from the Lynchburg News and Advance July 24, 2009:
Former Guilford College Quaker baseball star Tony Womack was the featured speaker at the NABF World Series in Lynchburg, Virginia. We had several local kids up there in the tournament from the Guilford County area(R&B Aggies, plus North Chatham Tar Heels) and they all had the chance, to hear Tony speak, we hope………..
I came across this today while researching semi-pro football in the Danville, Virginia area and this popped up since Tony Womack came out of Gretna High School near Danville. The Gretna Hawks, also right near Altavista and Chatham, Virginia………
The Tony Womack talk:
After speaking at Thursday nightâ€™s National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series opening ceremonies at City Stadium, and throwing out the first pitch before the Lynchburg Hillcats played the Potomac Nationals, former Major League World Series champion Tony Womack shared some quality time with players from his alma mater.
The 1987 Gretna, Virginia HS graduate who batted leadoff for the 2001 champion Arizona Diamondbacks, met with members of the Hawksâ€™ high school team participating in the NABF tournament, gathered under a tent down the first-base line.
â€œIâ€™m living proof you donâ€™t have to be the biggest or the greatest, you just have to prepare to do everything right,â€ said Womack, making only his second trip to City Stadium and first since 1983, when he saw the Dwight Gooden and Lenny Dykstra-led Lynchburg Mets. â€œItâ€™s the mental aspect.
â€œIf you catch the routine balls and make the routine plays every time, youâ€™ll win nine out of 10 games,â€ added Womack, who had a .965 career fielding percentage while making both routine and acrobatic plays at second base. â€œYou give them one extra out and youâ€™ll lose seven out of 10 times.â€
Talking to close to 1,000 players from 50 teams on hand for the opening ceremonies, Womack encouraged them to stay away from alcohol and drugs, including steroids, and do the work needed to advance through the baseball ranks.
â€œYou have the God-given talent on the field,â€ he said. â€œYou know how to make the plays. It takes talent to win the World Series championship.â€
But, he emphasized, it also takes heart.
â€œTo play the game it takes effort,â€ he said. â€œIt doesnâ€™t take talent to get that effort in there,â€ pointing to his chest.
Womack said steroids may provide power, but they also create health hazards that have shortened careers.
â€œYou get crazy injuries from using steroids,â€ he said. â€œI donâ€™t feel cheated (by those who have used them). Theyâ€™re cheating themselves. I never drank, never smoked because I didnâ€™t need it. â€œI stayed clean â€¦ and played 13 (Major League) seasons.â€
He never played in the NABF, but would have liked to before being drafted out of Guilford College by the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he played the first five years of his Major League career.
â€œEvery step that you take, the game gets faster,â€ Womack said. â€œThatâ€™s why I like the wooden bats (used by NABF and MLB).â€
The NABF, the oldest continuously operated national baseball organization in the United States, has groomed more than its share of Major Leaguers.
â€œWeâ€™ve produced a lot of good ballplayers,â€ said NABF executive director Charles Blackburn, noting nearly the entire starting lineup from the 1990 World Series champion Cincinnati Reds played in the league.
Blackburn, who has served as executive director since 1987, is only the third person to hold that title since the organizationâ€™s inception in 1914.
â€œNormally, the good Lord retires us,â€ said Blackburn, who once served as a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates. â€œThe great thing about it is itâ€™s an all-volunteer organization.â€
Blackburn said this is one of the first times a city has hosted two NABF World Series â€” the high school (17-and-under) and sophomore (14-and-under) divisions â€” at the same time.
â€œItâ€™s a big boost to a town,â€ he said. â€œFifty teams (over five days) equates to $5 million to the Lynchburg area because all of the teams come in with families and they visit restaurants and stay at hotels and buy gas.â€
He praised the town of Altavista for rebuilding its War Memorial Park field, used by the high school team, before hosting the NABF sophomore divisionâ€™s first games Wednesday night.
â€œItâ€™d just been run down and now itâ€™s a showcase field, with new dugouts and a new sprinkler and irrigation system,â€ he said. â€œThey collected that money from the community and the city matched it. Itâ€™s very inspirational to see the community come together like that.â€