Armstrong High School head coach Lawrence Day has always had a passion for baseball. He wanted to bring that to the Richmond community.
This past August, cure his passion was met with victory as his AAU Richmond Blue Sox baseball team won the National Championship in the 12 and under category at the Metropolitan Black Little League World Series.
“I thought we were good, but I really didn’t know until after that first game when we played the Alabama team … [that] we had a shot to win this,” Day said.
The championships were held at RF&P Park in Glen Allen. In attendance were 88 teams from 14 states and abroad. The competition was fierce, but Day said his team was ready after not making it past the first round in 2010 and the quarter finals in 2012.
“I went there three years ago and they killed us, we had no chance. So, I knew what we had to do to get better to contend. These guys could play,” Day said.
To contend with these elite teams, Day said he called on the help of three men he knew would be able to get his team into shape. Assistant coaches Martin Owens, Jermaine Riddick, and Michael Hines all helped to contribute to the Blue Sox victory.
“I knew these guys, and to win at that kind of level you need these kinds of guys,” Day said.
The Blue Sox had to play five games before making it to the championship. They played and defeated teams from Birmingham, Ala., Norfolk, Chester and the Dominican Republic in the semi-finals.
Coach Day’s Blue Sox won against the Bahamas 5-3 in the championship, something that both he and the assistant coaches said meant a lot to them and the children of the team.
“The way we won in such a dramatic fashion, I still didn’t believe it … then I watched Coach Day I saw him in tears and I glanced at the young men and I’ve seen friendships being formed and it was things that would go with them for the rest of their lives that meant more to me than the actual trophy,” Assistant coach Michael Hines said.
With this win, Coach Day said it showed the children that African Americans can still be successful in the sport of baseball.
“They always see black faces in football and basketball. They see black faces in baseball, but usually they’re Spanish,” Day said. “We still have guys that can play America’s past time.”
The win also symbolized, as coach Hines said, the unification in the Richmond community.
“The look on their faces when that last run came across that plate. It wasn’t a matter of the fact that I played for the Godwin Eagles, or I played for the Mosby Spartans or I played for an RVA team … the look that they had on their faces was that we, the Blue Sox, had come together, worked hard, became friends and teammates and at the end became champions together,” Hines said.
While the Blue Sox championship win did affect the children and the Richmond community, Coach Day also wanted to emphasize how important it was for the black community because of what it meant for baseball and blacks.
“Before the Civil Rights Movement began, Jackie Robinson really started it because being a baseball player was almost as impossible as being the president at the time,” Day said. “It’s very important that our children and our community understand baseball. It’s not just a sport to me; it’s a Civil Rights Movement.”