Bogeys Bring Collegiate Baseball to Sandhills
03 Jun 2022
MLB legend Bernie Carbo is driven to nurture the lives of young players
By RAY LINVILLE » Photos by JOHN PATOTA
With a season that starts on June 5th and features a home opener on June 11th, the Sandhills Bogeys are bringing something new and exciting to our region: summer wood-bat baseball. The mascot, colors, and logo of the Bogeys pay homage to the golf culture of the Sandhills.
Guiding the team of college players as field manager is none other than Bernie Carbo, whose life experiences may be more valuable for shaping the Bogeys into winners than his 12 years in Major League Baseball.
Carbo is still pinching himself to make sure that he’s not dreaming about being the new team’s manager. “I’m so happy to be here. I love this community, and I get to be around the game of baseball that I love so much. What could be better?” he says.
The Bogeys are a new addition to the Old North State League, a collegiate baseball organization with teams across North Carolina. The league gives college players an opportunity to develop their baseball skills during the summer and showcase them to professional scouts and local fans.
Fortunately for the Bogeys and Carbo, he moved with his wife Tammy to Southern Pines last year, just months before Alec Allred, the league’s president and CEO, started his plans for the team.
A Major League rookie of the year who has been enshrined in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, Carbo is renowned for his baseball career. He is part of Boston’s baseball lore for hitting a three-run homer in game six of the famous 1975 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, the team that had drafted him in the first round in 1965 (ahead of legendary Johnny Bench).
Drawing on his successful baseball career, Carbo is already planning how he will coach his young players and what he wants them to remember about life and baseball:
- Get to first base. As Carbo says, every successful journey begins with a first step. Don’t delay.
- Work to be as good as you can possibly be. Carbo thinks often about how much hard work success takes. Nothing comes easy.
- Trust your team members. Baseball teaches you about teamwork, Carbo says. You can’t do it all alone. He points with confidence to his assistant coaches: Sandy McIver for pitching and Tom Shaffer, the third base coach, who will work with catchers and infield and outfield players.
- Build effective relationships. Your success is influenced by how well you work with others, Carbo says.
- Love what you do. Great players are great because they love the game, Carbo says as he reflects about the amazing trio of hitting coaches who helped him develop his batting prowess: Hank Aaron in Milwaukee, Stan Musial in St. Louis, and Ted Williams in Boston. They were all great because of their love for the sport.
- Understand that failure is part of every game. Think about how many times great batters fail to get on base, Carbo says. In baseball, you fail more times than you are successful. It’s OK to make mistakes.
- Stay positive. God will love you whether you strike out 100 times or hit 100 home runs, he adds.
- Finish strong. It’s not how you start, Carbo says, but how you finish. Your success is not determined by what you did yesterday.
About the last few points, Carbo describes one of his hitting slumps. “I went one hit for 35 at-bats and was benched. Then I went one for 35 again, so two for 70,” Carbo remembers.
The rest of the story? “I ended up the season at .286 and even hit .458 that final month,” he adds.
In 1,010 games, Carbo hit 96 home runs, none more famous than the one in the 1975 World Series, as well as 358 runs batted in. But not all that success led to everything positive.
Having survived drug use and an attempted suicide that he writes about his book Saving Bernie Carbo, he now focuses on helping young people avoid the pitfalls that he succumbed to at a similar age.
In 1993, Carbo founded the Diamond Club Ministry, an evangelical organization that ministers to families and their children through his love for baseball. He speaks at church events and addiction programs, and his recent travels have taken him from Wisconsin and Minnesota to Florida and Alabama.
His passion for baseball and life will be more than obvious when the Bogeys begin to play.
A “field of dreams” where all home games will be played was recently built on the southwest end of the Sandhills Community College campus. The new stadium has taken shape after 10 weeks of work to install fencing and level the field to make it ready for the inaugural season. Future plans include building a 1,000-seat grandstand.
“We’ll put in finishing touches in the next year or so, but the stadium is ready for the opening game. It’ll look like a miniature Fenway Park with a tall wall in right field,” Carbo says, referring to the Green Monster, the towering left field wall in Boston.
“It’s a beautiful ballpark in a beautiful setting. Everyone will have lots of opportunity to see young players who will advance from college to the big leagues,” he adds.
The Bogeys’ schedule continues through late July. Come and see the players of the future, and watch how they are being shaped on the field by their manager, who is also teaching life lessons for their time off the field.