.19Richmond however got revenge in their final region game defeating Savannah 3-0 inSavannah to grab the title.
At the end of the regular season ARC was 14-1 and had averaged 10 runs a game indoing so. Record to date from the 1951 season is 122-13.
In the state tournament the Musketeers were dominate – Herb Alewine 6-hits Daltonwinning 6-0, Fisher throws a 1-hitter against Lanier of Macon for a 10-0 win and RayMims continues the shutout parade by blanking Northside of Atlanta on a 1-hitter.
Eight of the twenty one players selected for the State Tournament All-Star Team werefrom ARC, including all three pitchers used by ARC.
Seniors – Cliff Channell, Lewis Flint, Forrest Hensley, Tommy King, Ray Mims, ArtPatchin, Tom Pitcher, Lawrence Wren
1957 - Pitching, defense and timely hitting led to an undefeated season in 1957. Ofthe 14 regular season games 11 are shutouts and in 2 they surrendered only 1 run.The highest ERA of the three starters, Jack Fisher, Herb Alewine and Luther Shead,was 0.35.
In the State Tournament, Fisher pitched a 3-hitter to win the first game against Lanierand their future Major League pitcher Bob Hendley 4-1. Hendley had allowed onlyone earned run the entire season before ARC scored three in the first inning on atriple by Charlie Clayton. Then Herb Alewine pitched a 2-hitter to defeat Northside4-1 and Luther Shead clinched the State Championship with a 3-hitter on his birthdayto defeat Lanier 8-1.
After the conclusion of the tournament the Thomaston newspaper praised theconduct of the ARC players - “conducted themselves as gentlemen both on andoff the field”. They were also impressed by their attendance at Sunday night churchservices.
ARC ended the season and their run of 7 consecutive Region and StateChampionships on a 30 game winning streak. Their overall record was an amazing 147wins against only 13 losses.
Nine players on the 1957 roster went on to play for either the University of Georgia orGeorgia Southern College.
Fisher signed in late June with Baltimore and was pitching in the Major Leagues forthe Orioles in less than 2 years and had a solid 10 year career that included time withthe Orioles, Giants, Mets, White Sox and Reds.
Seniors – Herb Alewine, Phillip Bell, Charles Clayton, Johnny Dowdy, Jimmy Knight,Jack Fisher, Gene Fulcher, Ray Grubbs, Sam Howard, Buzzy McMillan, J. T. Moseley,Luther Shead, James Rogers
COACH A. L. WILLIAMS, JR
Coach Williams would never take credit for his team’s success – always giving creditto “his boys”. He was especially proud of what “his boys” did after leaving Richmond,taking pride in their success after baseball.
His teams were noted for hard work and discipline. Weekday practices wouldsometimes last 2 ½ hours and on weekends it was said to “bring your lunch and beprepared to stay awhile” – his teams would work on fundamentals in the morningthen divide into two teams and scrimmage after lunch.Coach Williams was a modest man – in 1952 after the team had captured theirsecond Southeastern Prep Tournament title, the ARC Booster Club had plans to meetthe team at the county line with police and fire department escorts escorting themthru town with sirens blaring. However Coach Williams was not very fond of the ideaand drove the team bus into town using an alternate route. When the team did notappear at the county line as expected the Chronicle reporters set out to locate themissing Musketeers – two hours later they finally located the bus, Coach Williams atthe wheel but only two players remained on board, Preston Sizemore and KennethMerry. All others had been delivered safely and quietly to their homes.He continued to coach baseball at Richmond until 1969, a total of 21 seasons. Over 60of his players went on to play college baseball and over 30 played professionally.
Coach Williams is a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the ARC Hall ofFame.
Coach Williams loved ARC. His daughter once said her father would have paintedtheir home “purple and gold” if their mother had allowed him.
He was a founding member of Crawford Avenue Baptist Church and at almost 90years of age, even though he had lost his eyesight and his mobility, he insistedon attending Sunday church services – being transported there and back in anambulance courtesy of one of “his boys".