Dane Pevay

One of the pleasures in writing for a competitive sports magazine is the chance to write about the sons and daughters of friends or former team mates. To see the “full circle” in a generation is for sure uplifting and special. Back in the middle 70’s I became associated with the Pevay family from both sides. Joey Pevay was an avid and gifted baseball player from Arkansas High School, who has been inducted into the Arkansas American Legion Hall of Fame, and Joey’s, wife to be, was a ninth grade student of mine when I was coaching at Liberty Eylau High School. I also played fast pitch and slow pitch softball with Joey’s brother Danny on a team called the Hosiers. Being involved in competitive sports with the Peavy brothers allows me to understand the passion and the enthusiasm that is bottled up inside their son Dane. You see Dane just became the 90th coach in the history of American Legion Baseball to win the National Championship. Now this is not “just” a championship. This team was the last team standing out of some 3400 teams, nation wide, that competed for the title. On top of that, at Dane Peavy’s first team meeting of the season, Texarkana, Arkansas, Post 58 manager told his players that he thought they were good enough to not only get to the Legion World Series, but he also thought they could win it all. Coach Peavy really believed it, and On Tuesday………. in front of 8,486 fans at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, North Carolina, his team lived up to the calling.
I began my interview with Dane by sharing some memories that I had, back in the day, with his dad Joey. Because I had followed the Peavy tradition through out the years and because I already knew how passionate Joey was I was pretty sure what was going to be said by his son Dane. And I was right. Dane started by saying that his dad had always taught him that if he was going to do something, then do it to the best of your ability and to finish what you start. It was kinda funny that Dane recalled the week he took swimming lessions from my wife. He said, “I can remember the week I had swimming lessons I wanted to be the best that I could be.” Now that is reaching back in your bag of principals. He also said that the influience his dad had on him has stuck with him forever.
I then ask Dane what his feelings were after winning the whole enchalata and he laughed and said that it was a trophy that he had been chasing for seven or eight years. “It has always been in my mind but I really never thought I could stand here and accept the praise”, he said. Our goal was to get to regionals and to be competitive. We looked at the national trophy as something of a dream, in many occassions, dreams do come true. We just felt that we would have to have a large amount of luck along with a near perfect performance to ever reach the finals. To actually win the whole thing is something entirely different.
The first day in competition we lost to a very tough team and I told my crew that it had been a great run. He remarked, “we can hold our heads high and be proud of the success we have had.” If it doesn’t work out like we want it to, we have still had a great year. We went into the second game without the pressure of the first one, and played loose and won. We then went into the third game and played loose and won. I again made the same speech of,”if it end here we have had a great season. We had made it to the final four and I told the kids that if it ends tonight, we have had a wonderful season and tremendous run. We can say final four in the nation, just a great deal. We then junmped up and won the next game putting us into the championship game. At this point we were looking at each other and started to believe that we could take it all. I did say again that it’s been a great year, but, i changed my speech to, WE REALLY NEED TO WIN THIS ONE!” One thing Dane said that I thought was awesome is that his team could not really comprehend the impact that winning and unifying the state of Arkansas with a national championship would have on it’s people. He said, “I think I had over 300 text messages from people all over the state congradulating us on the victory and bringing the trophy to Arkansas.” I also had eight or ten radom calls from across the United States complimenting us on winning the national championship. Veterns were very thankful in how the Arkansas Post 58 had put the pride of Arkansas on the map. This years tournament was only the second year that it has been televised. With the TV coverage it had a lot of the flavor as the Little League Worldseries. Another element of the game that generated more excitement was the extra inning battle. Ten innings of action packed baseball is hard to not get involved in.
After 12 innings of play, Texarkana, Ark., Post 58 defeats Rowan County, N.C., Post 342 8-6 to become the 2016 American Legion World Series champions on Tuesday, August 16, 2016.

Texarkana, Ark., Post 58 7, Leesburg, Va., Post 34 5. Another day, another Arkansas comeback.

For the second straight day, Texarkana fell behind 3-0. And for the second straight game, the Razorbacks rallied. Down 3-0 after the first inning Sunday, Texarkana (40-5) put together big rallies in the second and fourth innings and then held off a late charge by Leesburg and earn a spot in Monday’s semifinals against Rockport, Ind.

“I’m just proud of these guys,” said Texarkana manager Dane Peavy, whose team improved to 2-1 in pool play. “They battle tooth and nail for each other and give you everything they’ve got. We knew that we needed to win. And we knew that we had a good team.”

Virginia, which came into the game 0-2 in pool play, stunned Texarkana with three runs in the top of the first inning. Jack Howard reached on a fielder’s choice and Kurtis Meyer walked. Zach Costello followed with an RBI single, scoring Howard and moving Meyer to third.

