E-Twins enjoy special season, both on and off the field

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com
On and off the field, the 2003 Elizabethton Twins baseball squad was something special.
The squad was the pride of the town again this year, and they claimed another Appalachian League championship. But it was the things the team did off the field that made them true champions.
Participating in community service activities, including hospital visits, the team was true gentlemen wherever they were found.
"We appreciate the men and want them not only to be good ballplayers but to be good people," said team President Rev. Harold Mains. "And our city helps out in that area."
Perhaps the most touching stories of the team included things that happened spiritually, as well as on and off the field.
As a responsibility within the chapel program of Major League Baseball, Mains also served as chaplain of the team.
During the weekly chapel events, there was an average of 28 players attending the service, eight of whom were in church when they were home.
Mains invited a player to church, who never attended until the last Sunday before the playoffs.
"All of them were there who said they were going," he said. "I look as I'm going and (this player) comes in with this big Cadillac and Mike (Mains) went out to meet him."
"When it was over, he said, 'Revered Mains, if I had known what was going on here, I would've been here every Sunday."
Another player waited until the third week of the season before he came to church, and admitted to Mains that his season turned around once he was involved.
The team's chapel experiences were special, according to Mains, but it was the final days with the squad that really said something about the team's overall attitude.
After an opening loss at home against Martinsville, the team had to win the final two games on the road to become champions. Mains set up chapel with the team before their first road game against the Astros.
Said Mains: "We got beat the night before and I said, 'Men, tomorrow's our chapel schedule and we're going to be here tomorrow (for another game). I do have a few minutes, not the usual 30, and all I can say is to have prayer with you, win lose or draw.'
"So I had my prayer and every player was there but one, since it was not announced," he said. "I prayed and I didn't say Amen. I opened my eyes and said, 'Men, I don't know what else to say. The only thing I can say is Amen.'"
The Twins won that first game and before the second game they were instructed that if they wanted to go to chapel, they could. According to Mains the locker room was half the size of Elizabethton's home area and it was completely filled with players.
"When I walked in, you could hear a pin drop," he added. "And I looked to my left and there's Ray and Chad, who had 1,000 things to do.
"I had my chapel believing what I had was from the Lord and then I had the prayer," he continued. "The team won and they were in the locker room pouring water and everything. I asked Ray if it was all right to speak to the team and I went in and they stopped everything.
"I said, 'Men, we started this on June 16th with a prayer when I met you in our clubhouse. The season is over and this is the last time I'll see some of you. There's no better way to close out than to have a prayer.'
"I had a prayer and when I came to the Amen, it sounded like every man in the clubhouse had said Amen."
The Twins story continues off the field as several parents and fans from other cities, including Martinsville and nearby Danville, complemented the city of Elizabethton and the Twins baseball club.
"Denard (Span's) mother came up and said, 'Rev. Mains I personally want to thank you and the city of Elizabethton for taking good care of my boy,'" Mains said. "Brock (Peterson's) father (Norm) said he was so proud to be in Elizabethton and the people were so nice.
"Earlier in the season, we had a Danville fan who watched the first game, came back for the second and said, 'Don't tell anyone, but I'm going to be an Elizabethton Twins fan from now on.' We also had several Martinsville people comment on how we treated them in Elizabethton."
The Twins were also well received at their Martinsville hotel after the championship series, where the manager said they were the best group of young men we've ever had in our hotel.'
On the field, Elizabethton's achievements were just as impressive.
Dusty Gomon and Chris Schutt both made the Appy League All-Star squad.
At the end of the regular season, Ron Perodin led Elizabethton with a .335 batting average, while Schutt led the team in pitching with a 5-2 record and a 1.98 ERA, adding a league-high 72 strikeouts. Evan Meek led the squad with 7 victories.
Elizabethton had the best overall pitching in the league with a combined 3.13 ERA and was third best in hitting. Gomon led the league with 15 home runs while Brock Peterson tallied nine with his league-high 53 runs scored.
Kyle Phillips led the league with 49 RBI and tallied a team-high 71 hits on the season, while Gomon contributed 46 RBI of his own.
Added Mains: "It was just a great summer on and off the field. Some way the people need to know they just don't play ball, they have needs."