Just who is this Grady Lawson fellow and how is he helping kids from Guilford County? Well it all goes back to 1970 when this man who was the local manager at the NAPA auto parts store decided to get into the baseball business.
Grady Lawson managed that NAPA store in Ramseur, which is down in Randolph County, for 32 years. Thirty-two years, that’s a long time to be in the auto parts business, but Grady has been running the Eastern Randolph Post 81 baseball team a lot longer than that. Grady has been “The Man” when it comes to operating the Post 81 club now going on 38 years.
Thirty-eight years of finding the players, scouting talent, raising money and doing all the things to make sure that Post 81 can survive and field a team. Grady makes sure that every player has money so they can purchase a meal after the games. With right at 20 players, that’s well over $100.00 per game just for meal money. Grady also lines up the vans that transport all the players to the away games like the one we were watching over at Finch Field in High Point on Wednesday night.
Before you get to the game you have to get the uniforms and there are Legion baseball league fees and then you have to pay the umpires and that runs you right at $160.00 per game, eighty bucks per man on the two man crew.
Grady Lawson is doing all this work and the only coaching he gets to do is from the stands while he is watching the game. On this particular Wednesday night Eastern Randolph Post 81 is in the playoffs going up against the HiToms the legion team out of High Point/Thomasville. At the start the HiToms lead the best-of-five series one game to none and by game’s end Post 81 has dropped another tough one falling 4-3 to the HiToms. Post 81 lost game one of the series 10-3 so maybe things are looking up as the series resumes on Thursday evening at Eastern Randolph.
Grady Lawson who is now 77 years old recruits his players from Eastern Randolph HS, Chatam Central, Jordan Matthews, North Moore, and from Southeast Guilford. Southeast Guilford, that’s where we come in. Grady pulled in four Falcons this year with Ben Areno, Adam Stone, Dustin Nelson, and Jody Hackett. Grady lost Hackett and Post 81 teammate Scott Riddle early to Elon University football. Hackett is going to Elon as a linebacker and Riddle quarterbacked Eastern Randolph to the State 3-A championship last season.
Areno is the Post 81 center fielder, Stone plays shortstop(he was the catcher for SEG), and Dustin Nelson is a pitcher. Nelson is headed to NC State in the fall on academics, Grady said he scored 1600 on his SAT’s, and Grady also said Nelson has really pitched well for Post 81 this summer. Grady is trying very hard to get Ben Areno into a college. Lawson says Areno has the grades but he wants him playing baseball somewhere. They’ve talked to Appalachian and many other schools but no baseball for Ben. I would love to see Keith Shumate at NC A&T offer Ben a scholarship. If you can help Grady and Ben in this area let us know. I believe Grady said Stone is headed to GTCC where he would play for coach John Barrow who went to Ragsdale and his dad has Ralph Barrow Auto Sales up in Eden.
The Post 81 squad also has a couple of current college players on the roster including one from Guilford College and the Post 81 Junior Legion team has Tiger Miller and Josh Tobias from the freshman class at Southeast Guilford working hard this summer. Josh’s dad, Andrew Tobias, works with the kids when Post 81 is idle and when Mr. “T” starts his training sessions you better pack a lunch.
As you can tell by now, Grady Lawson is doing quite a bit to help the Guilford County kids that make the trip to play baseball for Post 81. Grady loves baseball and he puts his heart and soul into getting this team ready each season. Who is his all-time best or favorite player?
We’ll have to go back to the mid-1970’s and the big game with Asheboro. It just so happens that Eastern Randolph beat Asheboro one real hot night in July and the Asheboro fans did not take too kindly to it. A huge fight broke out as Post 81 was trying to get out of the gate and leave the ballpark at McCrary Field in Asheboro. Grady says one young man led his team through that crowd of unruly fans on that muggy evening in July.
That young man was Joey Hackett out of Southern Guilford High School who later starred at Elon and with the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys. “Hackett took ’em all on and cleared the way out of there”, said Grady Lawson. “Hackett hit one man upside the head and the fella thought a Mule had kicked him in the face”. Hackett was and still is the man. Joey Hackett’s son Jody is the Hackett kid that played for Post 81 this season.
Let’s remember that Grady Lawson is doing all this work but still doesn’t coach. The coaching duties fall to a man named Charles Arrington, or at least that’s who I think they say is coaching the team. The only guy I know from Post 81 is Grady Lawson, the man who has been doing the hard work behind the scenes for over 38 years. Grady says the hardest part is still finding the players. “I’ll take every kid from Southeast Guilford that I can get, but it’s just tough to get them all”.
Grady has a huge banquet planned for the players after the season at the Post 81 hall down in Randolph County or they may move to Captain Tom’s Seafood if the crowds grow like they did last year. Grady also wants to take the team to an Atlanta Braves game after the Post 81 season is complete.
Thank-you Grady Lawson for the hard work you have put in over the last 38 years and I’m sure Joey Hackett will still back you up if you get into any tight corners. Thanks also to Keith Miller who lined up the trip to historic Finch Field, home of the HiToms and home to some baseball fun in the summer.