The two-time defending Valley League champion Waynesboro Generals are preparing for their 93rd season of baseball in 2015.
The Generals franchise traces its roots to 1923, which for local history buffs is noteworthy as the year that voters in Waynesboro and Basic City approved the consolidation of the two towns into one, leading to the formation of the modern Waynesboro.
So in one sense, the Generals have been around as long as what we now know as Waynesboro has been around.
The Valley Baseball League itself was founded in 1923 as a Class D minor league. A shift in focus in the VBL came in 1961 with sanctioning from the NCAA to allow the teams to fill their rosters with college players. With that move, the league started attracting top baseball talents from around the country, with noteworthy alums including a pair of World Series most valuable players, David Eckstein (a former Harrisonburg Turk who was the 2006 World Series MVP with the St. Louis Cardinals) and Mike Lowell (a former Waynesboro General was who was the 2007 Series MVP with the Boston Red Sox).
The Generals also boast a former #1 overall Major League Baseball draft pick, Denny Walling, who holds the unique distinction of going straight from the Valley League to the Major Leagues, after going first overall in the 1975 draft to the Oakland A’s, playing the summer in Waynesboro and then debuting in the majors with Oakland in September 1975 without having played a minor-league game.
The team is operated by a non-profit, Waynesboro Amateur Athletics, which was founded in 2012 with the mission of supporting and promoting youth sports in Waynesboro. The Generals play their home games at Kate Collins Field on the premises of Kate Collins Middle School, and over the years the team has invested significantly in upgrades to the facilities at Kate Collins, including building a softball field adjacent to the baseball field that has been put to good use in recent years by local girls’ softball leagues.
The Generals, under the guise of Waynesboro Amateur Athletics, embarked on an ambitious initiative in 2013 that put up a goal of having players, coaches and team management contribute 1,000 hours of service to the local community, which the team easily surpassed in that inaugural season, leading to an expansion of the goal for 2014 to 1,500 hours.
The organization also easily met that goal in 2014, which is all the more impressive when you consider that the team ended each of those two seasons as champions of the Valley League, defeating the Strasburg Express in the Jim Lineweaver Cup two games to one to win the title in 2013, and topping the Charles Town Cannons two games to one in 2014, taking the championship at Kate Collins Field in the deciding Game 3 7-6 on a game-winning hit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The 2015 season opens on June 5 when the Generals host their cross-county rival Staunton Braves at Kate Collins Field. The team plays a busy 44-game schedule, with the regular season set to conclude on July 25, and the playoffs on tap to begin on July 27.
Information on the team – including the schedule, roster and details on how to get tickets to games – is online at WaynesboroGenerals.net.
– Blog by Chris Graham