By Maurice Patton
Eddie Bassham, who won more than 600 baseball games and led Mt. Pleasant to three state runner-up finishes over a coaching career that spanned six decades, will have the school’s field named in his honor.
The Maury County Board of Education approved the request by administrators at the school during Monday night’s meeting to recognize Bassham, who guided the Tigers to Class A state runner-up finishes in 1989, 1998 and 2004.
“We knew going into the season this was going to be his last season,” assistant principal and co-athletics director Eric Hughes said. “Several felt it was appropriate for everything he’d given to the program over the years.”
According to Hughes, MCPS has a policy regarding the naming of facilities that involves a committee and also requires that the honoree be retired for at least five years. And while Bassham has been retired twice – following the 2004 season, and again in 2015 – he was in his second year of his third stint at the Tiger helm when his name was put forth for the recognition.
“We’re very appreciative of the board to allow the field to be named for Coach Bassham,” said Hughes, who played on the 1989 team. “He stepped back in in ’19, but the board was very gracious to take that into consideration and waive that. They realized the commitment he had made to the school and the kids and the community during that difficult time.
“We felt like now was the appropriate time. You hate the way the season ended, but this was a way to honor him.”
After a stint as an assistant at Middle Tennessee Christian – under son Brandon – a tenure as coach at Columbia Academy and a second retirement, Bassham returned for the 2019 season and was serving as the team’s coach at the time that high school athletics were shut down in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A week into the schedule, the Tigers were 0-2 at the time of the stoppage.
The naming is particularly appropriate considering Bassham was such a force behind the on-campus facility in addition to the success he enjoyed on it.
“He was instrumental in the construction of the field,” Hughes said. “He had a vision of a field on campus, he raised the funds, he spent countless hours preparing the field. He built it from the ground up.”
A ceremony is planned for March 27 with the Tigers set to play Eagleville – coached by Brandon.
“Coach Bassham is well deserving of this honor,” said Neylan Roberts, a member of the 2004 team and a former Mt. Pleasant baseball coach as well. “He poured his heart into the Tiger baseball program and into the young men that he coached.
“He taught those of us that were fortunate enough to play for him about how to be successful in the game of baseball, but most importantly, he taught us how to be successful in life.”
Hughes said a search is ongoing for Bassham’s successor, with hopes of his replacement being named by the end of the month.
Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @mopatton_sports.