They had the baseball signing for Ray Crawford Jr. last night at J. Butler’s on High Point Road and it was truly a gathering of family and friends.
Ray has signed/committed to play baseball at UNCG for Coach Mike Gaski and RC Jr. still has one season remaining at Dudley with Coach Larry Farrer. Ray plays third base, but who knows, he could end up in the outfield for the UNCG Spartans. He has one of the strongest arms you will ever see and his offense is highlighted by his superior bat-speed and bat-strength.
(Click any picture to see the Full Set – provided by Beverly Neal)
So much for the baseball talk, last night was about the fact that Ray Jr. and his family have made a major impact in the community, as typified by the large support group that showed up last night in honor of Ray Crawford Jr.
The support group was very vocal and they had nothing but good and positive things to say about Ray, as all of those in attendance looked together at his future at UNCG.
Dudley Panther baseball coach Larry Farrer opened the signing and his remarks spoke of Ray’s development as a player and the positive impact that he can have on the future of the Dudley baseball program.
Coach Farrer drove home the key points that Little Ray,(as most of the followers of the family know Ray Crawford Jr.) can give current and future Dudley baseball players the chance to be seen and noticed, since Little Ray has opened the door to let many others on the outside get to know more about the Dudley Panther baseball program and to let many know, the Dudley does have a baseball program, that they have re-built at times, literally from the ground up……
The coach and others pounded home the Panther point, that this is about opportunity and now there are some, for the kids in the Dudley baseball community and Ray Jr. is one of those key people/players that helped make those opportunities possible…..
Ray’s father, Ray Sr. spoke as did his mom Anne, and they both talked about how proud they are of their son and tried to relate the fact that all of this never would have happened without a lot of hard work and a lot of travel to get to where they are and to where they need to be today…
You have to travel and go find the opportunities, where the opposition is going to give you a challenge, and make you a better player and a much better person through the process.
Ray’s parents said they have his back as he moves forward and many other people told him the same and Ray Jr.’s grandparents said they will be looking over his shoulder while the other members of his support group, watch his back.
Several teammates spoke and congratulated Ray Jr. as the floor was open to comments and several friends of the family also spoke and they too, congratulated Ray Ray and told him that the hard work has only just begun. Among those to speak were Mr. Moore(Alex Moore’s dad), Mr. Shabazz(Jabril Shabazz’s dad), the president of the Dudley Booster Club and many others.
One of the area’s favorite umpires and a key Guilford County Schools System employee, Big John Mann, spoke and he brought home some very important remarks:
“On the field and off the field, be careful and be humble. Respect your family and your teammates. You’ve been given an opportunity, use it wisely. Young kids will be looking up to you and they and many others will be watching, when you don’t even realize that they are looking on.”
Mr. Tavis Neal, local coach and close friend of the family spoke last and he said they all have come a long way:
If you need help we have been, and will always be there for you. Keep your grades up so you can stay on the team. Do the right thing and remember, Right or Wrong, if you need help we have been and we will always be there for you. You may be on your way to becoming a Spartan, but we have always been Aggies and we will be, Aggies For Life”….
(The entire group of Mr. Neal, Mr. Ray Crawford, Ray Jr., Tevin Neal and many other kids from Dudley and other communities all started out on an AGGIE youth team many years ago. The team was not necessarily supported by N.C. A&T, but they used the Aggie name and it has been with them ever since.)
Ray Crawford Jr. has a huge support system and they all do, have his back and they will be there for him no matter the circumstances.
FOX8 TV was there last night, as was Tom Keller from the News and Record and many others from in around the Dudley baseball community. Tony and Cal Sutphin were there from over in the Southwest Guilford baseball community and Greensboro Batting Center business and team leader, Alan Ashkinazy, could not be there last night due to a recent hip replacement surgery…..
A good night for a Gathering of Family and Friends to support Ray Crawford Jr. last night at J. Butler’s on High Point Road……
*****We will have pictures to follow.*****