For any person involved with the game, it’s hard to step away from baseball. Add in a dramatic run to come up justshort of a third state championship, and it’s almost impossible.
That’s what Eddie Bagwell recently did in retiring from his post as the coach of American Legion Post 77 Conyers.
Bagwell finished his final season as the team’s coach on Monday in a 19-12 loss to Douglasville for the state championship, marking Bagwell’s last game with legion baseball.
"I made the decision before the season started; I told the baseball chairman that this was it for me," Bagwell said. "It was in the best interest for me and my family to step away from it right now.
"It was the right decision for me."
Bagwell helped lead the team to back-to-back state titles, including a run which came up just short of a region championship in 2010.
"I like to believe we played the game right, did it right and conducted ourselves appropriately," Bagwell said. "They’re great young men, and I hate walking away from them but I have to."
Post 77 does not know at this time how Bagwell’s retirement will effect how many teams the legion fields in the 2012 season. The topic will be broached with the incoming Post 77 commander, followed by a meeting with baseball chairman Butch Henson to discuss the finances of the post and its revenue to support the baseball program.
"He’ll certainly be missed," Post 77 Rockdale coach Jack Murphy said. "We’ll just have to wait and see what we do with that team."
The legion has previously discussed the possibility of charging players to play in order to keep both teams, and with Bagwell’s departure the discussions will remain open with the possibility of one team in place.
"If we continue to have two teams at the post, it comes to the point where we discussed possibility we may not be able to finance two teams," Murphy said. "If we continue to have two teams, we may have to ask players to foot some of the bill."
Whatever 2012 brings, Bagwell will not be on the bench but will always remember the way his final team finished out his final season. Conyers Post 77 lost its first game in the state’s single-elimination championship tournament before winning four straight to make it back to the finals.
"This team made it very difficult to walk away from," Bagwell said. "They were intense and showed at the end of the day exactly what we were looking for. Their ability to be focused and have intensity over four days with a never-say-die attitude is one of the great things in the tournament.
"The umpire in the final game in the sixth or seventh inning said, ‘Coach you have a first-class program the way you act and the way kids act - the way you run your team.’ I said I appreciate that."