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By Olivia Carson
A former player and valuable member of the RCBL, Carl McNett, was honored at Montezuma Ruritan Park on Tuesday June 30 in the Braves matchup against the Elkton Blue Sox.
Carl McNett was an important player for the Braves as he was the individual who got the team started in the 1950s and initially labeled them the Briery Branch Braves. The team changed their name to the Montezuma Braves in 2001, long after Carl’s son Donnie stepped in as the team's president.
Donnie has been involved with the Braves for 35 years, following in the footsteps of his father, doing what is best for the team and hoping to one day send the Braves to another championship (the last one was in 2006).
It is all about keeping the family tradition alive for the McNett family as both Donnie and Joe have made the team a huge part of their lives and continue to be involved as long as they can.
Donnie can recall many memories of his dad playing baseball for the Braves and traveling to Clover Hill and other towns in Rockingham County for games. When asked what he thought made his father want to be such a big part of the team, Donnie responded with “he just loved the game.”
During the year 1950 is when Carl McNett started up with the Braves. Donnie says his dad just got a group of local guys together who all had a passion for the game like himself and started a team. It was a very family friendly atmosphere as some of Carl’s teammates were also his family members. Close family member Ken McNett, remembers watching as Carl, his brothers and some of his cousins compete on the ball field when they first started out.
Carl’s grand-daughter Erin agreed with Ken that Carl possessed a very competitive gene that was passed down to everyone in the family. His competitive and determined nature is what made it so fun to watch him play on the ball field.
Both Donnie’s children, Joe and Erin, grew up helping their dad on the field and have found themselves still continuing to support the Braves and spending most of their summers with family and friends at Montezuma Ruritan Park.
“It started in me really young and I just kept it up ever since,” says Joe McNett who has now recently taken over as the President of the Braves team. Joe has been involved with the team as long as he can remember, helping with field maintenance and anything that needed to be done at the park. “I've done it my whole life.”
Erin Brooks, Joe’s sister, says her favorite thing about growing up working with the Braves was the overall atmosphere of Montezuma Ruritan Park and getting to experience the whole community come together and have a good time.
“Everyone calls it the field of dreams, and it really reminds you of that you know with the corn field in the background, just being here with...family and friends...it's pretty fun,” says Brooks.
Brooks worked the Montezuma concession stand when she was younger and remembers riding around on the four wheeler with her dad getting ready for games. As her family is still involved with the Braves, she hopes that her now 8 year old daughter will help to carry on the family tradition.
In memory of Carl McNett, the Braves were able to end the night with a significant 11 - 0 win over the Elkton Blue Sox right on the “Field of Dreams” in Montezuma.
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