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1949 Outstanding Player to be Honored at State Baseball Championship

By Jeanne Acton, Journalism Director | Tuesday, May 13, 2014 2:04 PM

1949 State Baseball Championship program
1949 State Baseball Championship program

To celebrate the 65th anniversary of the UIL State Baseball Tournament, UIL will honor Robert Leach, who in 1949 was named the first outstanding player in a state championship. Baseball Tournament Director Darryl Beasley will honor Leach with a framed certificate before the 5A state championship game at the Dell Diamond on Saturday, June 7.

“We are going to share his many accomplishments before the crowd,” Beasley said. “Mr. Leach had a pretty amazing life in baseball both during the state tournament and after graduating from Denison High School.”

During the 1949 state tournament, Leach, a 16-year-old left-handed pitched, shut down Marshall High School with 21 strikes outs and a 10-inning no-hitter. Leach’s team won the game 1-0.

After the game, the Austin American-Statesman quoted Frank Taylor, the plate umpire, saying “he’s got the darndest curve I’ve ever seen.

“Sometimes it comes in, then zips out,” Taylor said. “Other times it’s out, then in. At first I thought my eyes were deceiving me when I saw that curve coming in there. But I watched him closely, and I'll be darned if he couldn’t do all kinds of tricks with the ball.”

After high school, Leach signed with the Cleveland Indians and pitched in the minors until he was drafted. After his military service, Leach played a bit more in the minors until he found his way into coaching where he had a long career.

Leach, who is now 81 years old, was an assistant coach to Bibb Falk for two years at the University of Texas at Austin, coached baseball at numerous high schools and ended his coaching career at Bee County College.

Beasley said he hopes the high school athletes at the tournament recognize that baseball doesn’t have to be over when they graduate.

“Leach had a very successful career, and he was always connected to baseball,” Beasley said. “Not every baseball player at the state tournament will go to the majors, but there are so many ways to stay connected to baseball and be very successful.”

At the state tournament, UIL also will honor the Coach of the Year, Barry Russell from Midland High School.