North Surry didn’t have to look far in its search for a head baseball coach.
The Greyhounds have hired Tony Martin, who was formally introduced to the team at a press conference on Wednesday at North Surry.
Martin replaces Travis Gammons, who stepped down in June for personal reasons, according to North Surry principal Neil Atkins. Gammons, who coached for four seasons at North, will continue to teach at the school, said Atkins.
Martin was a three-sport star at North Surry, where he graduated in 1979. He played baseball at East Tennessee State before returning to the community and eventually starting his own business. Martin said the Greyhounds reached out to him about the job.
“It’s exciting. It’s always good to get back to your alma mater,” Martin said. “Baseball, I’ve always enjoyed the game. Once you play, you always have that desire. Giving back to the young men in this program is something I think I can help them with. It’s something I look forward to.”
Atkins said there were around 15 to 20 candidates who showed interest in the coaching vacancy. Of the several who interviewed for the position, Atkins said Martin was the best candidate.
“We feel very strongly that he’s the right fit for our program,” Atkins said. “He’s a baseball guy. Baseball is in his blood. That’s what we want. We feel very fortunate.”
Atkins said Martin’s baseball knowledge, passion for the game, and strong character put him at the top of the list.
“Tony’s well-known in our community, and has been for years,” Atkins said.
Martin and his wife Deena currently live in the Pine Ridge/Beulah area. The couple has three children, Lee, Anna and Molly. Lee Martin, a former basketball standout at North Surry and Catawba College grad, is now an assistant basketball coach at Hargrave Military Academy. Anna Martin, an N.C. State grad, teaches at North Surry, and Molly is a sophomore softball player at N.C. State.
Tony Martin had a stellar baseball career at East Tennessee State from 1980-83. Martin holds the Bucs record for a single season on-base percentage of .548 in 1983 and has the school record for career stolen bases with 75. Martin is the school’s all-time leader with 19 career triples (second all-time in the Southern Conference), and is second all-time with 75 stolen bases
Also, Martin sits in third place in the school record books for career batting average (.359), runs scored (193) and walks (113). Martin was a two-time SoCon all-conference selection (1981, 83) and is a member of the .400 club (.418 in 1983).
He said he had dreams of playing pro baseball, and was in negotiations with a pro team his junior year of college, but it did not work out.
“I’ve been involved with organized sports for a long time,” said Martin, who has worked in the area’s summer softball programs.
Martin takes over a Greyhounds team that posted an 8-14 overall record this past season, and finished fifth out of six teams in the Western Piedmont 2A Conference.
On the upside, North had just two seniors listed on the 2014 roster, and brings back some talented players, including returning all-conference selections Brady Watts and Nick Wilson. Watts, a rising junior pitcher, contributed to Region 7’s gold medal win in the Powerade State Games held in Charlotte in June. Wilson, a rising senior, hit a two-run homer in the Greyhounds’ WPC victory against county rival Surry Central.
Tony Martin is excited about getting to know the players and getting to work. He said fans can expect to see a tough team with an aggressive style.
“Hopefully we’ll bring a good product to them and get a lot of people out,” he said.