Because of my daughter's birth in April, I didn't get to watch much of the Thomson High baseball team's run into the semifinals last year. That was the first time the Dogs had done that since 1968, when, as a 10-year-old, I watched us lose in the finals to Westminster when baseball was still played in the Brickyard.
I was only able to attend a few of the games last season, but Callie Ann did make her debut at one game toward the end of the season. This year, I was able to enjoy the run we made and attended most of the home games and even got to pinch hit once as part of the broadcast team. It was a great year.
We were all disappointed in how things turned out in Columbus that blazing hot Monday, but as a former coach I can relate. Anyone who has played or coached any sport for any length of time has been a part of a team which was, perhaps, good enough to win it all, but picked a bad day to have a bad day.
Our 1988 football team had won 12 straight after looking very bad in losing the season opener to Greene County 7-0. However, for 12 games we were unstoppable, and our defense was like a block of granite. Then, a trip to Thomasville saw us commit six turnovers on the way to an embarrassing 43-8 loss. It happens, and unfortunately, it happened to what was, arguably, the best baseball team in Thomson High history.
I'm not going to tell you that I've forgotten that game in Thomasville because being a "glass is half empty" kind of guy, I remember the heart-breaking losses as much as I do the three state championships. I hope that we as fans remember this Thomson team for what it accomplished on its way to the semifinals. A 28-4 record and a third straight region championship is pretty dang good. We went undefeated in a subregion that included two of the winningest schools and coaches in the history of high school baseball in Georgia. We beat Westside, led by Gerald Barnes, and Harlem, led by Jimmie Lewis, a total of five times this season. Three of those wins were tension-filled, one-run affairs.
I will miss those eight seniors who have been such a huge part of establishing us as a team to be reckoned with on the diamond. I will miss Jason Osborn, who is not only a fine coach but also a good man and a great friend.
I will miss the passion of Ralph, Gene and Stewart as they described the action for us on the radio when we couldn't be at the games.
No one has loved our baseball team any more than these three men, who gave tirelessly and freely of their time to bring us the action.
I don't know about y'all, but I'm going to remember the greatness of this team and the fun I had watching them. Thanks for the memories. Go Dogs!
John Barnett has played, observed and coached Thomson athletics for 45 years. Contact him at B122792@comcast.net.