According to Lauren Jefferson, Wayland “Wally” Long was a talented pitcher in the Rockingham County Baseball League when an accident took two fingers from his right hand.
“He only missed one season, and then he returned,” she said. “People told him he should give up, but he was determined and he came back.”
Jefferson said Long, who played as an outfielder after his accident, proved he was still a valuable teammate, and went on to play for a total of 22 years.
As one of the 12 players selected this year to be inducted into the RCBL Hall of Fame on June 29, Long’s inspiring story will be preserved for future generations of local sports fans. Jefferson, a Hall of Fame committee member and lifelong baseball lover, is pleased the Hall was established last year to recognize exceptional players.
“The League will celebrate its 90th year next year, so we’re trying to acknowledge the people who helped with that longevity,” she remarked.
In addition to Long, other 2013 inductees include Norman “Ozzie” Armentrout, Tom Bocock, Roscoe Burgess, Harry Harlow, Fred Hill, A.C. Jenkins, Steve Lough, Jim Nichols, Keith Spitzer, Bob Wease and Wayne Whitmore.
“All these guys have great stories,” Jefferson said. “Roscoe Burgess is the Jackie Robinson of the county league — he was the first black man to play in a segregated league and he really opened the door.”
Mike Burtner, the RCBL commissioner, agreed that many players have great stories, and said selecting only 12 inductees wasn’t easy.
“It’s difficult [to choose] given it’s in its 90th year,” he said. “We have to weigh people who played in different eras.”
Burtner said the decision was made by the nominating committee, as well as players already inducted into the Hall of Fame. However, he added that anyone is allowed to submit a nomination for consideration.
According to Burtner, the ceremony is sponsored by both the RCBL and the Shenandoah Valley Baseball and Softball Academy in Bridgewater.
The proceeds benefit both groups.
“We’ll probably earmark [the profits] for future use with the Hall of Fame effort,” Burtner said, adding that the SVBSA plans to use their share to support their traveling baseball team.
The ceremony will begin with a buffet dinner, and each inductee will be presented with a plaque and given the opportunity to speak.
Jefferson remembered the speeches as being the highlight of last year’s event.
“They are some of the best storytellers,” she recalled, adding that the night was full of laughter and fraternity. While the occasion also serves as a reunion for many, Jefferson thinks any sports lover will enjoy the evening.
“I never saw these guys play and it’s still fun for me,” she said. “If you love baseball, you will be at home at this event because it’s all about a love of baseball.”
Contact Katie King at (540) 574-6271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested In Attending?
The Rockingham County Baseball League Hall of Fame induction ceremony will held at 6 p.m. June 29 at the Weyers Cave Community Center.
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at rcblonline.com or the Bat Company, 205 Main St., Bridgewater. Buffet dinner is included.