ETSU pitcher Phil Pierce, left, started when the Bucs beat Joe Carter-led Wichita State in the NCAA Regional in 1980. Billy Joe Bowman, right, beat Southern Cal and Princeton and hit a home run while helping Tennessee finish runner-up in the 1951 CWS.
Science Hill Hall of Famer Billy Joe Bowman will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Wednesday’s Johnson City-Greeneville Astros game at Cardinal Park. Bowman was a long-time coach for the Houston Astros when their players included four-time All-Star selection Cesar Cedeno, who is now Greeneville’s hitting coach.
“I used to write all of his love letters to his girlfriends,” Bowman said with a chuckle. “He said he couldn’t write them. He was a good ballplayer ... and he's done a good job for (Greeneville).”
Bowman pitched in the state championship game when Science Hill won the 1947 state title. In 1951, he beat Southern Cal and Princeton and homered against the Trojans while helping Tennessee to a runner-up finish in the College World Series. Bowman advanced to Triple-A and won 56 games in the minors, a pro career which began with the Johnson City Cardinals. He was 11-3 with a 2.10 ERA in 1953 during his only season with Johnson City, a team he’d unofficially begun his career with many years earlier as batboy.