By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
After 25 years as the head baseball coach of the Saltillo Tigers, Johnny Bolen coached his last game for the Lee County School in the first round of the Class 5A Playoffs earlier this month.
But Bolen will put on his uniform on one more time today, as will close to 80 recently graduated Northeast Mississippi high school baseball players. The annual NEMCABB All-Star Game has its small school and big school contests in Corinth, beginning with the 1A/2A game at 3 p.m., followed by the 3A/6A game at 7 p.m.
“When I decided to retire, I didn’t know how it was going to feel,” said Bolen, who coached 39 years. “This is my last game, and it should help me make the transition.
“I will enjoy seeing some of the players on the field I haven’t seen play this season. Players have told me they have a better time in Corinth than they have at other games in the state.”
Starting times were moved back from previous years to allow some players to graduate, then play. The 1A/2A contest is scheduled to include team members from the recently crowned Class 1A State Champion Smithville Seminoles – Drew Lann, Tyler Hood, Austin Craig, and coach Steve Kerr.
Kerr and Wesley McCullough from New Site will be the East coaches, and Drew Dillard from East Union and Dustin McMillin from Falkner the West coaches.
“These games give some guys opportunities to be seen, and to honor the players in our area,” NEMCABB secretary/treasurer Buddy Hall said. “This is a good caliber of players, and good, quality baseball.”
The 3A/6A game pitches at 7 p.m., with Bolen and his Saltillo assistants Tim Mitchell and Eric Reynolds as East coaches, and Tigers A. J. Rye and Hunter Harlow will be on the roster. Reynolds will become the Saltillo head coach for next season.
Patrick Nutt of Winona and Chad Anthony from North Pontotoc are the West coaches.
“To coach this game with those two guys will be special,” Bolen said. “But this won’t be my last NEMCABB, I’ll still be on the board.”