In honor of former team broadcaster and major leaguer Charlie Lea, the Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) are creating an award to honor the city’s top high-school pitchers.
A selection committee, made up of six men prominent in Memphis baseball, has been chosen to nominate one pitcher each for the award. The committee consists of Prep Sports Reporter for the Commercial Appeal John Varlas, President of Dulin’s Baseball Tim Dulin, Baseball Head Coach at Bartlett High School Phil Clark, Baseball Head Coach at Arlington High School Chris Ring, Baseball Head Coach at Memphis University School Johnny Beard and Baseball Head Coach at Christian Brothers High School Buster Kelso.
Charlie Lea grew up in Memphis, was a graduate of Kingsbury High School and went on to attend Ole Miss, Shelby State Community College and Memphis State University. Lea was selected in June 1978 draft by the Montreal Expos, finding himself back in Memphis to play for their Double-A affiliate, the Memphis Chicks. The Orleans, France native pitched eight years in the majors, including a no-hitter with the Expos on May 10, 1981 in a 4-0 win over San Francisco in the second game of a doubleheader at Olympic Stadium. On Opening Night, Friday, April 13, the Memphis Redbirds also retired a microphone displayed below the radio booth at the end of the first inning in remembrance of Charlie Lea’s life and the 11 years he spent broadcasting for the Redbirds.
The six committee members will select three finalists on Monday, May 7 with a seventh vote being made by the public through memphisredbirds.com. The winner will be announced Thursday, May 24 and will receive the award, schedule permitting, at the Redbirds game on Tuesday, May 29.
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