Bessemer High baseball team that won 1963 state championship holds reunion

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It has been 55 years since the team won the 1963 State Baseball Championship for Bessemer High School in Greensboro.

Ironically it was the last year the school operated as a high school.

Several members of the team reunited recently and FOX8 was there. These men are proud of their accomplishment and old Bessemer lives on through their memories.

“Good people, Good ball players and good families,” Richard Straughn said.

The bond created all those years ago is still very strong.

“They were together 12 years, most of them, and now you go to different schools all the time. You don't have anything you stay with a long period time,” Jackie Joyce said.

“We played baseball together all those years. You just build a family-type bond about it and you want to see each one of your players succeed and do the very best that they can do," Joe Baker added.

The sport of baseball had a lot to do with it too. It was clearly the national pastime in the early 1960s.

“Baseball at the time was a way of life," Elwood Baker said. "If you didn't play baseball -- you just thought it was your duty to play baseball”

Even when they weren't playing organized baseball, they were playing baseball somewhere on an open field in Greensboro.

“I tell my grandchildren today I had more at bats on a Saturday then they have for a whole season. That's true! It was just a way of life," Elwood Baker said.

Bessemer beat Chapel Hill in two straight games in the championship series. While many of the memories have faded with time, one remains crystal clear. A catch made by center fielder Straughn.

“Fella hit a line shot, I took off after it. I got it. I got it. I kept running kept running,” Straughn said.

“Richard went completely out of sight, Nobody saw him,” Joe Baker added. "Back then, the field had lights but no fence and Straughn ran out of the light.”

“I ran into darkness back there and all of sudden it hit my glove right in the pocket,” Straughn said.

Bessemer High merged with Page High School the following academic year.

“Bessemer High School was probably a class-A school playing triple-A baseball. I graduated with 74 kids in my class. I mean there weren't too many running around on campus not playing baseball if they could contribute to the team,” Elwood Baker said.

While Bessemer High no longer exists, it is still going strong through these reunions and still going strong because it helped create lasting friendships.

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