HAMPTON (WAVY) — With a rain storm interrupting Peninsula Pilots batting practice, out comes the tarp and field crew, including long time head coach Hank Morgan.
“Absolutely all hands on deck, that’s what we do,” Morgan said after smoothing out the warning track and raking the base paths.
For 16 years, Morgan has worked for the Peninsula Pilots of the Coastal Plain League, a summer league for college players that use wooden bats. For the last 10 years, he’s been the head coach.
“Just thrilled to be in the game in at all,” said Morgan.
Now a baseball lifer, Morgan, who played college ball at VMI and Christopher Newport, has become a teacher of the game, and his players are soaking up his knowledge.
“Just a great guy to play for, he understands the game and he really teaches you through it,” said outfielder Logan Augustine who attends Lincoln College. “he kind of knows what a player needs to do throughout the process.”
“He keeps the clubhouse loose, he knows baseball very well,” said infielder Jonathan Embry who attends Liberty University. “He fell in love with baseball and he’s teaching other people to fall in love baseball as well.
Morgan is a Hampton native and he’s been going to War Memorial Stadium since he was a kid.
“I remember a lot of nights when it wasn’t really well attended,” Morgan said. “When we first started here the place was in disrepair to be kind, It’s very exciting to see the crowd here having fun.”
The Pilots have won two Coastal Plain League championships and they average about 1,700 fans a game, and on weekends it’s not uncommon to get 3,000 fans through the gates.
“Unless you’re talking about a super regional or a regional this is as good as a college atmosphere that your’re going to get to play in. I’m really proud of that.”
Morgan knows his audience, and he wants his players to appreciate them as well.
“I talk to them about shipyards and the military bases and how they influence our community,” Morgan said. “Those guys get up and go to work hard everyday, if they are kind enough to fork a five dollar bill over to buy a ticket, then we ought to be really serious about playing the game the same way they go to work.”
The Pilots host the USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team on Sunday at War Memorial Stadium.