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1967 All Star youth team members reunite for a team photo 50 years later

Here are the original 1967 Long Beach Dixie Youth League Azalea All Star Team is set up beside a team picture taken Saturday, June 24, 2017, 50 years after the original picture was taken. On the left are back row, from left: Eddie Holmes, Mark Taylor, Marice Stevison, John Killebrew, Kevin Webb, David Pierson and James Cockrell; front row, from left: John Cockrell, Elton Stevison, Billy Brown, Chris Taylor and Coach Duane Blackwell. Coach Billy Brown is deceased and members Mikey Brown, Buddy Lankston and Mike Hutchinson were unable to attend Saturday. On the right are back row, from left: Eddie Holmes, Mark Taylor, Marice Stevison, John Killebrew, Kevin Webb, David Pierson and James Cockrell; front row, from left: John Cockrell, Elton Stevison, Billy Brown, Chris Taylor and Coach Duane Blackwell. Coach Billy Brown is deceased and members Mikey Brown, Buddy Lankston and Mike Hutchinson were unable to attend Saturday.
Here are the original 1967 Long Beach Dixie Youth League Azalea All Star Team is set up beside a team picture taken Saturday, June 24, 2017, 50 years after the original picture was taken. On the left are back row, from left: Eddie Holmes, Mark Taylor, Marice Stevison, John Killebrew, Kevin Webb, David Pierson and James Cockrell; front row, from left: John Cockrell, Elton Stevison, Billy Brown, Chris Taylor and Coach Duane Blackwell. Coach Billy Brown is deceased and members Mikey Brown, Buddy Lankston and Mike Hutchinson were unable to attend Saturday. On the right are back row, from left: Eddie Holmes, Mark Taylor, Marice Stevison, John Killebrew, Kevin Webb, David Pierson and James Cockrell; front row, from left: John Cockrell, Elton Stevison, Billy Brown, Chris Taylor and Coach Duane Blackwell. Coach Billy Brown is deceased and members Mikey Brown, Buddy Lankston and Mike Hutchinson were unable to attend Saturday.

Members of the 1967 Long Beach Dixie Youth Little League all star baseball team joined their former coach on Saturday at Memorial Hospital of Gulfport to recreate a team photo that was taken 50 years ago.

Ten of the 13 players on the 1967 All Star team were on hand to join Coach Duane Blackwell, who is recovering from surgery at Memorial Hospital.

“This was a very good group of boys,” said Blackwell, now 90 years of age. “It makes my heart feel big. They were All Stars, but they weren’t over and above anybody else. They just played together. They made you happy. I loved to go out in the afternoons to practice.”

Duane Blackwell, who retired from the Sun Herald in 1988, called out some of the players by name.

“Elton (Stevison) was our homerun hitter,” said Blackwell, while pointing at Stevison.

The 10 players from the 1967 All Star team photo on hand Saturday were Eddie Holmes, Mark Taylor, Marice Stevison, John Killebrew, Kevin Webb, David Pierson, John Cockrell, Elton Stevison, Billy Brown and Chris Taylor. Mike Brown was not in town on Saturday. Holmes said they were unable to reach Buddy Lankston and Mike Hutchison.

The idea of coming together for the 50-years-later anniversary photo evolved as Holmes was going through photo albums that belonged to his parents, who are now deceased.

“I ran across one of the pictures and realized that we were coming up on 50 years,” Holmes said. “It was a great experience for us then, and I thought there might be some interest in getting together as a team.”

The 10 players recalled particular games as they looked through scorebooks. Some recalled specific players on opposing teams as well as specific events and game outcomes.

Coach Blackwell’s wife, Connie, recalled filling in as coach when her husband was sidelined with a case of the mumps.

“I told him that I’ve been out there with you all the time,” Connie said. “I can do it. He said OK, and I did. I knew who to put in. And we won — they won.”

“It’s great first of all to see everybody,” said Billy Brown, whose father was included in the original team photo as co-coach, who passed away in 1983. “We all came out really because of Mr. Blackwell. He’s getting up in age. It’s really great seeing all the guys. Everybody has a lot less hair and a little gray, and everybody’s wearing glasses. We’re all getting older.

“The majority of us live here locally,” Brown said. “I think Eddie called us together to see how all of us are doing.”

Holmes recalled their All Star team was selected from Long Beach’s Dixie Youth Azalea League. They defeated the other Long Beach All Star team, the Magnolia League All Stars to advance to All Star championships in Pascagoula. Their season ended with two losses in Pascagoula, a 3-0 loss to the host team on July 24, 1967, and a 5-2 loss to Picayune the following day.

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