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Sunday April 20th 2014

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Play Ball!

By James Hagan

Pensacola’s new Double-A franchise, the Blue Wahoos begin their season April 5. Before the games begin, Pensacola’s own baseball expert, Pensacola State College’s Athletic Director and Head Baseball Coach Bill Hamilton, is giving a free lecture on Pensacola’s baseball history and the upcoming Blue Wahoos’ season on March 22 at the Bayview Senior Resource Center.

“Coach” Hamilton, as he’s known, has been the baseball coach at PSC for over 21 years. He sees the emergence of the Blue Wahoos as being an important step in Pensacola’s growth.

“Having the Wahoos puts us in a class of cities that we haven’t been in,” he says. “There are only so many cities that have Double-A baseball and we are the only one with a waterfront stadium. No one else can boast that.”

Hamilton says that Pensacola has always had a love affair with baseball. While Pensacola has had champions in other sports, like golf, football and sprinting, he says the town has also produced more successful baseball players. He credits the success in baseball to the affinity Pensacola has for the game.

“This is a blue collar type town,” Hamilton says. “Everybody worked to get where they are and I think it reflects somehow on the environment they grew up in. There are a lot of support personnel here that have a passion for baseball. When you think about the number of volunteer coaches in our many youth leagues, there are hundreds right now.  And most of those men have a high level of playing experience.”

Pensacola has had a long history of success on the diamond with the PSC Pirates and the University of West Florida Argonauts. Hamilton expects the winning tradition to continue with the debut of the Wahoos.

“We just have a passion for the game here,” he said. “And you can’t argue with the success these programs have had – from Bill Bond winning state titles year after year to our high schools winning state championships. I just think there is a passion for it. That’s why the Wahoos are welcomed.”

PLAY BALL! A BASEBALL PREVIEW FROM COLLEGE TO MAJOR LEAGUES
WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday, March 22
WHERE: Bayview Senior Resource Center, 2000 E. Lloyd St.
COST: Free
DETAILS: 436-5190