Take on Pirate Sports
From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, March 9, 2005
By Brian Bailey
Magic moments for the ages
Friday, March 4th will go down
as one of those days that many of us will never forget.
I arrived at Clark-LeClair
stadium a good hour and a half before game time just to walk around the park
to see the new home for East Carolina baseball from several vantage points.
There isn’t a bad seat in the
It’s funny, but the baseball
program was so good through the years for the most part, that you really
didn’t notice the shortcomings of Harrington Field. Now, you wonder how
coaches ever recruited with a facility like that.
The new Pirate “jewel” won’t
have any problem luring recruits. It is like a smaller version of a big
league park. It is stunningly beautiful, and is considered one of the top
baseball venues in the nation.
I had heard the rave reviews,
and they were all on target. Fans spent most of Friday morning gawking at
the new “Pirate Palace” for baseball.
Pirate fans, like me, can be
critical at times. But the stadium passed on all levels of criticism. I
don’t think I heard one negative comment the entire weekend!
For my money, the best seats
in the house are just behind the two dugouts. You’d better pay attention,
though, because it feels like you are actually sharing third base duties
with Mark Minicozzi.
The best part of the weekend
was watching the opening ceremonies, which featured former Pirate Coach
I don’t get by to see the
coach as often as I would like, but I did drop by on that Thursday before
the home opener.
Brian Meador — my former
co-worker at WNCT-TV who is now at WITN-TV — and I went by and gave Coach
LeClair the Boston Red Sox World Series DVD. LeClair, a huge Red Sox fan,
says the curse is now with my beloved Cubs.
Coach LeClair said the DVD
couldn’t be more the 15 minutes long, because that’s about how long it took
Boston to whip St. Louis in the World Series. We laughed, and knew the coach
had a great point. ALS robbed Keith of so many things, but his personality
still shines through.
Keith told me to make sure
that I got a good shot of his children, Audrey and J.D., as they were
throwing out the first pitch in the new stadium.
Lynn, Keith’s wife, said there
was a little sibling rivalry about the pitch. Audrey went with an off speed
pitch, while J.D. threw a hard one low and away. They were both naturals on
The most defining moment of
the weekend was seeing Coach LeClair back on the field at East Carolina.
Fittingly, he was wrapped in a Pirate blanket. Lynn pushed the wheelchair to
home plate as the crowd gave the coach a standing ovation.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the
place. It was one of those situations in life where you don’t look around.
You’re certainly not ashamed to cry because the emotions were overwhelming.
Keith LeClair had a vision to
move Pirate baseball to another level. On this Friday in March, Coach
LeClair was there to see it.
With a sparkling new gem of a
ballpark, the pressure was on Randy Mazey’s club to put on a good show.
They did just that!
The Pirates opened the park on
that Friday with a thrilling 2-1 win over a very good and underrated
Coach Mazey said it was
fitting that the ball park was inaugurated with an “old fashioned” type of
The Pirates lost the second
game of the Keith LeClair Classic to Arizona State 10-3. I’m certainly not
making excuses, but I could swear that I heard the voice of former NFL Films
great John Facenda at one point, in his deep voice, intoning about the
“frozen tundra of Clark-LeClair Stadium.”
It was brutally cold, and the
umpire was making Mike Flye put the baseball in about a five inch square
before he would call a strike. It was a long, cold night for the Pirates.
East Carolina bounced back
nicely on Sunday, whipping Georgia 7-1. The victory put an exclamation point
on an outstanding weekend of baseball.
Clark-LeClair Stadium is a
“Field of Dreams.” In the movie, Ray Kinsella heard the voices saying, “If
you build it he (they) will come.”
Pirate fans came in droves for
the Classic, as each days attendance bested the school record. Despite the
cold, Saturday night’s game featured the largest baseball crowd in school
If you haven’t made it out to
the ballpark yet, you need to do so. Clark-LeClair Stadium is the crown
jewel for collegiate baseball. It indeed rivals anything, anywhere.
Credit also goes out to the
Bill Clark family, for donating 1.5 million dollars towards the facility,
and for getting Coach LeClair’s name on the park.
East Carolina will get to
Omaha someday soon.
On the way, the Pirates and
their fans will enjoy what will be an awesome regional and super regional at
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02/23/2007 01:31:35 AM