Killough remembers Bearcat Field moments

Published 6:53 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pitcher Trent Hatton running and jumping in his arms after hurling a no hitter and a surprise baby shower on the field for he and his wife Beth in honor of the birth of their daughter Abby were just two of the many memories long time Bainbridge High School Bearcats head baseball coach Stan Killough has of Bearcat Field.

Killough, Heath Horn, Ell Willis and current coach Scott Miller have all served as head coaches at Bearcat Field, which, with the opening of the baseball field on the new BHS campus, will soon become home of the Bainbridge Middle School Bearcats.

With the official closing of the field as a varsity baseball facility at the conclusion of the 2009 season, Killough talked about the many memories he has from there.

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Killough actually coached the Bearcats on two different BHS fields.

“When I first became head coach the field was where the Decatur County Memorial Coliseum sits now,” he recalled.

During his BHS career, Killough worked with and coached two players who went on to play major league baseball, third baseman and shortstop Ernie Riles and pitcher Brian Powell.

“Actually, when Ernie came along, we were playing at the original Bearcat Field and Doug Tucker was head baseball coach,” said Killough. “I worked some with Ernie while Doug was in football practice.”

“When Brian came along, professional baseball team scouts called me all the time asking me when he was going to pitch. Sometimes I would tell them I wasn’t sure if he were going to pitch a certain day, but they continued to press me. I’ve got a scout flying in from Los Angeles, so I really need to know when he is going to pitch,” he would say. “It was amazing. Major league teams would send front men who laid the ground work before their scout arrived.”

He went on to say that Powell was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels out of high school, but he decided to accept a baseball scholarship from the University of Georgia where he became an All-American. Following his junior year at Georgia, he was drafted and signed with the Detroit Tigers. In his career he played in the major leagues with the Tigers, the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I had a great ride as Bearcats head coach and there were a lot of great stories through the years that I was privileged to be a part of,” said Killough. “I also worked with two great assistant coaches Ell Willis and Steve Bowers, who went on to become successful head coaches, Ell here and Steve at Cairo and Westover of Albany.”

By far the saddest memory of his tenure as head coach at Bearcat Field came when Killough first heard about the drowning of his former late player John Hambrick.

“John Hambrick, who died in a drowning accident, was one of the best hitters and best young men ever to come through the Bainbridge High School baseball program,” Killough said. “The Bearcats batting average award is named for him each year.”

A pitcher fondly remembered by Killough is left hander John Grimsley.

“John Grimsley was a very steady pitcher who kept the ball around the plate,” his former head coach said. “I remember one day when we were playing Tift County in Tifton and John Grimsley was on the mound. The umpire was giving him the outside corner and he was mowing down Tift County batter after Tift County batter.”