CONYERS - Baseball fans in Rockdale County will have the distinct honor of having two American Legion Post 77 teams this summer.
Former Conyers Post 77 coach Jack Murphy is coming out of retirement to lead another Post 77-sponsored team, aptly named Rockdale Post 77.
Murphy said there are several reasons why he is coming out of retirement to coach baseball again.
"There are many talented baseball players in this area. I felt we had a need, as well as the ability, to have another Post 77 team," he said. "I coached the old Post 77 team for many years, and I really didn't have to do much to build the team. They were the best players in the area, and all I had to do is sign them up. This team is a brand new team that will also be sponsored by American Legion Post 77. I guess I want to show people that I can build a competitive team with a new group of players. Also, I just enjoy being on the baseball field and I missed coaching."
Rockdale Post 77 will play and practice on the same field as Conyers Post 77 - Henson-Carr Legion Field - only they will alternate practice times and game times.
"Eddie (Bagwell) still has the No. 1 team in Conyers," Murphy said. "But we were still able to get some very good players from around here."
Topping the list of local players are Joseph Lester and Jo Jo Bonet. Lester played center field for Heritage this past season, while Bonet played two years ago for the Patriots.
Murphy also landed three solid players from Newton High School in Kinley Bryant, Chris Boyd and Reginald Kelly.
Murphy said the rest of his team will be made up of players from Union Grove, Monticello and Piedmont Academy.
Although Murphy said his new team will need time to develop chemistry, he feels it has what it takes to be competitive in the league.
"I think with a little time and hard work this team will be very competitive," he said. "I didn't schedule any area games until the end of June so that we'll have the chance to build the pitching staff and give them the best opportunity to win."
Rockdale's first game was last night on the road against Canton.
The squad's first home game of the season is Saturday, a doubleheader against Snellville. The action begins at 1:30 p.m. at Henson-Carr Legion Field.
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: At a glance
Team: Rockdale Post 77
Coach: Jack Murphy
Key players: Joseph Lester, Jo Jo Bonet
Next game: Saturday at home vs. Snellville, 1:30 p.m.