E.A. Sports Today

Special night

Deerman brothers coach against each other again, but first time since dad’s election to County Sports Hall of Fame

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — The second round of the brothers battle was well underway at chilly Choccolocco Park Tuesday night and there was Mike Deerman standing in the most neutral and warmest place he could find.

His sons’ baseball teams had played once before this season and Deerman was one of the first arrivals, picking out a spot in the exact middle of the stands so not to give the impression of favoritism towards either of his boys’ teams.

He was in a similar position Tuesday night, standing directly behind home plate under the cover of the concession stand to fight off the wind.

This time, it was Jacksonville and Piedmont in the Calhoun County Tournament semifinals, but this one had a different feel to it – and it had nothing to do with the chilly temperatures they were playing in.

It wasn’t so much that Matt Deerman and older brother David were playing each other, but it was the first time they’ve gone head-to-head since their dad was elected to the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame.

Mike Deerman will be enshrined as part of the 13th induction class during ceremonies June 17 at the Oxford Civic Center. He’ll go into the Class of 2017 with football standouts Stanley Bell, Jerry Ray and Ricky Weems, game official Billy Ferguson and golfer Chip Howell.

He’s a second generation Deerman in the Hall. His dad, the brothers’ grandfather, Van, was among the inaugural eight inductees in 2005.

Mike was an all-district basketball player at Jacksonville High School in 1964 and 1965, where he was coached by his father. After graduating from Jacksonville State, he taught and coached at Weaver High School for 30 years where, he said, “the people have been good to me.” The gym there bears his name.

He was varsity basketball coach for 25 years and was coach of the year four times. His teams made eight postseason appearances. Overall, his teams won more than 450 games and combined with his father’s ledger the Deermans have won nearly 1,000 games.

“I really didn’t expect it,” Mike said of his election. “We never won a county championship, the record wasn’t good. I was in it a long time. I think I’ve influenced a lot of young men and helped them out.”

Two were standing in the third-base coach’s box of the game he was watching.

“My daddy, and not because he’s my daddy, he’s been a class act from the time I’ve known him,” David said. “He’s a classy guy, a great coach; he won a lot of lot of ballgames without a lot of talent and that says a lot for his coaching ability. I couldn’t be prouder to call him dad.”

“We’re all super excited about it; it was hard to keep it a secret when we found out,” Matt said. “He deserves it. He’s the man that made us who we are and he’s the reason why we’re doing what we’re doing. A lot of what we do is a reflection of what he taught us growing up as kids. Regardless of what happened here, we owe everything we are now to our dad.”

David’s Jacksonville team won the first meeting between the brothers 2-0 at Piedmont, but on this night Matt’s Bulldogs got even, pounding 12 hits in a 13-6 win. Easton Kirk went 4-for-4 with five RBIs and was the front part of back-to-back homers with Taylor Morrow.

“We couldn’t get them out,” David said. “They swung it, put a ton of balls in play, had some big hits, hit the deep ball. At the top of their lineup we couldn’t get them out and the bottom of their order were tough outs, too. They whipped us today. Matt did a good job today. They outplayed us.”

“The magnitude of the game wasn’t me versus my brother,” Matt said. “Our team set a goal the first practice we had with everybody there that they wanted to win this county championship, our seniors did, and they’ve gotten there and now we want to finish.”

That part didn’t happen as the Bulldogs had hoped. Oxford won the final 5-3 to repeat as county champions. The teams play again on the same pod field they played on Tuesday night Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Cover photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos

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