What: Ringgold/Lakeview Alumni Baseball game
When: July 30, 3 p.m.
Where: LFO's Houston Black Field
Why: To raise money for the Ringgold baseball program
Who: Former players at least five years out of high school
Former players can find out more information by contacting Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or Beene at email@example.com. A website has been set up at lforinggoldalumnigame.com, and anyone interested can send donations to:
Gateway Bank and Trust
C/O Ringgold Baseball Tornado Relief
P.O/ Box 129
5102 Alabama Highway
Ringgold, GA 30736
RINGGOLD, Ga. - Of all the baseball players to compete in the intense high school rivalry that is Ringgold-LFO, J.D. Davis easily was one of the most polarizing, even by his own admission.
The former Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe star was, to put it mildly, widely disliked by Ringgold's Tigers. The energetic Davis, who also was the starting quarterback for the football Warriors, was very vocal and often targeted by opposing fans and players.
That reputation will take a huge hit this summer. Davis has organized the Ringgold/Lakeview Alumni Baseball game scheduled for July 30 at LFO to raise money for the Ringgold program that was hit so hard by a tornado in late April.
"I'm from Ringgold and I went by the school the other day, and it broke my heart to see that field," Davis said. "Even though I went to Lakeview, I had some great memories playing at Ringgold. Of course, I hated playing Ringgold, and, honestly, there wasn't a game where I didn't get hit by a pitch.
"It's a huge rivalry, but there's a lot of respect both ways. I play softball with some Lakeview and Ringgold guys, and we wanted to find a way to help out. We think this is going to be a great event, and hopefully it's something that can take place every year with the schools splitting the money to help the programs."
Davis and former Ringgold player Zach Beene already have gotten a few commitments, including a response from former Lakeview High star and current Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. Though Honeycutt likely won't be able to play, he has agreed to donate money to purchase jerseys for both teams and will donate autographed memorabilia to be auctioned off.
"It's amazing to get Rick Honeycutt involved, because so many people know him," Davis said. "We really look forward to getting some of the great players from each program involved."
Davis said Bryan Prince, Brad Weir and Greg Payne are among the former LFO players who have agreed to play, while former stars such as Jesse Cross, Judd Ross, Josh Gandy, Kenny Henderson and Billy Stephens are likely to suit up for the Tigers. Con Kellerhalls will coach the Ringgold squad and Chip Liner will head the Lakeview team.
"I think it's a great idea and I immediately said yes," said Payne, who did add one caveat to his inclusion. "I want it in writing that I don't have to face Jesse Cross. I had enough of that 25 years ago."
One former player who definitely will be there is Brent Tucker, a former LFO star who is the current Ringgold head coach. Tucker, though, isn't sure if he will take the field.
"They're trying to talk me into it," said Tucker, who coached Davis in middle school and was on the LFO staff during Davis' junior and senior seasons. "I saw Greg Payne the last time he tried to play, and he popped his hamstring and hobbled around for a year. I don't want that to happen to me. Maybe I'll pinch hit for him when Jesse pitches.
"Seriously, it's going to be a lot of fun and I'm sure I'll be getting it from both sides. If everybody shows up, there will be a lot of talent on the field. I hope it turns into a yearly thing, and what we've got to do now is go find some disgustingly ugly trophy for the winning team to keep for a year."