I think I need to take a Columbia County sports history class.
The place to start would be baseball as I kept finding out things as I pursued a few stories on this week’s page.
With Harlem High School graduates Derek Beasley (2010) and Josh Wirsu (2011) taken in the Major League first-year player draft last week, it of course begged the question, who else from Harlem had ever been drafted?
When Harlem baseball coach Jimmie Lewis texted me two names, the second being Mike Ramsey, I was taken aback by the first one – Mike Leverett.
Since I started working here in February of 2012, I’ve just known him as Harlem’s school security officer and the softball coach. I had no clue about his baseball pedigree, which led him to be taken out of high school in the 18th round of the 1981 draft by the Atlanta Braves. Leverett did it all for the Bulldogs, playing third base, shortstop and pitcher and Lewis called him one of the best he’s ever coached.
In an article about Leverett by Billy Byler in 2006, Leverett talked about advice he got when he started out at third base in the Braves’ system.
“Hank Aaron told me he thought I had a better chance of making it at first base,” Leverett said. “It was a short stay, but I learned a lot.”
The closest I’ve ever been to Hank Aaron was being in the crowd when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. It was just a fluke as my mother drove me to Cooperstown, N.Y, to see former Baltimore Oriole Frank Robinson get inducted. Getting to see one of the greatest players in the history of the game was just a bonus that day.
But back to Columbia County. Beasley’s father Steve was a teammate of Leverett’s in 1981. It was Beasley’s three-run homer in Game 2 of the 1981 Class AA title series that propelled the Bulldogs to a 4-3 win over Cedar Grove as they clinched the state title. Leverett was the winning pitcher in Game 2 while current Harlem principal Dietmar Perez got the complete-game victory in Game 1.
Yep, you guessed it, didn’t know that about Perez either.