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UWA baseball gets big league visitor

By Staff
Jamie Sullivan/Staff writer
Jan. 27, 2002
LIVINGSTON, Ala. The Los Angeles Dodgers' Jeff Branson was in town Saturday night to help kick off the annual Grand Slam Dinner for the University of West Alabama Baseball team.
Branson, a former player at UWA, was the guest speaker at the dinner.
Branson spoke to the audience of about 150 people, on work ethic. Branson gave the team a list of ways to become better players, by working more.
Hoss Bowlin, former UWA baseball coach, accepted the honor of recruiting Branson from Choctaw County, Ala., in 1986.
After being introduced by Bowlin, Branson presented Bowlin with a Cincinnati Reds' jersey, that he wore earlier in his playing days.
After Branson's speech, second year head coach Gary Rundles announced the 2002 UWA Tiger Baseball team.
Upon the player presentation, Rundles assured his team they would make it to the big show.
West Alabama will open its 2002 season on Feb. 2., when they travel to Magnolia, Ark., to tangle with Southern Arkansas.
Conference champions it'll be, as the Tigers will face the defending South Eastern Conference Champions, Mississippi State on April 24 at Starkville.
Also on hand for last nights dinner was current Cincinnati Red, Scott Sullivan.
Sullivan, a native of Livingston, was a teammate of Branson, when he was at Cincinnati.
Walt Simmons of West Point, Miss., a senior baseball player at UWA has broken three of Bransons' records, and Saturday night he had the opportunity of meeting Branson for the first time.
Branson once held the career home run record of 29, now Simmons holds it with 32. Simmons has also broken the runs scored record, and the career RBI record that were once held by Branson.
Branson picked on Simmons, while trying to pose for a picture, saying he didn't want to take a picture with him, because he's breaking all of my records.
Players, family, friends, and alumni had the opportunity to talk, take pictures and receive autographs form Branson and Sullivan after the ceremonies.