Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflector
Sam Narron spoke during the Pitt-Greenville Hot Stove baseball banquet at J.H. Rose on Wednesday. (Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflector)
By Ronnie Woodward
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Serving as the featured speaker at the 24th annual Pitt-Greenville Hot Stove League banquet, Sam Narron spent about 30 minutes on Wednesday night telling stories about playing baseball at East Carolina and traveling all over the country as a minor league player.
But he got the most excitement out of sharing tales of his baseball days outside of the country, specifically playing in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela during the winter as a minor leaguer. During those games, he said, baseball had a European soccer feel to it.
“It’s noise from the first pitch to the last pitch,” he said. “They’ve got cheerleaders, they’ve got horns, they’ve got drums. We had bands that would walk over the top of the dugout during the inning. It was unbelievable, but it’s a special type of baseball and they really, really love it.”
Narron, who was an All-American at ECU in 2001 and helped the Pirates win the Wilson Regional that season, said those kind of moments mixed with the more serious memories he has from playing for late Pirate coach Keith LeClair made his baseball career unforgettable.
The Goldsboro native is still involved in the game as a pitching coach for the Auburn Doubledays, a Single-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Narron spent almost 10 years in the minors, mainly with the Milwaukee Brewers organization, and made one major league start with the Texas Rangers in 2004.
He played against MLB star Josh Hamilton and got to hang out with standouts Prince Fielder and Ben Sheets during spring training, but he said his baseball roots and foundation began in eastern North Carolina.
Now as a coach for the Doubledays, Narron said he is trying to share his knowledge with young players who are in similar positions as he was when he left East Carolina to begin his professional career.
“To get this opportunity that I have as quickly as I did, I feel very fortunate,” said Narron, who is one of nine from his extended family to have played pro baseball. “From the knowledge that I’ve gained from all the great influences during my baseball career, I’d love to give back half of that. But it’s been a blast and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Although much of the night was about Narron, the organization also distributed awards and scholarships to current locals.
J.H. Rose graduate and former UNC Wilmington player Andrew Cain was named the amateur player of the year and Lucas Harrison received the volunteer coach of the year award. Jehneil House and David Taylor were awarded scholarships.
Mark Phillips and the Stallings family were recognized for their contributions to local baseball.
Early in his speech, Narron told the young players in attendance to take advantage of the opportunities the game can provide.
“Cherish all the teammates that you have and the guys that you play against because chances are you’re going to run into them somewhere down the road,” Narron said. “It’s such a small world with this game.”
Contact Ronnie Woodward at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9592 or follow@RonnieW11 on Twitter.
HOT STOVE BASEBALL
via The Daily Reflector.