MILAN – Donny Joyner appeared uncomfortable as the attention was on him on Monday.
He was caught by surprise when he figured out the baseball program at Milan High, where he coached from 1986-2007 honored him by naming the field the Bulldogs play on after him.
“I blame Greg Scott for this,” said Joyner, who still coaches Milan’s golf teams. “He got me here under false pretenses.
“[Scott Paterson] gave me the lineup card, and I knew something was up.”
The game was the first scheduled home game for the Bulldogs this season, and the school wanted to bestow the honor upon him.
He was talked in being the honorary coach delivering the starting lineup card to the umpires at home plate before the Bulldogs’ game against Dyersburg.
As public address announcer Clay Cotham started talking, he began announcing the long list of the Bulldogs’ accomplishments under Joyner’s tenure.
That list included the 2004 Class AA state championship, a runner-up finish in 2001 and a third-place finish in 1990 that were all part of a career record of 475-193.
“They started doing that, and then I saw them bringing the sign in, and it was too late something then,” Joyner said.
The loudest applause came when there was a pause in the list of accomplishments to play a recording of the broadcast by Milan radio play-by-play man Sam McElroy calling the final out when the Bulldogs won the 2004 Class AA state championship.
“This isn’t a one-guy thing,” Joyner said. “I’ve said for years and years I had the two best assistant coaches around with Todd Holden and Scott Paterson.
“Things sure are easier when you have great assistants, and then when you have some great players like we’ve had, you’re bound to win a couple of games here and there.”
Milan beat Dyersburg in extra innings 2-1 after an errant throw to first allowed the winning run to score while the ball rolled into right field.
Brandon Shields, 425-9751
• Years coached: 1986-2007
• Career record: 475-193 (71 winning percentage)
• 13 20-win seasons
• 10 district championships
• 4 region championships
• 6 sectional appearances
• 3 state tournaments
• Was named 2004 TBCA Class AA and All-West Tennessee Coach of the Year