First baseball state champs in city's history to join hall of fame

The first state baseball championship in North Augusta High School's history came along in 1949, with Ed Stillwell as the Yellow Jackets' coach.

The Jackets, in bagging the District 3 title, dispatched Wagener, Graniteville and Langley-Bath-Clearwater, largely on the strength of a pitching corps that included Donald Metz, Marion Thompson, John Gibbs and Hunter Henry, with catcher Billy Norrell as their target.

The championship quest began against Saluda with the Jackets dropping the opener 4-2. The second contest was rained out for four straight days before the Jackets finally swept Saluda 6-4 and then 20-4 in the final. Pitchers Henry and Thompson again completed the pitching duties for North Augusta.

Round two was against Olympia High School, with the Jackets sweeping the best-of-three playoffs 10-3 and 11-7. Marion Thompson relieved starting pitcher John Gibbs after one inning, giving up four hits and striking out six. Earl Baynham and Billy Humphries each had two hits and three RBIs with Baynham adding a triple and Tommy Griffin and Donald Metz with a double each. The second contest saw the Jackets grab seven runs in the second inning. They never trailed, knocking out 15 hits in the deciding game.

Thompson went 4-for-4, Metz added a two-run homer and Baynham added three hits of his own. Winning pitcher Hunter Henry held the opposition to one run over the first seven innings.

The third round was against Jonesville. The Jackets dropped the opener 6-0 at home and then traveled to Jonesville the next day to record a 3-2 victory behind the pitching of Hunter Henry and a 5-for-5 performance from Earl Baynham. The final game was played at Newberry College, the Jackets prevailing 10-4 behind pitcher Marion Thompson and another four-hit performance by Baynham, plus three hits by T.H. Payne.

Advancing to the Upper State finals against Duncan, North Augusta saw Thompson throw a four-hit shutout in Game 1 with Metz and Williams adding a 2 run home run each for a 9-0 victory. Henry and Donald Metz shared the pitching duties in the deciding game that saw Humphries tally four hits in the 7-6 win for North Augusta.

The state finals were against Cheraw, led by future major leaguer Tom Brewer, whose major league career included eight years with the Boston Red Sox, an all-star nomination in 1956 and two opening-day starts. Brewer (now the namesake of the high school's field) led the Braves to a 6-5 victory in the opening game, overcoming the pitching of Donald Metz and the hitting of Humphries and Norrell.Metz returned to pitch a four-hitter in Game 2 and saw the Jackets lead throughout the contest, setting up the state final at the University of South Carolina Field on May 26. The Jackets, buoyed by Thompson's pitching, cruised to a 12-2 victory and the state title. The Jacket corps in 1949 was also comprised of Carl Canipe, Buddy Metz, Robert Singletary, Lloyd McNair, George Logan and Tommy Griffin.

This year's North Augusta Sports Hall of Fame induction program is scheduled to be held Feb. 16 at Grace United Methodist Church. Tickets are $18 each and available at Sno-Cap, Parks Pharmacy, Hap Greenway Allstate, Jim Bush Flower Shop and Riverview Park Activities Center. Doors are scheduled to open at 6 p.m. with supper at 6:30 p.m. The program begins around 7:15 p.m.

For more information, call John Felak at 215-6056.