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Pioneers retiring Brown's jersey

Before people go Back to the Strip this Saturday, they can make it an entire weekend of partying and celebrating with the Pioneer baseball team. Warren County has a big weekend in store, with a golf tournament, jersey retirement and an alumni game all on the slate.

Coach Phillip King has made it a personal mission to bring back Pioneer pride in the baseball program since taking over last year. He and his team has made improvements at Patrick Ramsey Field and many past Pioneers have been on hand to throw out first pitches.

A living legend will be the man on the mound Friday before the Pioneers take on Coffee County, which is coached by Warren County alumni David Martin. The orchestrator of the 1992 championship team, coach Ronnie Brown, will throw out the first pitch and have his No. 22 jersey retired.

“Coach Brown was the driving force in building the Warren County baseball team into a dynasty in the 80s and 90s,” the Pioneers posted on their social media page. “We would love for everyone that played for coach Brown to come out and show their support.”

Brown’s No. 22 jersey is just the third number to be retired by the Pioneer baseball program. Warren County has also retired Lester Strode’s No. 35 and Jamie ‘Cat’ Walker’s No. 17.

If not for a chance tackle while running for the City Rebels back in his football days, it may be No. 23 that would be making its final appearance Patrick Ramsey Field Friday.

“I was running against Mt. Juliet and they tore my jersey off of me,” recalled Brown, who graduated in 1966 before going to MTSU to play football. “I was wearing No. 23, but I had to wear No. 22 the next week. I’ve been No. 22 ever since.”

Brown was a star for the Rebels in football and baseball, but football was his first love. He led the state in interceptions in 1965 and kept coaching the game after his playing days were over. It was only while helping with football in Smyrna that he returned to the diamond.

“I was helping with football and then started helping with the baseball team. I went through a year and came back from summer when I got a call from the principal,” said Brown. “He called me into his office and told me, ‘Coach Thomas took a job. You’re now the head baseball coach.’ I started going to every clinic and started networking.”

Brown returned to Warren County in 1984 and coached until 1995. The Pioneers began to churn out wins and great prospects, including ‘Cat’ Walker, current coach Phillip King, his brother Greg King (who threw out a pitch this season), George Oleksik and Jerry ‘Gooby’ Martin. The high point, at least to many Pioneer fans, came in 1992 when Warren County defeated Germantown twice in the state tournament.

Friday’s game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. with Brown’s first pitch.

Before the game, those hoping to held out the Pioneer baseball program and who subscribe to the thought that a ‘bad day of golf is better than a good day working,’ can take their hacks at McMinnville Country Club. Brown, along with his former assistants Jimmy Walker, Bobby Cox and Franklin Fisher, will be one of the featured foursomes in the event.

Call the McMinnville Country Club for availability to play Friday.

If Pioneer alumni are in town and would rather swing with bats than clubs, they can show up at Patrick Ramsey Field Saturday. The annual baseball alumni game is slated to begin at noon. All Pioneer alumni are welcome to attend and play.

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