The month of February is the cold start to America’s favorite pastime, baseball. After the pandemic cut the 2020 season short, the Cavaliers are looking forward to taking the field for their first game on February 16. Each season brings high hopes, and a reminder of Mount de Sales Academy’s legacy of powerhouse baseball teams.
In 1965, Macon Telegraph writer Harley Bowers referred to Macon as the undisputed “baseball capitol of Georgia.” Lanier High School had just won the Region 1-AAA championship, and Mount de Sales was poised to win the Region 5-C championship. Bowers noted, “Having two teams in the state meets would be regarded in most cities as something really worth crowing about. In fact, it’s a feat that Maconites look on with pride. Really, though, it is old hat around here.” According to Bowers, Macon had more baseball championships than any other city in Georgia, and “good players sprout up in Bibb County like fern on a creek bank.” He credited excellent coaching and specifically mentioned Coach Donnie Veal from Mount de Sales, as well as the area’s many capable players, who attracted the attention of professional scouts.
The Cavaliers were a young team in 1965 with only one starting senior, Joe Thornton, and even Coach Veal was in his first year as a head baseball coach. After winning the region championship, the team was beaten by Yatesville and took third place in state. The Cavaliers success was even more remarkable considering the school only began admitting boys in 1963 and started a competitive athletic program at the same time.
The Cavaliers would go on to win the Class C state championship the following year after “Bobby Huellemeier allowed only three hits and struck out 18 batters in a 2-1 victory over Meriwether High” (Macon Telegraph). According to the article, the Cavaliers picked up their first run in the fourth inning when Bill Conner walked, stole second base, went to third on a passed ball, and scored on Duck Hatcher’s sacrifice fly. Mount de Sales pushed across the winning run in the fifth inning as Mike Ryan reached first base on an error, stole second base, and scored on a double by Chester Pierce, who would later return to MDS as a teacher, coach, and administrator. Mount de Sales would go on to win seven more state baseball championships between 1968 and 1980.
Like this first championship team, the 2021 Cavalier baseball team is also made up of young talent, with only two seniors. Coach Bubba Pool (’92), who was coached by Chester Pierce, is encouraged by how receptive each player is to learning. “Each young man is competitive and wants to win a starting position,” said Coach Pool. “But along with a healthy sense of competition, they encourage each other, and that helps to make a great team.”
Each day the Cavaliers take the field, they are reminded of Mount de Sales’s championship legacy, and they play to win another. However, as Coach Pool recognizes, playing is about more than winning that one championship game. “We focus every day on being a better baseball player and a better person.” That championship attitude on and off the field is what being a Cavalier is about!
Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, and serves students in Bibb, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach and other surrounding counties. MDS is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.