Michael Harris, who pitched for J.P. Knapp and graduated in 1973, (left) jokes with C.J. Hutson, who was the baseball coach at J.P. Knapp from 1966-68, during the Currituck baseball reunion, Saturday.
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Thomas J. Turney/The Daily Advance

Michael Harris, who pitched for J.P. Knapp and graduated in 1973, (left) jokes with C.J. Hutson, who was the baseball coach at J.P. Knapp from 1966-68, during the Currituck baseball reunion, Saturday.

A special night for Currituck baseball

By Jami Frankenberry

The Daily Advance

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BARCO — The televisions in Currituck County High School’s cafeteria were tuned to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Saturday night.
But they barely got a glance.

The night belonged to baseball.

About a hundred current and former players and coaches gathered for the Currituck baseball team’s inaugural alumni dinner. The event drew players and coaches from as far back as the 1960s, and including spouses and significant others, nearly 200 people attended.

“What a great night and a great opportunity to come back and re-visit and see a lot of people again,” said Billy Stallings, who coached the

Knights from 1987 to 2000 and now is Albemarle School’s headmaster.

“Some of them I haven’t seen since I got out of school.”

See more photos from reunion

Current Knights coach Justin Hill spent the past four months organizing the reunion. On Saturday, he watched as his current players rubbed elbows with players who were with the team more than 30 years ago.

A slide show, put together by booster club member Jennifer Vasko, played on a big screen, and old scorebooks and scrapbooks helped jog memories: the Currituck field’s first game in the early 1980s, the 1996 team that started the season 23-0 – one of four consecutive teams to reach the state semifinals.

A raffle — featuring donations from local companies and baseballs autographed by New York Mets third baseman David Wright — helped raise money for the current team.

“I think it’s always good to have a reunion like this for everybody to get back together,” said William Powell, a catcher in the 1970s and now a farmer in Currituck who owns Powell’s Roadside Market. “It’s good to support the kids on the team now.”

Hill welcomed the crowd by telling of his desire to get players and coaches back together. His first two ideas, though, didn’t seem like good ones.

“I thought maybe I’ll invite them to a game,” Hill said. “Currituck baseball in March: 35 degrees, rain, 25 mph winds.”

How about an alumni game? Hill, also a former Knights player, wondered.

“Bad knees, pulled hamstrings, being carried off the field and beingstruck out by a 19-year-old.”

Instead, Hill spent the past four months getting the word out about a reunion dinner. All of Currituck’s coaches since 1965 — when it was Knapp High School — made it Saturday.

“It shows a lot about the baseball program and where we’ve come from and shows us how we want to play,” said Kyle Spruill, a junior catcher this season. “We’ve talked about how it was going to be neat to see a lot of the players and how good this program’s been.”

Hill last year guided the Knights to a 19-8 record and a share of the program’s first conference title since 1995.

Currituck is 7-0 this season.

“We stress pride in the program,” said Hill, now in his fifth season. “This has been a baseball school, it’s been a winning tradition. All these guys who came back proves that it means something special, even 30-40 years after they played here.”

Jami Frankenberry is a correspondent for The Daily Advance