Friends of Historic Ziglar Field formed in Tryon

Published 3:33 pm Tuesday, July 28, 2009

&uot;We would pack this field,&uot; Counts said recently during an oral history interview with Muriel Ziglar. &uot;Teams would come from all over ‐ Asheville, Spartanburg, Greenville, Columbia, Greensboro, Raleigh, Atlanta, and many other places. We would travel, too ‐ we played Yankee Stadium.&uot;

Muriel Ziglar is a direct decendant of Jessie Ziglar, who first let the young baseball players ‐ including Counts ‐ pull-up cornstalks by hand to make room for the field.

Others remember the team as well.

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&uot;The Ninety Six Chiefs were a strong competitor in the Textile League and the Ninety Six Blue Jays were taking the field against independent Negro League teams across the South ‐ it wasn&39;t unusual for them to play teams like Tryon,&uot; remembers Robert &39;Rosel&39; Williams, who played for the Birmingham Black Barons and today lives in Ninety Six.

Fred Counts elaborates, &uot;We didn&39;t have lights, restrooms or concession stands. What we had was baseball. If you want to learn the story of the Independent Negro League and the Tryon All-Stars and what we meant to the neighborhood, you need to begin here.&uot;

Counts (one of the few surviving Tryon All-Stars) spoke recently to a group of neighborhood children gathered at Historic Ziglar Field. &uot;We played and we played hard. Home plate was just about here and none of those fields were there,&uot; he said, referring the current soccer and practice fields. &uot;We were part of a large community, one that spread all over the south.&uot;

Muriel Ziglar agrees the story of the Tryon All-Stars is part of a much larger story of African American achievement. &uot;Jessie Ziglar would be proud of what has been accomplished here ‐ but, he would want to see more. The Friends of Historic Ziglar Field will take this story to the next level.&uot;

Ziglar was enjoying a visit to Tryon recently to see the field and visit friends with her daughter Monique, who is in college studying forensic accounting. While here she developed the partnership with BnESCO after seeing first hand the success of the Hannon Barbershop Project, the Tryon/Ghana Doll Exchange, and the Mount King Community Garden. With support from BnESCO, Ms. Ziglar established the Friends of Ziglar Field Non-profit NGO to help accomplish privately much of what has been talked about publicly since the dedication of Ziglar Field as a town park in 2006.

&uot;The creation of a Friends organization is a natural progression because if we were to wait for a fully formed plan to drop in our lap ‐ it would never happen. The Friends of Historic Ziglar Field Non-profit NGO and BnESCO Non-Profit NGO make a good partnership with a lot of&bsp; shared vision. I couldn&39;t be more pleased,&uot; said Ziglar.