Former Major League Baseball pitcher Chris Hammond donated $5,000 to the school from his foundation, which helps assist rural school sports programs throughout Alabama.
Spring Garden plans to use the money to help complete a batting cage for its softball teams.
“The donation came as a big surprise,” Spring Garden softball coach Ann Welsh said. “It was more than expected, and it’s greatly appreciated. This money helped complete the total that was needed for our project. We plan on building a covered batting cage to begin with, and hopefully in the future be able to enclose the building.”
Spring Garden principal Mike Welsh said the school is “very appreciative” for Hammond’s generosity.
“It is wonderful to have people like Mr. Hammond willing to help smaller, rural schools in such an extraordinary way,” Mike Welsh said.
Hammond played baseball at Vestavia Hills High School near Birmingham. He played collegiately at Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Fla., and then at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
Hammond was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the sixth round of the 1986 Major League Baseball Draft and pitched in the majors from 1990-2006 with seven clubs (Reds, Florida Marlins, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Oakland A’s and San Diego Padres).
His foundation, the Chris Hammond Youth Foundation, is a non-profit organization designed to financially assist in constructing and maintaining recreation and athletic facilities in rural Alabama communities.
“I believe that athletics can serve as a foundation for the development of strong character in the lives of children,” Hammond says on his foundation’s mission statement (www.hammondfoundation.org). “Athletics provide an environment where children can learn virtues such as discipline, teamwork, dedication, honesty, and respect for authority.
“Growing up in Vestavia, I was blessed with facilities both in the community and at church to play baseball and basketball. I want to see the Chris Hammond Youth Foundation make the same impact for kids in rural Alabama, and 100-percent of the money raised will be directed to furthering this goal.”
Hammond and his family now reside in Wedowee, Ala.
Speaking of softball, the Cherokee County Invitational hosted by Sand Rock High School will be held on Friday and Saturday at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Softball Complex.
A total of 18 teams will be participating, including Cedar Bluff, Cherokee County, Collinsville, Gaylesville, Piedmont, Sand Rock, Spring Garden, Crossville, Fort Payne, Fyffe, Gadsden City, Gaston, Geraldine, Glencoe, Hokes Bluff, Ider, Jacksonville Christian and West End. Friday’s competition will be pool play, while Saturday will be a single-elimination bracket format.
Friday’s action begins at 4 p.m. Saturday’s action begins at 9 a.m. The tournament championship is scheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m.
Here’s an update on a couple of area baseball players now playing in college.
Jacksonville State University junior and Cherokee County High School graduate Coty Blanchard drove in six runs on three hits, including a home run, as the Gamecocks claimed a 20-2 win over UT Martin on Friday in Martin, Tenn.
Through 17 games, Blanchard is batting .235 for the Gamecocks (8-9, 2-1 Ohio Valley Conference). He has eight walks, seven stolen bases, four doubles, three home runs, two triples, 16 runs and 14 RBIs.
Sand Rock product and Freed-Hardeman senior outfielder Justin Mackey had a pair of RBI-singles and finished the game with three RBIs on Friday as the Lions claimed a 9-3 win over Tougaloo (Miss.) College. The Lions (19-2-1) completed the series sweep on Saturday by claiming 9-2 and 10-1 victories.
Mackey is batting .414 for the season. He has seven walks, seven stolen bases, five doubles, a home run, 21 runs and 27 RBIs.
Player registration for the Weiss Lake Soccer Association in Cherokee County has begun. Registration will continue through March 30. The player registration fee for the spring season is $25.
Free soccer player introductory clinics are being offered on Saturdays throughout March at the Dixie Youth soccer field located along Alabama Hwy. 9 South in Centre.
For more information about registering a player for the spring soccer season or for attending a free player clinic, please contact Barry Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (256) 630-0668.