What has been a turbulent spring for Greenbrier High School athletics got worse Monday.
Just nine days after taking the Wolfpack to their second consecutive state baseball championship series, Chris Wilkins was removed as head baseball coach.
Greenbrier High Principal Chris Segraves said that financial mismanagement and failure to follow procedures were factors in Wilkins’ dismissal.
While Segraves answered some questions, it is still hard to fathom what the other factors might have been. If it had to do with treatment of students or athletes, I find it hard to believe they would have let him keep his job as a health and physical education and social studies teacher, which they have.
Wilkins hasn’t reached out to the media as of this writing, which I certainly understand, so it’s hard to say if he will want to remain at the school. I would imagine that’s a decision he’s really going to have to think about.
We know it certainly wasn’t about wins and losses. Since taking over in 2009, the Wolfpack won at least 20 games each year, went to two state title series and had a five-year record of 120-40 under Wilkins.
The same day Wilkins lost his coaching position, Greenbrier lost one of its more ardent supporters in Ed Amerson – or just Mr. Ed.
I started working here at The News-Times a year and a half ago, and it didn’t take long for Mr. Ed to start taking me to task for the Wolfpack losing or performing below par at games I covered. Soon he began saying, “Here comes old Joe Bifflestick” every time I would cover a Greenbrier High School game. As Mr. Ed explained to me once, Joe Bifflestick was a Li’l Abner character with a black cloud over his head, bringing doom and gloom wherever he went. I enjoyed that interaction with Mr. Ed.
His second wife, Donnie, was nice enough to take time out of her busy day Wednesday to talk about Mr. Ed., who would have been 78 next month.
“He was born on the fourth of July,” Amerson said. “I said Ed, you got it right cause you’re a firecracker.”
The couple were married in 2005 and she used to attend games with him, but hadn’t for a while.
“I used to a long time ago, but he enjoyed it better by himself cause he could holler,” she said. ‘‘The mothers catered to him at every whim. They had a Zero Coke for him, they’d get him whatever he needed. He was just like a king. They loved him because he loved their children so much.”
Coaches, administrators and players thought the world of Amerson.
“One thing’s for sure, he won’t miss another Greenbrier game, he’ll be looking down on us,” said Segraves. “The sad thing is there are going to be some freshmen coming up who will never have the opportunity of knowing who Mr. Ed was. They missed out on meeting and getting to know a great man.”
Said former Greenbrier softball player Kristan Martin: “One of things we remember the most about him is his funny humor when he argued with the umpires. He always kept us laughing in the dugout.”
Garrett Black, the Lady Wolfpack’s softball coach since the school opened in 1996, said he thought Amerson and his longtime assistant coach Mark Mosely, who died in 2010, would meet.
“He’s going to be really missed,“ said Black of Amerson. “There will be two fans on a cloud over our softball field from now on.”