Bruce’s first North State Champion Baseball Team was in 1973. They were defeated 5-4 and 4-2 by Franklin County in the state championship series. Pictured, from left, front, are Billy Burnham, Earlist Glaspie, Ricky Turner, Wesley Spratlin, David Welch; middle, Eddie Murphree, Mike Jones, Jackey Turner, Steve Runer, Charles Davis, Jim Beckett; back, Coach Darrell Logan, Barry Daniels, Danny Alldredge, Benton Hanson, Gary Edwards, and Manager Robert “Blue” Logan.
By JOEL McNEECE
This year’s North State Championship by the Bruce Trojan baseball team was not the first for Calhoun County or the Trojans. The 1973 Trojans won the North and then dropped two close games to Franklin County in the state championship.
“We had a really good team,” said Mike Jones, a shortstop and pitcher for the ’73 Trojans. “I don’t think we took them (Franklin County) serious in the beginning, and unfortunately they were pretty good.”
Jones said the team from Franklin County stepped off the bus with mismatched uniforms and dress socks on, leaving a less than intimidating impression on the Trojans.
“We had our pinstripes on and saw them and thought it was going to be easy,” Jones said.
Jim Beckett, a ninth grader on the ‘73 Trojans, agreed Bruce was a little “over-confident” going into the game.
“We had just beaten Kosciusko, who was clearly the best team we had seen,” Beckett said. “I think after beating them we didn’t think anybody could beat us.”
Beckett acknowledged that as a freshman his contribution was limited.
“I batted a thousand on the year,” Beckett said. “I had one hit and walked twice in my three at bats of the season. We were a strong senior team.”
Franklin won the first game 5-4 and the second 4-2. Benton Hanson pitched in both games for the Trojans. Jones also pitched in the series opener.
“Benton was a really good pitcher,” Jones said. “We had some strong hitters, too.”
Danny Alldredge, Steve Runer and Gary Edwards were among the leaders, Jones remembered.
“I would say Gary was the leader of our team,” Jones said. “It was his senior year, and he was an outstanding all-around player.”
“I think Gary was by far our best hitter,” Beckett said.
The Trojans were a powerful team. Jones said during the 12-game playoff run the Trojans hit 17 home runs. Several of those belonged to Edwards, including two homers, a 3-run and 2-run bomb, earlier in the playoffs against Kosciusko, who was coached by Bruce native George Patton. The second of those home runs might be hard for Edwards to recall.
Clarence Harmon, who coached at Bruce a few years ago, was among the top players on the Kosciusko team and had a violent collision with Trojan catcher Gary Edwards at home plate.
“He knocked me to the backstop,” Edwards said. “I can remember how bad that hurt.”
“We actually had to shake Gary to get him alert later in the game so he could hit,” Jones said. “He stepped to the plate and absolutely crushed a ball.”
Danny Alldredge also showed his power against Kosciusko, as he did previously in a playoff win over Cleveland-East Side with a few home runs.
“We had a lot of ‘want-to’ on that team,” Edwards said.
An extremely rainy season had sent the Trojans to the playoffs having only played eight or nine regular season games.
“We played more playoff games that year than we did regular season games,” Edwards said.
Edwards attributed the strong run to the state championship series to “gelling together at the right time” and “good coaching.”
“We had a good coach who knew baseball,” Edwards said. “We were pretty sound all the way around.”
Other members of the team included Billy Burnham, Earlist Glaspie, Ricky Turner, Wesley Spratlin, David Welch, Eddie Murphree, Jackey Turner, Char-les Davis, Jim Beckett, Barry Daniels, Coach Darrell Logan and Manager Robert “Blue” Logan.
“They were a good group of guys to play with,” Edwards said.
Jones said he carries with him the distinction of making the final out in the championship series.
“I was called out on strikes by Robert Edward Oakley,” Jones said. “I still don’t believe it was a strike.”