Alumni from the William Byrd baseball family gathered at Walthall Park last Saturday to participate in a home run derby and pay tribute to a longtime family member. After the home run derby, the group surprised long time coach Doug Pence by naming the hitting building in his honor.
The home run derby was the first order of business, and it was a good one. Bryce Boothe, Neil Zimmerman and Dylan Hatfield were the top three scorers after one round of a couple dozen hitters, advancing to the second round. Hatfield and Boothe tied after five more swings and went to a three-swing overtime showdown. Hatfield then put two deep into the trees in left to win the home run derby.
At that point former coach Gary Walthall took over the microphone for a heartwarming tribute to Pence, who has been with the program for over 50 years as a coach and volunteer. Zimmerman, who recently stepped down as coach, and former Terrier Nick Baker also took a turn at honoring Pence and it was announced a plaque inscribed with, “In honor of Doug Pence for his coaching and maintenance of our baseball complex for parts of 5 decades,” would be mounted atop the door of the batting building. The batting building was designed by Doug and Bob Yost, a former Terrier from the Class of 1980.
Pence then took the mic to thank family and friends and share a few stories of his many years with the program. It was also announced that Doug has been selected to be inducted into the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame at their winter banquet. The other members of the Class of 2022 will be announced at a later date.
“We really do have a special William Byrd baseball family,” said Walthall. “So many great memories and lasting friendships. Life is good when you spend it with friends and family.”