Former Harlem standout Mike Ramsey got what Bulldogs coach Jimmie Lewis said was some long overdue recognition Tuesday.
Ramsey graduated from Harlem in 1978 before embarking on a 10-year professional career that included a stint in the Major Leagues. He was invited back last week to throw the first pitch at the Bulldogs' home opener against Jefferson County.
"He's Harlem's claim to fame," Lewis said.
Ramsey tossed his pitch from the mound and accepted a plaque from the school honoring his accomplishments. He stuck around to watch the Bulldogs beat Jefferson County 10-0 in five innings.
Ramsey played for the Bulldogs 1978 state championship team as a senior. Lewis was an assistant coach that year.
Back then, the high school was at the site of the current middle school and the baseball field had no outfield fence. Ramsey and his teammates could hit the ball and keep running.
"The only thing faster than his fastball was his feet," Lewis said, repeating what was read about Ramsey before the game. "He could fly."
Ramsey still lives in the area. He works for Bridgestone and spends much of his time working one-on-one with young baseball players.
Ramsey pitched his first three professional seasons before moving to the outfield. He played both positions at Harlem, was a switch hitter and left-handed thrower. He said he works with his baseball pupils on all aspects of the game.
Ramsey's son, Jalen, is a seventh-grader at Harlem Middle School.
Jalen plays baseball, but Ramsey said he hasn't pushed his son into the sport.
Ramsey said he tried to leave the sport behind.
"I tried to get out of baseball, but it wouldn't let me," Ramsey said."
Ramsey and the rest of Harlem's opening day-crowd were treated to a quick Bulldogs win.
Derek Clayton started for Harlem and had no trouble before giving way to Forrest Christian. Harlem senior Patrick Gamblin launched the park's first home run of the season.
Lewis said he and Jefferson County coach Mark Ethridge have long scheduled each other. The two teams competed against one another for region titles in the 1990s. On Tuesday, it was clear the Bulldogs had the upper hand.
Their only trouble came in judging the speed of Jefferson County's pitches, which were delivered slow enough to frustrate Bulldogs batters.
"They got to stay back when a guy's throwing that speed to time it," Lewis said. "You aren't going to see 80-90 miles (per) hour every time."
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