Terry Harper was a little reluctant to sign up for a youth baseball team at the city of Douglasville baseball park growing up.
He was finally convinced by a friend, who didn’t want to be the only Black on the team, to give it a try.
Harper did, and ironically, a week later his friend discovered he was too old to play on the team.
Harper remained on the team, and would become a standout player growing up in Douglas County.
Drafted out of Douglas County High, Harper enjoyed a 20-year professional career, including seven seasons with the Atlanta Braves from 1980-86.
Last week, the city of Douglasville Parks and Recreation Department renamed a baseball field in his honor at Hunter Memorial Park.
“I was kind of surprised, it was not what I was expecting,” Harper said. “ I knew they were going to do something, but not to that extreme. I’m really overwhelmed.”
The renaming ceremony took place on Opening Day of the baseball season for the city’s parks and recreation department and was attended by Mayor Rochelle Robinson.
“We are so excited to be able to recognize local legend Terry Harper in this way,” said Douglasville Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Chris Bass. “He has had such an impact on baseball in our community and we thought it was only fitting that we rename a baseball field in his honor.”
Harper was accompanied by his family, including his wife, two daughters and a granddaughter.
Harper’s daughter, Asa, drove down from Charlotte to be a part of the ceremony.
“This is where it all got started for me,” said Harper, who played youth baseball for the Douglasville Rebels. “It was great having my family here. I’m big on family.”
Harper said he didn’t have a particular special memory of playing at the park, but just the long-lasting friendship he has with his former teammates and coach — Dennis Chandler.
“He was tough in a good way,” Harper said. “I’m still friends with him. The friends that I played with on that team, we still keep in touch. It has be friendships that have lasted a lifetime.”
Harper signed with the Atlanta Braves in 1973, and remained with the organization for 16 years as either a player or coach. He finished his nine year-run in the big leagues in Detroit and Pittsburgh.
After his playing days were over, Harper worked as a coach helping individuals and teams improve their hitting skills. He coached the Greenville Braves, Douglasville Bulls, and various youth and high school teams in the area.
Through his nonprofit organization — International Sports Connection — Harper has had an impact baseball internationally. Through this organization, Harper has been able to provide support to low-income youth baseball players in Douglas County, the Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean Islands.
“Baseball has been a big part of my life,” he said.