Abe Naff, a 1999 Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame inductee who won over 600 games at Ferrum College, will be the guest speaker for the Hall of Fame banquet on Sunday, July 23. The Hall of Fame has also announced the six finalists for the high school Player of the Year Ray Bellamy Award as well as the recipients of two special scholarships awarded annually by the Hall of Fame.
Naff served as baseball coach at Ferrum for 23 years, beginning with the 1985 season through 2007. During that time he coached 22 players who went on to play professional baseball while running up a record of 643-236-3, a winning percentage of .731. Abe also served as the college athletic director for 15 years.
A Rocky Mount native and standout catcher at Franklin County High School, Naff went on to play college baseball at Lynchburg College, now the University of Lynchburg. He was selected to the All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference team two years at catcher while helping lead the Hornets to a national ranking.
The 31st annual Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame Banquet will be held at the Salem Civic Center on July 23, beginning with a social hour at 5 p.m. and dinner is at 6 p.m. The Class of ’23 includes Roy Clark, Nick Jones, Randy Lawrence, Reggie Poff and Matt Trent, and Gary Oyler will receive the Wayne LaPierre, Sr. Community Service Award. For information on tickets or tables contact Hall of Fame President John Montgomery at email@example.com or Gary Walthall at 540-427-1977.
The Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame has also announced the finalists for the Ray Bellamy Award, symbolic of the high school Player of the Year in the area covered by the Hall. That area includes the counties of Alleghany, Roanoke, Bedford, Botetourt, Craig, Floyd, Franklin and Montgomery and the independent cities located within the boundaries of those counties.
This year’s finalists are Heath Andrews of James River, Jesse Brown of Staunton River, Preston Crowl of Franklin County, Trey Ludy of Cave Spring, Mason Self of Christiansburg and Breckin Nace of Jefferson Forest. The winner will be announced in conjunction with a baseball doubleheader for the area’s recently graduated high school seniors at Salem Memorial Ballpark on Saturday, July 22. Game one of the doubleheader is scheduled for 4 p.m., followed by the announcement of the Bellamy winner and the scholarship presentations. Game two will then follow.
“The Last Inning” was initiated in 2020 when the COVID pandemic cancelled the high school season. It gave the seniors a chance to get on the field, and it was such a success it was decided to make it an annual event for senior players. The doubleheader is sponsored by the Salem Red Sox and the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame. There is no charge for the players and the event is free to the public.
On that day two scholarships will also be awarded by the Hall of Fame. The scholarships honor two deceased men who were charter members of the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors as well as past inductees, Posey Oyler and Kelvin Bowles.
Oyler was the first president of the Hall of Fame and served for 17 years before passing in January of 2008. An annual scholarship in his name goes to an area player of good character, nominated by his high school coach, who plans to play college baseball. This year’s winner is Damien Boyd of Auburn High School.
Bowles was a charter member of the Hall of Fame Board of Directors who passed away in 2022 after serving for over 30 years. He owned the local Carolina League baseball team for 21 years and served as a professional scout for several big league teams. His scholarship goes to a senior who has shown a great love for the game, and this year’s winner is Preston Crowl of Franklin County High School.
The Hall of Fame building is located on the grounds of the James E. Taliaferro Complex, next to the Salem Red Sox administrative office behind the third base seating area of Salem Memorial Ballpark. It is open to the public on selected nights during the 2023 season and upon request.