It was a good year, 1962, for the Crozet Red Sox and the other Crozet teams in the Peachtree League: the Cubs, the Indians and, over in Greenwood, the Pirates. “We thought we were living the real American dream,” said Shelton Sprouse, Red Sox first baseman and sometimes-pitcher. “All of us lived within a few miles of each other, we went to Crozet Elementary, and we were outside all summer. ” Life over on Buck’s Mountain Road was idyllic, he remembers, with baseball providing powerful lessons in control and teamwork. “And we hadn’t yet learned how violent life could be,” he said.
Sprouse said they owed much of their wonderful experience to the coaches that summer and many summers, both relatives of team members. Coach Jack Apperson, Johnny Mac Apperson’s father, was Crozet’s fire chief: “I can’t even imagine how many people he saved,” Sprouse said. Another coach was the uncle of team member Larry Kent: Paul Kent, a manager at Acme.
Baseball was everything: “Remember, the NFL was not as powerful yet,” Sprouse said. They admired the way Mickey Mantle played through his pain, the way Jackie Robinson ran the bases, the endearing charm of Willie Mays.
The Pirates actually produced a major league player, Tommy Toms, a great Peachtree League pitcher, who went on to play for the San Francisco Giants. Graduates of the Red Sox, now in their 60s and 70s, went on to pursue various careers, most of them staying in the area. “We have had good fortune,” Sprouse said, and all but one of us is still living.”
Sprouse plans a reunion of the Red Sox at Crozet Park September 19 at 3 p.m., and also invites former members of the Pirates, the Cubs and the Indians of the era. A baseball game will not be part of the reunion, he said, but there will be photos, old stories and some souvenirs. Everyone is welcome, but for planning purposes, please call Sprouse in advance, at 540-470-7673.