Meyer came home on an error, which moved Costello to third. Following a walk, Gus Buscavage singled home Costello to give Leesburg a 3-0 lead.

But Texarkana came back two innings later. Nick Myers, Parker Ribble and Beau Burson all singled to start the inning. Burson drove in Myers, Logan Vidrine followed with a walk, and Riley Orr drew a base on balls to score Ribble.

Matt Goodheart’s fielder’s choice brought home Burson. Goodheart then stole second and Vidrine came home on a throwing error on the play, giving Texarkana a 4-3 lead.

Texarkana tacked on two more runs in the fourth. Vidrine reached first on an error, and a throwing error on Orr’s ensuing bunt single scored Vidrine and put Orr on second. Two batters later, Blake Hall brought Orr home with a single.

Will Smith’s RBI single scored Hall in the bottom of the seventh, putting Texarkana up 7-3. Leesburg countered with a run in the top of the eighth, and then loaded the bases in the top of the ninth on two singles and an error.

A hit batter brought Leesburg within 7-5, but Razorback relief pitcher Zac Harrington got a strikeout and groundout to close out the game.

Patrick Flanagan (2-1) got the win, allowing just one earned runs in six innings.
After 12 innings of play, Texarkana, Ark., Post 58 defeats Rowan County, N.C., Post 342 8-6 to become the 2016 American Legion World Series champions on Tuesday, August 16, 2016. Photo by Lucas Carter / The American Legion.

THE FATHER OF last year’s National League Rookie of the Year puts a ball on a tee, picks out a point in the upper right corner of the enclosed batting cage and tells a 12-year-old boy to swing away. In his backyard west of the Las Vegas Strip, Mike Bryant is trying to teach yet another kid to be like his son Kris.

Yes, that Kris, the Cubs’ 24-year-old All-Star third baseman. In his first major league season last year, he posted a .369 on-base percentage, 26 home runs and 99 RBIs. As such, Mike’s hitting lessons have picked up — parents want their children coached by the man who brought Kris forth. The man who’s agonized over his own brief pro career and has spent years passing lessons learned from father to son. The man who has become the greatest entry point to Kris, a preternatural talent who prefers to let his on-field play speak for him.

Mike’s student takes an uneasy cut at the teed-up ball and squibs a grounder up the middle. “Elevate it!” Mike says, his Boston accent booming off the walls, a Cubs hat pulled over his bald head. “Feel what your body’s doing.” He adjusts the boy’s feet, tells him to open up his hips a little more. “You need the right knowledge,” Mike says. “Believe me, I’m not wrong. I’ve spent the past 15 years being vindicated and validated.”

As proof, Kris’ likeness hangs in the batting cage on a massive banner that adorned Wrigley Field last season, a gift to Mike from Cubs president Theo Epstein. There’s a jersey Kris wore at the University of San Diego, where he hit 31 home runs in his junior year — more than 223 Division I teams that season — and made himself into the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft. Kris’ bronzed cleats from his first major league at-bat are mounted to a plaque on the wall.

The kid drives a ball to the upper corner.

“See, your body’s telling you what you need to do,” Mike says. “Kris has done that since he was little.”

Another drive to the top corner.

SNEADS, FL Call it a fairly odd dynamic when you mix football, and a father-son relationship.

It’s particularly tricky when a father coaches in son at quarterback.

Such is the dynamic these days at Sneads, as head coach and father Bill Thomas, coaches his quarterback and son Matt.

“I’ve always loved it.” Matt says of the game of football. “I always had a ball in my hand when I was little, but being a coach’s son, you’ve got to play football.”

“When I first went to Arnold on the first interview, he was a newborn baby.” coach Thomas tells us. “And I went and met James Hale (Arnold’s head coach) over at Arnold High School and Janice Salares (Arnold’s Principal) for the first time, that was his first trip outside the house. He was five weeks old. He doesn’t know anything different.”

“It was great. That’s like 15 years of high school football.” Matt says.

A decade and a half building two different relationships. Bill and Matt: father and son, coach and quarterback.

“On the field,” Matt says “it’s totally different. As home, he’s dad. Out here, he’s coach. There’s no in between.”

“The players have a lot of respect. They know I’m gonna be harder on him.” says coach Thomas.

“I always have to work out.” Matt responds. “There’s no exception to that. And I have to be practicing on my best every single day.”

And says coach/Dad, “He doesn’t get to turn it off when we go home.”

As for perhaps finding himself on the wrong side of his father, or head coach, Matt says
“If he says my middle name, that ain’t good.”

“Normally if I’m saying the middle name, I’m not focused on anything else.” says coach. “That’s neat that he still remembers that.”

Actually, the sophomore signal caller’s remembered a lot of Pop’s advice, all ears to prove he’s all in since earning Snead’s starting job.

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