On Saturday, July 22, the Salem Red Sox and Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame will once again sponsor “The Last Inning” senior baseball games at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
The event was initiated in 2020 when the COVID virus wiped out the high school baseball season. An event was held during the summer to give that year’s seniors a chance to play one last time in a high school game, and it proved to be so successful it was decided to make it an annual event.
This Saturday there will be two teams playing a doubleheader of seven innings each. Teams will wear blue or red shirts provided by the Red Sox. James River will be represented by Colin Cook, Nate Park and Taylor Wilson and will play on a team with players from Staunton River, William Byrd, Liberty, Cave Spring and Alleghany on the navy blue team. Jesse Knight will represent Lord Botetourt on the red team and play on a team with players from Patrick Henry, Northside, Jefferson Forest, North Cross, Glenvar, Christiansburg, Salem, Auburn and Smith Mountain Lake Christian Academy.
The first game will start at 4 p.m., followed by the Hall of Fame’s recognition of the Ray Bellamy High School Player of the Year finalists and the announcement of the winner. The Bellamy Award is given annually to the top high school player in the area covered by the Salem-Roanoke Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame covers the counties of Alleghany, Roanoke, Bedford, Botetourt, Craig, Floyd, Franklin and Montgomery and the independent cities located within the boundaries of those counties.
Also, two scholarships will be awarded in memory of two of the hall’s founding fathers, 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.
A second seven-inning game will follow the awards ceremony. There is no admission fee and concessions will be sold.
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.