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Hayslip left behind a baseball legacy

Posted: September 20, 2017 - 12:22am
Ronnie Hayslip (second from left) was a longtime Columbia County baseball supporter and coach. He died Aug. 31.
Ronnie Hayslip (second from left) was a longtime Columbia County baseball supporter and coach. He died Aug. 31.

Columbia County lost a special man recently with the passing of Ronnie Hayslip last month.

If you've been to a baseball field in Columbia County over the last 30 years chances are you knew of Mr. Hayslip. He was a fixture at Evans games starting in the mid-80's all the way up to Columbia County Recreation Department games and travel ball in recent years.

The Hayslip family moved to Columbia County from Valdosta in 1985. I was an eighth grader at Columbia Junior High at the time and word quickly spread through the county that Evans was getting a new quarterback and great baseball player from Valdosta. That player was Ronnie Haylsip's son, Ben. He quickly established himself as a standout for coach Terry Holder's baseball teams, starting as a freshman on the varsity. He would culminate his prep career by helping give Holder his first state baseball title in 1988. Over those four years Ronnie Hayslip was at every game, becoming close friends with Holder. Even after Ben graduated, Mr. Hayslip was a passionate supporter of Evans baseball. Maybe it is because he missed coaching himself. He had spent five years as a high school coach before choosing to go into the insurance business. Being at those games helped fuel the love he had for sports and specifically baseball.

Ben would go on to play baseball at Georgia Southern before moving to Nashville in 1994. There, he began working on his love for songwriting and has emerged as one of the top song writers in all of country music and is a two-time ACM Songwriter of the year and has written several No. 1 hits for singers like Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, and Luke Bryan. Ben and his wife Melissa have three boys (Camden, Tarver, and Knox) who each caught the family sports bug, spending their summers with their dad playing baseball. And when he was able, Ronnie was there to watch.

The Hayslips also had a daughter (Kim) who was in sixth grade when they moved to Evans. By the time her big brother graduated from Evans she was an Evans student. There she would meet a young ball player named Jason Combs. the two dated throughout high school, and the Hayslips were there as Jason was a part of state championship teams in 1989 and 1990. The family has been there to support Jason's and Kim's son Cade (yep, the high school sweethearts are still married to this day). Cade is a rising baseball star in his own right, and like his Uncle Ben, he started on the varsity as a freshman last year at Grovetown.

At Mr. Hayslip's funeral earlier this month, former Evans coaches Terry Holder and Danny Black were honorary pall bearers and each of Holder's three sons served as pall bearers, and there were countless people in attendance whose lives Ronnie Hayslip and the Hayslip Family touched.

Ronnie Hayslip did not just sit and watch the games, he also coached. Starting way back at the Valdosta Boys Club in the early 80's to just a few years ago coaching his grandson at the Columbia County Recreation Department, Ronnie Haylsip was always there to support our young athletes. Whether it was cheering them on, coaching or helping out financially, Ronnie Hayslip helped hundreds of youngsters in Georgia along the way. He never did it for attention or glory. He simply loved the game and wanted to see the kids in our area be successful.

Well, mission accomplished Mr. Hayslip. Columbia County has had plenty of success over the years and your role in the efforts did not go unnoticed.

My thoughts are with Sue (Ronnie's wife of 48 years) and his kids Ben and Kim, and his seven grandkids (Jace, Cade, Ella, Brody, Camden, Tarver and Knox). Losing someone that means so much to you is hard, but because of the man Ronnie was, you guys have hundreds of people that love you and will be praying for you.

 

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