A Greene County resident was inducted into the Piedmont Virginia Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame late last year.
The Piedmont Virginia Amateur Softball Association (PVASA) established a Hall of Fame in 2014 to recognize players, managers, sponsors, teams, umpires, commissioners, tournament directors and local officials who have made outstanding contributions to PVASA and to the sport of softball.
On Nov. 16, Haywood Shifflett was inducted into this prestigious group for his contributions as a team manager over the past 30 years. An awards banquet was held at the Bedford Moose Lodge where Shifflett was presented with a signed softball, two plaques and a Hall of Fame ring.
“It’s an honor to be honored as one of the best at what you did, to be honest with you. Believe me, it’s a lot of great ones come and went before I did,” Shifflett said. “And I don’t call myself great but it’s an honor just to be honored by your peers.”
Applicants for this honor must be over the age of 40 and are judged based on the length of service, fame at local levels and success competing in national and regional tournaments. For a manager or coach, they must have given 10 years of service in the Piedmont region to be considered.
According to Billy Branham, outgoing hall of fame chairman for PVASA, the committee tries to select people who reflect well on the organization as a whole. To this end, they send names of potential nominees to the commissioner who will check for any outstanding debts or criminal records before confirming the nomination.
“Haywood’s done it for ages. Over 30 years of coaching; they’ve won hundreds and hundreds of tournaments, both in the local level and regional and national levels,” Branham said. “A great gentleman; a true supporter of softball. His teams have done well, his players have done well; they stayed on the right track.”
Shifflett began his softball career as a first baseman for eight years before finding his calling as a manager, where he led teams such as Blue Run Grocery, Greene Merchants, P&L Market and B&R Softball for the next 30 years.
“I started out playing softball when I was real young,” Shifflett recalled. “For some reason, I got talked into a coaching job … and it lasted for 30 years.”
For over three decades, Shifflett worked full time while coaching softball on the weekends. His wife often traveled with him to various games and tournaments, and they made a lot of friends along the way.
“I’ve been blessed with some of the better players in the valley,” Shifflett said. “[Softball] took me a lot of places I never would have had a chance to go. We won the state title nine different times with different teams. It was a 30-year success on winning in softball.”
Shifflett finished his softball career on a definite high note.
“We quit coaching in I wanna say 2002; the last tournament I played in was in Glen Burnie, Md., and we finished fourth in the world. And I told my wife I said, ‘You know, I gotta leave here sometime. I said it ain’t gonna get no better than this.’ We ended up getting beat by two teams out of Texas the last time that we played.”
According to his hall of fame nomination, Shifflett won the respect of all those associated with the game including umpires, commissioners, opposing coaches and players. Ranking in the top five of winning percentages with over 75%, he managed multiple ASA State Championship teams at A, B and C levels. During his managerial career, he guided several Home Run Kings, including Mack Merica, Ray Powell and Kenny (Rabbitt) Shifflett. He also served as the player rep for PVASA for several years.
Over his 30-year career as a softball coach, the Shiffletts traveled up and down the East Coast. “We’d visit Florida a lot. Kalamazoo was a good trip. We’ve been all up and down the East Coast from Pennsylvania to Maryland, Georgia, Carolinas, we hadn’t been across the country but we went to a lot of places. Made a lot of friends, and still got a lot of friends in softball.”
When he wasn’t coaching, Shifflett held down a full time job in sales at Webster Brick in Somerset. After 39 years in sales, he was laid off in 2005, after which he worked for nine years in the public school system.
“William Monroe high, number two maintenance,” Shifflett recalled. “Did a little bit of everything: light janitorial work, done a lot of cooking for the teachers, too … I had a nice bunch of teachers. I made a lot of friends in the school system.”
Shifflett counts himself blessed for the jobs he’s held, the teams he’s coached and all the friends he made along the way, but is definitely glad to be retired.
“I’ve had a lot of people ask me to come back and coach,” he said. “But right now we’re into bluegrass, we’re into camping, we bought a motor home ... we’re enjoying something else,” he said.
Fellow 2019 inductees included players Monty Tucker, Lynwood Thomas, Darrin Nicely and Joey Clark; umpires Dave Brewer and Roberto Capuno; and manager Mike Mason.