Richmond Academy coaching legend is honored in ceremony

Former Richmond Academy baseball coach A.L. Williams has lost his sight, but his vision lives on.

The legendary high school coach, who started the Musketeers' baseball program in 1949, got to experience the program's future on Monday at the annual A.L. Williams Day at the field that bears the 88-year-old former coach's name.

The Musketeers, who squared off against longtime rival Westside in the final regular-season home game of the season, honored Williams with a pregame ceremony and a full day dedicated to him.

"We're trying to bring the baseball program back to its high standards," said Jim Pardue, the Richmond Academy baseball club chairman. "This is where we start -- with honoring A.L."

Williams led the Musketeers to seven consecutive state championships in the 1950s. He was greeted Monday afternoon by dozens of former players, including Jack Fisher, who went on to play 14 years in Major League Baseball.

Fisher pitched as part of four of the seven Richmond Academy state titles. He made the trip from his home in Pennsylvania to speak before the game in honor of Williams.

"He was the father figure of all father figures; not only to me, but to everyone he came in contact with," Fisher said. "He taught me a lot more than just baseball."

Williams' health has deteriorated in recent years, limiting him to weekly trips to Crawford Avenue Baptist Church on Sundays.

But Williams made his way to home plate in a wheelchair to rousing applause before Monday's game.

"This is a big day for him," his daughter, Carolyn Williams, said. "He's blind, but he's still got a sharp mind. He still remembers all his boys and what position they played and what they did. They'll always be his boys, and he'll always be their granddaddy."

Fisher also was honored before the game.

In addition, Richmond Academy's graduating seniors Luis Capella, Brady Hughes, Kenny Chancey and Brandon Lindsey were honored.

Pardue said three of the four seniors will graduate from the school's new International Baccalaureate program and plan to attend the University of Georgia.

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com.

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