A local high school baseball coach sets a state record for all-time wins, eclipsing the old mark on the very diamond where the original total was achieved by the former record-Holder.
What a story!
That's what happened last week in Columbia County, but it went unnoticed.
Westside beat Greenbrier in a Wednesday baseball game at the Brierpatch, and that win gave Patriots coach Gerald Barnes 527 career victories, which supposedly tied the mark set by former Evans and Greenbrier coach Terry Holder.
Subsequently, Westside topped Butler Thursday, and there was much fanfare about Barnes becoming the all-time wins leader in Georgia High School Association history.
It's time to re-write history.
I contend that Barnes passed Holder last Wednesday at the Brierpatch.
The argument can be settled by answering one question: Is Holder's all-time win total 527, or 526?
Inspect my case and you make the call.
After Greenbrier captured the 1998 Class AAA state championship with a two-game sweep of Monroe County, a follow-up story in The Augusta Chronicle noted that Holder had reached 498 wins in his career.
With the 500 milestone in Holder's reach, I made a note on the calender in 1999, just so I'd be ready to do a write-up.
Greenbrier opened the '99 season with a loss at Evans, then the Pack beat Westside. That apparently put Holder's total at 499 heading into a weekend doubleheader against Statesboro and Midland Valley on Feb. 27.
The Pack beat Statesboro, and the public address man at the Brierpatch announced Holder had just won his 500th game.
"We told them there was still one more to go," Holder was quoted as saying in the March 3, 1999 issue of The News-Times.
Holder officially earned No. 500 when the Pack topped Midland Valley 11-10.
The math seems simple - wins over Westside, Statesboro and Midland Valley pushed Holder to 500. That's three wins - 497 plus three equals 500.
The Chronicle, however, stuck to the 498 number as Holder's total prior to the '99 season. When Greenbrier capped the campaign with a 29-5-1 record, Chronicle stories listed Holder as finishing his career with a state-record 527 victories.
In a News-Times recap of Holder's career, the final tally was listed as 526. Again, simple math - if Holder began his last season with 497 wins and added 29 more, that seems to be 526.
The National Federation of State High School Associations credits Holder with 527 wins. That organization get its data from the state level, in this case, the Georgia High School Association.
"Basically, the process it this," said John Gillis, editor of records for the NFSHSA. "In order for a performance to go into the record books, schools fill out a form which documents performance, and then send that form to their state organization. The onus is on the state officials to validate it."
So, did Greenbrier and the GHSA get their information from Chronicle press clippings?
Even an editorial in The News-Times mentioned Holder had finished with 527 career wins. Opinions writer Barry Paschal got the number from the Chronicle, and didn't notice that I had maintained the correct total was 526.
Holder himself may believe 527 is accurate. He had to sign the documents validating his record, and Holder's honor is above reproach - but 526 or 527 wins are a lot to remember.
Last week, Chronicle Prep Writer Josh Katzowitz told me that Holder and the NFSHSA each had stated that the correct number was 527.
Back in 1999, Holder was certain of win No. 500, and we talked extensively to make sure the milestone indeed came against Midland Valley.
This could be a classic case of the power of suggestion. With the No. 527 in print, it became reality.
That the possibly erroneous "fact" eventually went down in the official record books could also make this a perfect example of power of the press.
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