1966 Rosenwald State Champions Honored

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One year before Rosenwald high school was integrated 13 young men won the first ever baseball state championship in Bay County. Judge Tim Coon said, "It's almost unbelievable how talented we were able to put a team together." His 1966 teammate Reverend Leo Griffin added, "We had a wonderful team. We were considered country boys to go play against Miami and those schools it was a big honor for us."

The '66 team was the school's first baseball team in nearly 15 years. After ten wins in a row the Bulldogs managed two come from behind wins in the state playoffs in Orlando, and claimed the state title. It was a segregated championship, in a much different time."Being able to achieve what we achieved in spite of segregation. It's 44 years I don't think a year has gone by that I don't think about those times," said 2nd baseman David Cromartie.

The team brought home the Class AA Negro League title but they weren't celebrated. "You're state champs and you come back home and you're expecting a big parade and everything, but we didn't get that," added Cromartie.

For decades the team's story was mostly forgotten, buried under years of change. It took another team's championship to dig up the past. Mosley won the state title in 2002, and it was believed the Dolphins were the first team to win a state tittle. That assumption brought the bulldog's story to light.

8 years after Mosley's win, Rosenwald is officially in the record books as the first ever Bay County baseball state champs. The remaining members of the team aren't bitter about the oversight, in fact they're exactly the opposite.

1966 Rosenwald Assistant coach Leon Miller said, "Some of the predominantly black school's that were phased out are getting some recognition that they deserve. We have no grudge and the lord blessed us that this day would happen at the Bay County school board."
"Although it's coming 44 years late there's a reason for that I don't know why, but I think it's going to do great things for this community," added Coon.

Now that Bay County and the Florida High School Athletic Association recognizes their championship the 1966 bulldogs finally have their rightful place in history.

Four of the 13 from that team are deceased, but 6 of the 9 still living, were in attendance to get plaques commemorating their championship.