Jackson County Little League was honored by a visit from some special guests during practices June 2.
Former Smoky Mountain star Cal Raleigh, who is now a catcher in the Seattle Mariners organization, was on hand along with his father, Todd Raleigh, former baseball coach at Western Carolina and Tennessee. They were joined by Cal’s cousin, Brody Raleigh, and Cal’s younger brother, T Raleigh.
“Coach Raleigh has always been very supportive of Jackson County Little League,” said Little League President Curtis Lambert. “While he was skipper of the WCU baseball program, he would hold free coaches’ clinics at WCU in conjunction with former Jackson County Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Carpenter. Coach Raleigh has in some years brought a bus with a load of WCU players to break out at Fairview Park and conduct position specific mini-clinics with youth players. Those nights were always a special treat for the young Little League players.”
Cal Raleigh was able to attend due to the COVID-19 interruption of the Major League Baseball season. As a youngster he played in the Jackson County Little League program. He went on to earn All-American honors at Florida State before being drafted by the Mariners.
Brody Raleigh is the son of Matt Raleigh, who played baseball at WCU. Brody was a member of the Maine-Endwell, New York team that won the 2016 Little League World Series.
The Raleighs spoke with JCLL participants on various topics including classwork/grades, teamwork, self motivation and work ethic. Brody Raleigh pointed out that his team was the first team in Little League World Series history to win the title and also receive the Sportsmanship Award.
As the Raleighs were speaking to the players, T Raleigh set up screens and prepared for Coach Raleigh to pitch to Cal for a round of batting practice.
“It is certainly not everyday that a small town Little League gets a visit from such a decorated baseball family and has a MLB player take batting practices at their facilities,” Lambert said. “The Board and member families of Jackson County Little League extend a huge thank you and appreciation for the time that Todd, Cal, Brody and T Raleigh spent at the park with us.”