The Alabama baseball team welcomed back more than 200 former players, coaches and managers on Saturday morning to take part in the Crimson Tide's inaugural Alumni Game, which took place at the newly renovated Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Originally just an idea, the Alumni Game became a reality on Saturday morning with 200-plus attendees on-field, while nearly half of the stands were full with family members and fans of some of the program's most decorated former athletes.
"When this whole project started with the new stadium, one of our goals was to reconnect all the eras and all the former players along with our current players," said Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard. "I think you can see today, with close to 250 alumni here, we're off to a really good start with what we wanted to accomplish."
The day began with batting practice at 10 a.m. Those in attendance who wished to hit took their swings and then spent the remainder of the first two hours reconnecting with former teammates and fellow members of the Crimson Tide baseball family. George Howell (1949-51), a decorated World War II veteran and member of the 1950 team that claimed an SEC Championship and went to the College World Series, took the first swings in the cage to start the day's events.
Following an alumni photo in center field, the former players put together a roster to square off with the 2016 Crimson Tide squad. The alumni roster was made up of Alabama greats including: Brett Booth, Antonio Bostic, Lance Cormier, Jayson Cox, Vin DiFazio, Taylor Dugas, Allen Dye, Robbie Glenn, Doug Hall, John Hardie, G.W. Keller, Alex Kubal, Casey Lambert, Brandon May, Kent Matthes, Andrew Miller, Scott McClanahan, Jay Shaw, Jonathan Smart, Jake Smith, Cal Tinsley, Roberto Vaz, Ross Wilson and Taylor Wolfe.
Also in attendance were Chicago White Sox catcher Alex Avila (2006-08), major leaguer Tommy Hunter (2006-07), UA's all-time winngest coach Jim Wells, and former Golden Spikes winner and current Arizona Diamondbacks hitting coach Dave Magadan (1981-83).
The final inning saw current Crimson Tide coaches take the field. Hitting coach and Alabama all-time leader for career home runs Andy Phillips filled in at shortstop, while J.C. Wilhite singled during his lone at-bat. The game wrapped up with current volunteer assistant coach Nathan Kilcrease giving up a single to former First Team All-American and current pitching coach Dax Norris.
"This is pretty spectacular; I can't believe the turnout," said Avila. "Just seeing all the guys I played with, guys that played before me, guys that played after me - it's all amazing. Driving up here I was pretty amazed, seeing the whole stadium. This day is pretty special."