By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Tim Epling grew up rooting for Vida Blue and the Oakland A’s. He pitched collegiately at North Carolina Methodist, and today is the manager of the West Virginia Miners.
What do all those programs have in common?
Their team colors — green and gold.
Epling also used to play for Beckley’s Post 32 American Legion team, which had that same color scheme before going mostly maroon and white. Come June, Post 32 will experience a blast from the past.
Epling and the West Virginia Miners have gotten behind Post 32 and will open the gates of Linda K. Epling Stadium to the team.
“The motivation to support the legion is something that has always been there because it’s something that our family has always been a part of,” Epling said. “The West Virginia Miners support the veterans. We’re very big for what they have done for our country. We wouldn’t have the chance to do the things we do now if it wasn’t for them.”
“(Epling) approached us about partnering together to try to bring the American Legion baseball team back up to the level it had been years ago,” Post 32 commander Ron Jennings said. “American Legion baseball can help juniors and seniors be looked at by college (scouts) and get to the next level. With his program and the scouts that come in, it’s beneficial for the young gentlemen that play on our team to get that look that they may not get otherwise.”
The support of the Miners gives the legion team something it hasn’t had in over 10 years — a stable home. Post 32 games have been played at Woodrow Wilson, Independence, Liberty and Oak Hill high schools since 2002.
The team actually played a handful of games at Epling Stadium in 2010.
Now, Beckley has one of the state’s top baseball venues at its disposal. Head coach Seth Allen and his players will have access to the stadium and the Miners’ training facilities, and at times will even be playing with wood bats.
“It’ll be great,” Jennings said. “The last couple years we have had problems trying to find a home (field).”
Post 32 games will be played not only on days when the Miners are on the road, but also before Miners home games start at 7:05 p.m.
“Some of the games we are going to put wooden bats in the kids’ hands,” Epling said. “We want this to be a good recruiting tool for the local colleges here in the state to take a look at these kids. It gives them a very good venue to be looked at by pro scouts, also.
“We’re going to let them play all the games there at the stadium that they want. The field is theirs, just like it is ours. We think it’s going to be a really good relationship.”
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