Knox baseball team gets an assist with uniforms
Published 12:05 am Saturday, April 1, 2023
SALISBURY — Steve Clark of Salisbury Parks and Recreation found out on March 10 that the Knox Middle School baseball team didn’t have uniforms, and needed to borrow a dozen baseballs for practice.
Salisbury Police Department Capt. Patrick Smith got word the same day. Both were approached by Gemale Black, the first-time coach of the team. The baseball team had played in a Middle School Baseball Jamboree with just what the players had, which wasn’t much. But most importantly, they played OK.
Clark and Smith reached out to their contacts, and things began to happen. Smith got their baseballs, six dozen new ones donated by Capt. Adrian Gantt of the Salisbury Fire Department, and he also was given a bucket of good used balls for practice.
Clark, a former player and coach at the school, checked out what was available to the team from the school. He found catcher’s gear, a few pairs of used shoes and a bunch of gloves, mostly the less needed versions meant for players who throw left handed. Nothing else.
He and the Salisbury Rowan Runners group provided new team jerseys, printed with a new Knox baseball logo. Karen Leonard and the Doug Gobble Scholarship, honoring an exceptional high school athlete who lost his life in a hunting accident, provided baseball pants and baseball socks. The Trophy House and Snippers provided matching baseball belts. Clark delivered all these uniform pieces just in time for the team to put them on before their first game on March 20 at Erwin.
Smith got new hats ordered, paid for by police officers and attorneys. Ashlee’s Embroidery donated the K on the front and had them ready for the March 23 game, the first one at home.
Coach Black, leasing manager at Brenner Crossing and local NAACP president, was extremely grateful. He had helped with Knox football and mentioned that he would be coaching the baseball team.
“The players liked the idea and told me that if I coached, they would play,” he said. “That is how we got to this place. At the jamboree, we didn’t have the essentials to play. I am so happy that our coaches and players were able to take the field in matching uniforms just 10 days later.”
Black has already told his players he will be back next season. “I want to teach the sport, but also emphasize sportsmanship and be a proper role model,” he said. “We have some work to do. We have a few players who have played travel ball, but also quite a few that have never played. We are working on the fundamentals on the way to building a better team.”
Clark added, “I am happy to give back to Knox, a place that meant so much to me as a student, player and coach. And our running club will have five races at Knox this year.”
Smith said, “When I heard they didn’t even have practice balls, I knew we had to help. I mentioned it around to our officers and attorneys, and we raised enough money to keep supporting the team this season.”
Clark, vice president of SRR, and Smith, a former and future SRR board member, joined with current board members Leonard and Luann Fesperman at the Trophy House and with her sister at Snippers to spearhead outfitting the team. So, that’s what running has to do with Knox baseball. Smith said, “We all had a chance to help these kids when they are trying to do something right, and Coach Black is a good man who has helped the police department often. It was the right thing to do. ”
Black said, “Our players and coaches appreciate the community effort to get the balls and uniforms, especially how quick they got them uniforms for us. I want to help out too when bad things have happened, and good things can come of it. These kids are definitely better off for what this group has done.”