Alabama baseball will be honoring one of its former players before Thursday night’s series opener against Ole Miss.
Former third baseman Tommy Belk passed away in October after a lengthy battle following a brain tumor diagnosis in 2001. He earned four letters at Alabama from 1976-79. His son, Cravens, will throw out the first pitch. Tommy Belk’s widow, Liz, and daughter, Virginia, will also be there.
Thursday also happens to be Cravens’ birthday, and would have been the 38th anniversary for Tommy and Liz.
“It’s a big day,” Liz Belk said. “It just happened that it’s the best day for all of us to do it on that day.”
Belk grew up in Tuscaloosa and played at Tuscaloosa High School. His father, Tommy Belk Sr., and uncle, Jerry Belk, were also Alabama baseball players.
Tommy Belk was nicknamed “Mater” by teammates for his red hair. He was one of five players from Tuscaloosa High that signed with Alabama together. One of his teammates, second baseman Tommy Smith, reached out to Alabama and asked about having a moment to honor his friend.
Belk led the team with a .309 batting average in 1979. He also made the SEC academic honor roll in 1977.
He remained in Tuscaloosa after his college career, working at Phifer Wire, then at Randall-Reilly for 20 years.
“He was a huge supporter of Alabama baseball,” Liz Belk said. “He left me a message one time and said ‘I’m going to be there for the first pitch, and if you’re not home and ready to go, then I guess I’ll go without you.’ He was determined to get there for the first pitch of the game.”
Several other members of Belk’s family and friends are also planning on attending Thursday’s game. The first pitch is scheduled for before the series opener begins at 6:00 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
“He was just a fighter,” Liz Belk said. “He loved life. He fought well. He just has an amazing group of friends and family. Even people that didn’t really know him that well really thought a lot of him.”