This past Monday marked the 27th anniversary of one of the most remarkable accomplishments in the history of sports in Conecuh County.
It was on April 13, 1988 – a Wednesday afternoon – that Sparta Academy’s Lee Wild pitched a perfect game no-hitter against Crenshaw Academy.
In a story titled “Lee Wild tosses no-hitter for Sparta Warriors,” The Evergreen Courant reported that Wild “pitched a perfect game as he faced only 15 batters in the five-inning game,” which was called at the end of the fifth inning because Sparta led, 11-0.
Interestingly, this game was played on an Evergreen field that no longer exists, the baseball field at the former Murphy Club. Younger readers in the audience may not know that the Murphy Club, which also included a popular swimming pool, was located near the intersection of West Front Street and Wild Avenue, where South Alabama Gas Co.’s main offices are now located.
According to The Courant, Wild’s pitching win over Crenshaw was his third pitching victory up to that point in the season. On April 5, he struck out 12 in a 4-3 win over Greenville Academy at the Murphy Club, and on April 8 he struck out 12 in a 3-2 win over Escambia Academy at the Murphy Club.
As things go, Wild wasn’t finished with Crenshaw as he went on to record his second no-hitter of the season against Crenshaw in early May in the first round of the state playoffs. Sparta won that game, 18-0.
Helping Wild on the baseball team at Sparta that season was a pretty outstanding supporting cast, and more than a few readers will recognize the names of some of his teammates. Players on that team included catcher Kenny Bledsoe, first basemen Robbie Bolton and Chris Davis, second basemen Steven Gall and Richard Weaver, third baseman Jamie Deason, shortstop and pitcher Brad Watts, outfielders Bobby Johnson, Jeff Carrier, Toby Baggett, Craig Blackburn and Jamie Atkins. Mike Bledsoe was head coach, and Paul Grimes was his assistant coach.
Looking at the roster, it’s interesting to note that at least two Sparta head baseball coaches have come out of the list of players on the 1988 team. Kenny Bledsoe followed in the footsteps of his father and served as the team’s head coach for a while, and Weaver has also served as the team’s head coach a few years ago.
As they say, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Like the 1988 team, this year’s baseball team at Sparta is headed to the playoffs and the team includes at least two sons of players from the 1988 team.
Current Sparta first baseman and pitcher Hunter Bolton is the son of Robbie Bolton, and Griffin Weaver, who plays second and sometimes shortstop, is the son of 1988 second baseman Richard Weaver. Also, Zane Lambert is Steven Gall’s nephew.
Of course, I’m no expert on the in-and-outs of all of the players mentioned above, so there may be ever more connections than I realize. In any case, it’s nice to see the current crop of players at Sparta carrying on the winning tradition at the school.