HiToms find a way to play amid pandemic
from Michael Lindsay, with the High Point Enterprise
In a summer absent of most sports, the HiToms were playing baseball.
After the coronavirus pandemic shut down college and high school sports in the spring, the organization had a pivotal decision to make: to go ahead with a summer schedule or not.
And it completed its seasons with much success — including two championships.
“When we define success now in our organization,” said HiToms president Greg Suire, “I define it in a simple way: Did we move the franchise forward, and did we incrementally serve more people? And we did. And we served the people we have the most responsibility to — the players.”
High Point-Thomasville sponsored five teams — most notably its NC3 team, which was mainly for high school players normally on its American Legion team, and its Coastal Plain League team, which was for college players — and coordinated play for more than 1,000 players.
The logic was simple: If they could safely play, then the HiToms were going to play, Suire said.
“One thing that helped me through this whole process of deciding to play, to be perfectly honest, was my daughter was a senior at Bishop McGuinness,” Suire said. “I could see her struggles with missing out on things that we all accept as rights of passage — whether it’s prom or it’s your last day of school or it’s Senior Night for baseball.
“And in March and April when I saw her struggling with that, I thought, ‘I can’t do this to my kids.’ If I’m a HiTom for life and I tell these kids they’ve got to believe it, then I have to believe it as well. I don’t play anymore. What I do is prepare the culture for these young people to play. And I had to get that environment ready, even if it was a scaled-down version.”
In the time leading up to their normal starting date in late May, High Point-Thomasville received bad news. The American Legion program at both the state and national level announced it wouldn’t play.
Then, the Coastal Plain League decided it would only operate in a minor role. Essentially the league allowed teams that wanted to play to do so and use the CPL name and website, but that was about it — otherwise they were on their own.
But, in accordance with the rules and guidelines from the state, the HiToms decided to go ahead. Suire got in touch with the Legion programs in Asheboro, Salisbury and Lexington and began forming the 11-team NC3 league.
Suire, who operates CPL teams in Wilson and Martinsville, also talked with those teams plus Peninsula about starting a division mirroring the Southern Division that comprised Macon, Lexington County and Savannah.
“I sat there when Asheboro pulled out and said, ‘What are we going to do?’ ” he said. “Five minutes later, I got on the phone with the general manager in Wilson and the general manager in Martinsville and Peninsula and said, ‘All right, we’re going to start our own four-team league.’
“And we were able to partner with some of the other independent summer college teams to fill in our schedule, and sure enough June 26 we played ball.”
CLICK HERE to read more, and their is quite a bit more to read, from Michael Lindsay, believe me….