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Field renamed for former coach

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Patterson’s legacy cemented

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    Patterson speaks during the ceremony to rename the JCHS baseball field in his honor. BRAD HARRISON/STAFF
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    The Patterson family gathers in front of the wall that now bears Cecil Patterson’s name. BRAD HARRISON/Staff
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    Patterson takes the mound for a ceremonial pitch during last Friday’s event. BRAD HARRISON/Staff

One did not have to look far to see the impact that Cecil Patterson made on countless lives on Friday night.

Before the Greyhounds took the field for a baseball contest, a gathering of family, friends and former players, coaches, colleagues and students came together for one reason: to honor all that Cecil Patterson had meant to them through the years in one way or another.

The exclamation point was placed atop that appreciation with a pre-game ceremony officially renaming the baseball field at Jones County High School as Cecil Patterson Field. The field’s name includes lettering on the left field wall, the same part of the ballpark of which the highest individual honors of the Greyhounds baseball program are celebrated, those who have made it to the major leagues. Patterson also threw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch.

“When someone looks out and see that name and asks who it was, I want someone to tell them ‘that guy was caring, fair and wanted to make everything and everyone better, that’s the legacy I want to leave,” Patterson said during Friday’s pre-game ceremony. “If you want to make a difference, you have to be a difference.”

Friday’s ceremony, with close friends and family seated behind Patterson, included remarks from Jones County Schools Superintendent Charles Gibson, JCHS athletic director Barry Veal and Greyhounds head baseball coach Jason Page.

“There are so many others who should be up here, because they all have helped me so much,” said Patterson, who did mention Robert Curtis, to which the crowd applauded.

Patterson’s impact came in the community that shaped him as he attended Idella Duncan Elementary, Maggie Callif and Jones County High School before earning degrees from Middle Georgia College, Mercer University, Georgia College and Clark Atlanta University. He’d go on to earn All American honors at Mercer prior to starting his coaching career at Jones County High School in 1977, coaching football, basketball and baseball.

He compiled a 12-year record of 250-65 as the Greyhounds baseball coach, winning the state title in 1989 along with nine region titles and nine region coach of the year honors. In 1994, he was inducted into the Mercer University Baseball Hall of Fame.

Now, his hall of fame impact on players, coaches, teachers and students will be forever recognized one the baseball diamond at JCHS.

“It’s special to me because when you look around, there’s family, there’s the Father Almighty, friends, former players and there’s even some food for me around the corner, what more could a man ask for?” Patterson said. “This is perfect, and it’s all because of a job that I tried to do and it was one that I truly loved.”

An educator in Jones County since 1976, he would serve the community as assistant principal at Gray Elementary and JCHS. In 2010, he accepted the School of Excellence Award when it was presented to GES.

“I had some awesome players and what made it so much better, they were even better off the field and made my job that much easier,” Patterson said. “I’d have done this job for free because of what they did for me. For them to come back later and say thank you for all you’ve done for us, that was my pay. This is the best community you could think of raising a family in, I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. Jones County is my home, I love Jones County.”