Yankees Baseball History
In 1979, Chastain Park needed a coach to be able to continue their 17-18 year old program. Coach Beavers was working as an assistant to Jim Morris (now head coach at University of Miami) at DeKalb Junior College, and when asked, decide to coach the team at Chastain Park for the summer, and thus the Chastain Yankees were born.
Through those early years, summer baseball was not the “beast” that it is now, and the early teams were made of mostly of local players who had come through the park at Chastain, along with a few additional players from the metro area. However, those early years were successful ones, as the Chastain team won district titles from the beginning, the first time the park team had done so in competition against other “recruited” teams.
Success bred more success, and before long the Chastain Yankees became one of the top 17-18 year old teams in the country, and the bi-product of the success was that a majority of their players were being recruited and signed by various colleges around the country, as well as being selected in the Major League baseball draft.
But those were not easy years. The original uniforms used in Beavers’ first years were handpicked from a local sporting goods store, and when you say handpicked, here’s the story. The budget Beavers’ first few teams were in the area of $2500, for everything. With no uniforms, and no money, Coach Beavers and his wife, Rene’, traveled a south Atlanta hardware and sporting goods store, and inside found several 50 gallon drums filled with various and sundry uniforms. They literally turned the drums over, and spent the entire afternoon mixing and matching tops and bottoms until they found 15 or 16 of the same or close. Add some hats with the “one size fits all” tabs in the back, and there you have the first uniforms of the future East Cobb Yankees team, whose annual budget now approaches six figures…how times have changed.
There was also the time we left Atlanta for a Florida tournament, without enough money to pay for rooms. But, a players father assured Beavers that, if he drove slowly, he’d raise enough money that morning and have it in the bank by the time he arrived to cover the room tab. And since there was no money for vans or buses like the Yankees now use, players drove their own cars in a 6 or 8 car caravan.
During those years, Beavers and his coaches drug the field before each game by pulling the drag by hand, and often had to ask people sitting on the wall in centerfield to quit throwing beer cans and bottles at the players. We often threw batting practice without benefit of a screen, as several coaches can attest when we drug them off the field after being battered by line drives. They weren’t easy times, but in retrospect, they were some of the best. The players played because they loved the game, wanted a place to play, and weren’t concerned with uniforms and facilities. Yes…times have changed.
The Yankees name came about from Beavers’ vision for his team. While growing up, the only games on television were the Yankee games on Saturday afternoon, because of CBS ownership of the Yankees at that time. As now, they were the team to beat, year in and year out. Beavers felt that if you wanted to associate a name with success on the baseball field, then the only choice was the Yankees. Big shoes to fill, but a worthy goal.
During those years, many Yankees were drafted and most went on to play college ball. It was also during those years that the Yankees first major leaguer surfaced. Frank Lankford, a pitcher from Westminster, caught fire during the summer, signed with Virginia in late July, went from Virginia to pro ball, eventually playing several years in the big leagues. Frank is now a financial consultant with SunTrust in Atlanta.
In 1990, Beavers met with Gerry Baldwin and other representatives of the East Cobb program, and decided to move the Yankees from Chastain to East Cobb, where they have developed and become one of the premier amateur baseball teams in America, winning 4 national titles and being chosen by various scouting services as the # 1 summer team in America for 3 of the past 5 years.
Not only have the Yankees had more players sign Division I scholarships than almost any team in America over their history, over 150 players have been selected in the Major League draft, including 8 first round picks, and over 2 dozen 2nd and 3rd round choices. There are currently 28 ex-Yankees playing professional baseball, and 28 ex-Yankees are now on the current rosters of Georgia Tech, Georgia, Georgia Southern. The Yankees also have 2 players currently rated by Baseball America as the # 1 prospects in their organization, Jeremy Hermida of the Marlins, and Chris Nelson of the Rockies. The Yankees have had over a dozen players offered or sign for $700,000 or more bonus money by Major League teams, including 2 of the highest bonuses ever given to lower round players, namely Jimmy Barthmaier with the Astros and Dexter Fowler with the Rockies.