Boozer’ Emerson will be outside the fence this weekend

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 2, 2002

[08/02/02]For three years, William “Boozer” Emerson helped lead the Vicksburg Dynamite to success on the baseball field. He hopped around coach’s boxes and threw his cap down on fields all over the South, guiding the team to a Babe Ruth regional and a Governor’s Cup championship.

This weekend, however, Emerson will be just a spectator as most of the members of the Dynamite now known as the Vicksburg Diamondbacks reunite to try for a second straight Governor’s Cup title.

After leading the team to the 12-year-olds’ championship in 2001, Emerson decided to let the team go its own way as they became teenagers. Although he won’t be coaching them this weekend, he said he’ll definitely be rooting for them.

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“I’ll be watching the Diamondbacks. They’re a special team to me,” Emerson said, catching himself as he nearly called the Diamondbacks by their old name. “I coached all of those kids for three years, and I hope they win it all because they’re always going to be a part of me.”

When he isn’t rooting this weekend, Emerson will be overseeing the second and final weekend of the Governor’s Cup as the tournament’s director.

Thirty-seven teams in five age groups will compete at Halls Ferry Park, including the Diamondbacks and last year’s 12-year-olds’ runner-up, West Monroe, which will play in the 13-year-olds’ age group. The 5-6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 9-year-olds and 11-12-year-olds will also play this weekend.

The 11-12-year-olds’ are the largest age group in the tournament with 16 teams, but Emerson felt the 13-year-olds would be the most competitive.

“I really look for the 13s to be a really competitive age group,” he said. “When you get the defending champion and the runner-up coming back, that’s a pretty good group.”

Emerson, 38, got his nickname because of his resemblance to Emerson Boozer, a bruising fullback with the New York Jets and a key member of their Super Bowl championship team in 1968. He has no children of his own but has been a volunteer coach in the Vicksburg Baseball Association for nearly a decade. Over that time, his antics on the field have earned him a place in local baseball lore.

He’ll often throw his cap to the ground or hop around in the coach’s box when his team misses an opportunity. The reaction often draws friendly laughs from parents of his players.

“He’s a lot of fun with the kids. He mixes a unique kind of humor with baseball,” said Bob Fitzgerald, the VBA’s current president and one of the coaches of the Vicksburg Copperheads, an 11-year-olds’ team that finished second in the Governor’s Cup last weekend. “He’s just a good guy. He cares a lot about the kids and has them at heart. He’s not somebody that’s really hard on them if they do bad.”

Emerson’s sense of humor also helps him bond with his players, said VBA vice president Wayland Hill, who has had two sons play for Emerson.

“He’s excellent. He’s a very good motivator. They seem to bond with him,” Hill said. “You take your hat off to him. He doesn’t have any children and he still comes out there and dedicates his time.”

It might not be long before Emerson has children of his own playing baseball, however he’s getting married in October. Until little Emersons are prowling the fields of Halls Ferry Park, he said his future wife encouraged him to keep coaching.

“I just enjoy it. You become sort of like a family … You become part of their lives, basically. You become like their big brother, and they’re like your little brother,” Emerson said, explaining his love for coaching. “She told me I could do it next year. She told I could quit when I want to.”