Linden recognizes Thomas

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Now, therefore let it be resolved with great pleasure and honor that the Mayor and City Council of Linden on this 19th day of June, 2007, dedicate the Little League Field at Scott Park in honor of Mr. Thomas by naming it John Payne Thomas Field.&8221;

Yesterday afternoon&8217;s showers didn&8217;t dampen the attendance of the District 10 Cal Ripken all-star games scheduled to take place at Scott Park in Linden. Nor did it scare off one of the area&8217;s biggest supporters of youth baseball, John Payne Thomas.

Thomas was slated to kick off the day&8217;s ball playing by throwing the first pitch in the match up between a Demopolis and Linden group of all stars. Unbeknownst to him, Thomas was also about to be honored by the City of Linden for his service to youth baseball by having the park, on which the groups were playing, named after him.

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As Thomas walked of the field, ball in hand, the bomb dropped. Linden all-star coach and president of the Linden Cal Ripken League, Randy Hale, announced the real reason for getting Thomas on the mound and Linden Mayor Pro Tem Alvin &8220;Butch&8221; King read the proclamation officially renaming the field as volunteers lowered the banner covering the redone scoreboard.

The surprise orchestrated for Thomas was carefully planned, and it was no coincidence that the announcement came prior to a match up between Linden and Demopolis. Thomas&8217; work with area baseball has a long reach in both Linden and Demopolis leagues.

Thomas, 67, has been involved with the area long enough to see generations of players come and go under his tutelage. He has coached teams for 37 years and is a staple, who is at the park as long as the lights are on.

Thomas&8217; influence in those involved in sports in the area stretches not only from the baseball park but also to the halls of Marengo academy. He has served of the board of the school for 20 years and has a good attendance record to boot.

His presence not only has had an influence on the lives of coaches at the park yesterday, but it has also touched the lives of the children and players under the current coaches. Son of coach Mark Hasty, Payne Hasty, was named after Thomas to commemorate the influence he had on the life of Payne&8217;s father.

Brandon Glover is the sports editor of The Times. He can be reached at