Peanuts, cracker jacks and Larrry Simcox. His name is synonymous with East Tennessee baseball and he's still hitting a home run here locally.
Wisdom comes with age. Baseball wisdom comes after decades of playing, coaching and recruiting.
"My childhood memories were playing baseball, shooting a basketball, throwing a football. If there was a ball, I was throwing it, or shooting it or catching it, swinging a bat," said Simcox.
It was good practice for a young man who had quite a future ahead of him. Larry played ball in high school in Chattanooga and that took him to a local community college until he was recruited by Ole Miss.
"I was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds after my junior year, but elected to go back to school for my senior year and then I signed after my senior year with the Houston Astros," he said.
All was going well until a bad injury.
"In 83', I was playing in the Southern League against the old KJ's and I got taken out on a double play and tore my knee up, had reconstructive knee surgery," said Simcox.
He got back in the game, but was released.
"It's time to move on and figure out what you are going to do for the rest of your life."
He took a sales job, but that didn't last long.
"My college baseball coach who I played for-- he called me and said, 'I'm going to have an opening on my coaching staff, would you be interested in getting into baseball?'" he recalled.
He said yes and spent the next six years coaching Ole Miss and then it was time for a change. Coach Rod Delmonico at UT was looking for an assistant in 1991. Larry took the job! And after many down years, the team scored!
"We had a pretty special player on that team. Todd Helton came along and played for us 93', 94', 95' and we had other great players around him," he said. "It was an exciting time for baseball at Tennessee. The crowds were like they had never been before. The attention was like it had never been before. It was a good time!"
Simcox coached UT for 17 years and then came another change.
"After they made the coaching change I had a decision to make, whether I wanted to stay in coaching or whether I wanted to do something different with my life," he said.
Tuns out different was much of the same! Larry's still in the game! He now coaches East Tennessee's young players on everything from hitting to fielding the ball.
"It's an exciting time here at Diamond Baseball Simcox Academy. We have about 22 teams that are playing baseball through our facility and we have some great instructors here and it's really going good," said Simcox.
He's busy coaching and watching his son, A.J. Simcox, who now plays ball for UT!
"There's nothing better than watching your son play, watching the team when they have success and watching them win because I know a lot of those kids," he said. "The old coach in me. I don't sleep well when they lose and I sleep better when they win."
His son plays, his daughter is a Diamond Girl for the team and his wife of 30 years has kept them all together.
"Very proud of both of them. They've both been great kids and my wife's probably been most responsible for that. Special," he said.
Larry Simcox, coaching in his blood, family in his heart, East Tennessee in his soul.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.