The legendary B.C. Crowell brought sports to Newton County youngsters
By JOEY PETERS
B.C. Crowell bows out of Newton’s recreation commission, but not
before making an ever-lasting change in the lives of thousands.
Photo by Sue
Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series chronicling the
achievements of B.C. Crowell. Part one focuses on his career, while part two
will focus on his wishes for the future of Newton County.
COVINGTON — After 60-plus years of tireless dedication to the children of
Newton County, the old ball coach is hanging up his whistle.
Billy Carl Crowell, better known as B.C. to the
estimated 50,000 youngsters
he has influenced over the years, will be stepping down from his post at the
Newton County Recreation Commission at the end of this month.
“I just decided it was time to move on and get of the way,” Crowell joked as he
sat in a sprawling conference room at the Turner Lake Complex named in his
Decorating the walls of this room are dozens of plaques and awards Crowell has
earned over the years from various organizations, plus an oil painting that
shows him when he returned to Newton County in 1949 after a stint with the
United States Navy.
“I graduated from Oglethorpe University in 1944 with a physical education
degree, and then I decided to continue my education. ... I was told that Emory
was geared more towards medicine, so I chose South Carolina.”
Crowell, an already established baseball player who had played in the New York
Yankees farm system, proceeded to talk about one of the many incredible
sports-related events he has achieved over his life.
“I was able to play in one football game while I was there they called Big
Thursday. ... turns out it just happened to be against Clemson. I do not know if
it was really an accomplishment because there were not that many players on the
team, anyone could have made it,” Crowell said.
After a lucky assignment from the Navy that brought him back to Newton County,
Crowell took a job with the Bibb Manufacturing Company as Porterdale’s athletic
Operating on a shoestring budget with only one field along the Yellow River,
Crowell is regarded by many as the one man who brought sports to the children of
“Getting football started is an expensive venture, but I knew that I had one
huge fan of football in this town and that was Bibb president Robert ‘Choo Choo’
Train, who was a Yale graduate. ... He told me that if I was going to start
football that he would certainly be the money man,” Crowell said.
Besides being viewed as an almost iconic figure in the community, Crowell has
had the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the most famous baseball players
who have ever lived, including the Babe himself. “The man I credit with introducing me to sports, Sherrod Smith, asked me if I
wanted to go meet Babe Ruth when I was 12 years old. ... We left at 4:30 a.m.
heading to Thomaston to meet his train and watch him play. ... when we got there
30 minutes passed and finally he stepped off the train and gave Sherrod a big
bear hug,” Crowell said. “We went to the game, and all of a sudden Ruth came up
into the stands in full uniform and gave me an autographed baseball. I was
Crowell also had a good friendship with legendary Red Sox slugger Ted Williams.
“I played baseball with Ted in the Navy when we were stationed in Atlanta, and
he was one of the finest men I have ever met,” Crowell said. “I remember one
time he asked me if I saw the ball hit the bat when I hit it, and I said ‘No, do
you?’ He responded by telling me ‘Every time.’”
Perhaps the best thing that ever happened to Crowell while in the Navy came one
night when he was refereeing a basketball game and one of the players caught his
“I met my wife one night when I was refereeing a women’s basketball game at
Oglethorpe, and she fouled out of the game. ... Needless to say, she was not too
fond of me at that moment”
Taking a chance, he said that he asked if she would go to a football game
between Georgia Tech and LSU with him. She said yes and 57 years later they are
Coach, father, Boy Scout leader, baseball player, community leader, and more
than anything else, friend, are some of the words used to described Crowell
during interviews with various members of the community. However, with his legacy forever etched into the memories of thousands of
people, there is one title that might fit him better than anything else –
Crowell looks to future of rec dept.
B.C. Crowell shares a few fond memories with Newton County
Recreation Commission Vice Chairman Johnny Presley at an open house retirement
party held in honor of Crowell’s retirement on Monday.
Photo by Shannon Peacock
Editor’s Note: The following is the second in a two-part series covering the
career of B.C. Crowell, one of Newton County’s most beloved sports figures.
COVINGTON — As legendary local resident and coach B.C. Crowell prepares to
step down from his post at the Newton County Recreation Commission after six
decades of service, he leaves behind a department that has grown by leaps and
bounds during his storied career.
New parks, better equipment and a renewed focus from county officials towards
the importance of maintaining recreational areas has helped the recreation
commission achieve goals that Crowell said were only dreams in the past.
“This facility here at Turner Lake Park is unbelievable. ... I hope that in the
future we can continue to build more places like this in Newton,” he said.
Situated on a 158-acre tract of land near the 26-acre Turner Lake, the complex
has been heralded by numerous environmental organizations and has become a
magnet for residents since opening in the late 1990s.
While Turner Lake has become the rec department’s centerpiece since its opening,
Crowell still holds a fond place in his heart for the field where it all started
for him in the late 1940s – the Yellow River Ball Field. “It sat right on the river in Porterdale, and we used that field for
everything,” Crowell said. “ It is a real shame what’s become of that place. All
of the bleachers have been torn down and it has gone unattended for years. ...
It really is a shame.”
Local residents who had Crowell as a coach during their childhood also shared a
fondness for the old field, but most added that they did not miss the sandspurs
that were prevalent all over the field.
“They would stick to your clothes all the time, and heaven forbid if you fell
down out there,” one resident said while reminiscing with Crowell last week.
Despite the field’s present condition, Crowell said he was hopeful that in the
future officials with the city of Porterdale and the recreation commission could
work towards refurbishing the park for the next generation of youngsters.
The hopes and dreams that Crowell has for the future of the rec commission may
seem ambitious to some, but he said that ultimately he would like to see Turner
Lake-type facilities in every corner of the county.
“I would like to see our efforts expand to the four corners of the county. ...
There should be more facilities like Turner Lake in this community, which was
made possible by the Arnold Grant and money generated from Newton’s SPLOST
program,” Crowell said. “This commission is in great hands with Tommy Hailey,
though. He’s more like me than any other person I know.”
He added that in the past, coming up with money to finance projects was a
difficult task, but with SPLOST money, the possibilities for the future are
“People are getting smarter around here about the benefits of SPLOST. ... Just
look at the recent vote we had where 90 something percent of the vote was in
favor. ... If we were to have another SPLOST dedicated to recreation, we could
build some more complexes in this county,” Crowell said.
He added that although more recreational complexes and open space areas are
needed, the commission has issues that demand addressing first.
“We really need to add more ball fields to this county, and I am really not
interested in swimming that much, because it is so expensive to maintain,”
Crowell said. “I am not against swimming in any way, but we need to fund the big
three sports first.”
When it comes to the future of sports in general, Crowell said one sport in
particular is catching on quickly.
“Kickball is going to be the greatest sport we have ever seen, you wait and see.
... It is like playing baseball, but you use your feet,” he said. “ We just
injected it into our recreation program, and it has taken off.”
Reflecting on a legacy that has touched the lives of thousands and helped mold
the fabric of Newton County, Crowell fought back tears during an interview last
However, when it came to summing up all that he has accomplished, his words were
straight to the point and in classic Crowell style.
“I guess I have had myself quite a career,” he said.