29th Annual Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame Induction

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Salem, VA(WFXR)_Another group of outstanding baseball players and contributors were inducted into the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame at the 29th annual hot stove banquet, Thursday at the Salem Civic Center. The Class of ’20 includes Pat Daly, David Groseclose, Matt McGuire and Roger White. In addition, Bill Rutledge has been selected to receive the Wayne LaPierre, Sr. award for contributions to the game.

Daly is one of the best players ever to play at Ferrum College. In 1998 he led all NCAA Division III teams in the nation in home runs, runs batted in, runs scored and slugging percentage and was second overall in batting average while only striking out 10 times all season. That year he was named first team All-American and Virginia Small College Player of the Year. He’s a member of the USA South Conference Hall of Fame and the Ferrum College Hall of Fame and one of only five Ferrum players to have his number retired. He played one year of professional baseball with the Chillicothe Points in the Frontier League.

Groseclose is a 1991 graduate of Alleghany High and the only Mountaineer ever to record 100 career hits. He went on to play four years at VMI and was first team All-Southern Conference at shortstop his senior year. He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies and played two years of minor league ball in their system.

McGuire is a William Byrd High and William & Mary graduate who is the current coach of the Roanoke College baseball team. Matt still holds several records for the storied baseball program at Byrd, including most hits in a career, and played on the 1997 state championship team. At William & Mary Matt was the captain of the team that won the program’s first CAA championship and advanced to NCAA regional play. He coached at Byrd after graduation then was an assistant at VMI, Tennessee Wesleyan, Ferrum and Randolph-Macon. McGuire has coached at Roanoke College for the past seven years, including a trip to the NCAA Division III Final Four in 2017 after winning the ODAC and South Region championships.

White has been coaching or scouting baseball in the area for 36 years. He’s been a major league scout for several teams and is currently a scout for the San Diego Padres. He played for Lynchburg College on a nationally ranked team before a long coaching career that included stints at Cave Spring, James River and Roanoke College, where he was the pitching coach on the 2003 team that brought baseball back to RC for the first time in over 60 years. Presently he’s the founder and owner of the business “Ultimate Baseball Clinics & Training Camp” along with running a summer camp.

Rutledge is a big supporter of baseball in the area, having played for Andrew Lewis High School and on the Post 202 American Legion team. His family business, Rutledge Paint and Body Service, is celebrating its 70th year in business. He’s attended every one of the past 28 Hall of Fame banquets.

The Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame was founded in 1991 and honors players and contributors from the counties of Alleghany, Roanoke, Bedford, Botetourt, Craig, Floyd, Franklin and Montgomery and the independent cities located within the boundaries of those counties. The Hall of Fame building is located on the grounds of the James E. Taliaferro Complex, next to the Salem Red Sox administrative office behind the third base seating area of Salem Memorial Ballpark. It is open to the public prior to Red Sox games and upon request.

The guest speaker for the induction ceremony was Murray Cook. Cook is building the Field of Dreams, and they’re sure to come. In fact, baseball fans have been coming to fields built by Murray for over 40 years. Salem native Murray Cook is the epitome of the American success story. He went from shining shoes and raking dirt as a kid to becoming one of the top professionals around the world in the design, construction and management of sports fields and ballparks. Salem Municipal Field, now Billy Sample Field at Kiwanis Park, was the second home to Cook as a child. He started as a “gofer” and clubhouse boy for the Salem Pirates in early ‘70s and worked his way up to assistant grounds’ keeper in 1974, when the Salem team had future stars like Miguel Dilone, Mitchell Page and the late Alfredo Edmead, who was destined to become a star before a tragic accident took his life on the playing field in Salem.

Cook was promoted to head groundskeeper in 1975 at the age of 14 and quickly started making a name for himself. The field in Salem was always manicured to perfection and his hard work didn’t go unnoticed. By 1988 he was hired as the stadium manager for West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium in Florida, a 10 field spring training facility that was home to the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos. He plied his trade there for eight years before moving to Roger Dean Stadium, a 14 field complex for the Expos and St. Louis Cardinals. In 1996 Cook was hired by Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida to design and manage their multi-field Sports Complex. By this time, Cook was receiving national and world wide attention for his expertise. He was chosen to supervise the fields for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 as the Technical Venue Supervisor, then for the Athens Olympics in 2004 as Deputy Competition Manager and the 2008 Beijing Olympics as Baseball Venue Operations Manager.

In the past 20 years Murray has been all over the world creating fields for big league and international baseball events, including Major League Baseball season openers in Sydney, Tokyo and San Juan, as well as creating a new stadium for the Braves and Marlins game at Fort Bragg in 2016. He’s been the Official Field Consultant for the MLB Office of the Commissioner for 25 years. In addition to designing and constructing baseball fields he was chosen as the Official Turf Consultant for the National Mall in Washington, DC from 2012-14. A current project, constructing the “Field of Dreams” in Dyersville, Iowa, began in 2019.

Murray is now Division President of Brightview Sportsturf. With over 40 years of experience and venue design and management services in over 60 different countries Cook is recognized as the top consultant in his field. He has received numerous awards, including Sportsturf Man of the Year, Sportsturf. Professional Field of the Year for his work in West Palm Beach in 1993 and in 2016 his field at Fort Bragg was deemed “Ballpark of the Year” by USA TODAY. The Past President of the National Sports Turf Managers Association, Murray has been a key note speaker at numerous sports field clinics and National Conferences around the world and has written several guides on sports field design, maintenance and construction. This year, the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame is lucky to have Cook as its’ speaker for its 29th annual Hot Stove Banquet and Induction ceremony. A 2006 inductee into the local Hall of Fame, Cook has never forgotten his roots and is still a familiar face around the ballfields he served growing up.

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