E.A. Sports Today

Oxford wants to play ball

City officials send out feelers to bring minor-league baseball team to the new Choccolocco Park

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Could minor-league baseball be back in Calhoun County’s future?

With the opening of the new Choccolocco Park later this spring, it could happen. Maybe not this spring, but soon.

Oxford parks and rec director Don Hudson confirmed the city has put out “feelers” to “several different” organizations from Rookie to Double-A “to let them know we have the facility.” He declined to identify the teams contacted.

The county hasn’t had minor-league baseball since the pre- and post-war Anniston Rams at Johnston Field. The Rams were a Class B affiliate of the Pirates, Dodgers and White Sox.

“I have found a lot of people like minor-league baseball now better; I think it’d go over big,” said Sam Phillips, a member of the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame board. “I think the youngsters don’t get excited about wanting to watch major-league teams on TV and they don’t go to games. To see some kind of professional baseball would be fine.”

The park was scheduled to open with an Oxford softball game Monday and the Yellow Jackets’ baseball team was set to open the signature stadium March 11, but park officials said no games will be played there until April 1 due to “liability issues.”

The complex already is set to host this year’s Ohio Valley Conference softball tournament and the 2017 Dixie Youth World Series

HOLD THE JAM: The matchups are set for the Calhoun County Spring Jam spring football series, but where the event will be played remains somewhat in question.

The traditional venue has been Jacksonville State, but officials there have plans to replace the stadium’s artificial turf. A proposal for the project is on the university president’s desk and if undertaken would begin immediately after JSU’s spring practice, April 9.

The school is about a year behind replacing the turf, although athletics department officials maintain the surface is still in good shape.

JSU has told Spring Jam organizers they hoped to let them know by March 1.

If the event doesn’t go at JSU, the games will be played at Saks High School. Pleasant Valley is the host.

Here are the matchups: Alexandria-Weaver, White Plains-Saks, Wellborn-Ohatchee and Pleasant Valley-Pisgah.

SPORTS AUCTION: The annual sports memorabilia auction to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of East Central Alabama is Saturday at the Anniston Meeting Center.

Among the highlight items are signed MLB baseballs by Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, John Smoltz and Phil Niekro, several Daniel Moore prints and a football signed by Jax State’s 2015 playoff team.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with a barbecue meal provided by Betty’s Bar-B-Q starting at 6. Tickets are $20 and are available through the Boys & Girls Club office (236-7050) or Joe Estep (453-4151).

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