It Came from the Archives: A Wiregrass Baseball Legend

Troy University's Wiregrass Archives features the scrapbook of Wiregrass baseball legend Leroy Barkley.

Troy University's Wiregrass Archives features the scrapbook of Wiregrass baseball legend Leroy Barkley.

The Wiregrass Archives at Troy University’s Dothan Campus serves as a community archives and research center for about 30 counties in the Wiregrass area of Alabama, Georgia and Florida. It identifies, preserves and makes available to researchers and the public at large records and papers of enduring value from organizations, businesses and individuals in that 30-county service area.

This means the Archives collects things you’d expect, like records of the Troy University Dothan Campus and its predecessor, but it also means we have large and small collections of personal papers and memorabilia. Some of these shed light on people, organizations and events who might otherwise be lost to history in a few years.

One of these collections is the Leroy Barkley Scrapbook that the Archives acquired from staff member Tina Bernath’s work with longtime Wiregrass-area baseball coach Sammy Frichter. Coach Frichter put out the word that the Archives was interested in local sports records, and Mr. Barkley responded.

The scrapbook covers Mr. Barkley’s time as a member of the Wallace Community College baseball team, the Governors, in 1977 and 1978. The first player from Graceville, Florida, to sign a WCC scholarship for baseball, Barkley was something of a phenom as a center fielder with a high school career batting average of .503, with nine homers. Those stats will keep you in the majors, and Barkley made All-State and All-Conference teams in both his sophomore and junior years (no information on his senior year was available).

He was tough right out of the box for the Govs, and in the L. B. Wallace Classic on March 18-19, 1977, hammered seven hits in 12 at-bats, though they lost their final game to L. B. Wallace 8-3. Five weeks later, he was 6 for 6 with a double and five singles in the Govs’ victory over Marion Institute, and though the Govs fell again to L.B. Wallace in the championship game, Barkley was unanimously selected for All State and awarded Player of the Year in 1977. He batted .487 that year.

Barkley’s 1978 season was just as good.  He popped his 100th hit for the Governors on April 1, just five weeks before he ended his junior college career on May 7 by graduating. He set records for the team’s fewest season and career strikeouts, bested the walks record, and posted a .476 career batting average that the local newspaper thought might have been the best college average in the nation (at the time of printing). In 1978, he made the All-Conference, All-Regional and All-Southeastern teams, and earned the MVP award from the Govs.

The scrapbook ends with some photos and award certificates as well as a newspaper article that noted three pro teams were courting Mr. Barkley. To find out how he fared after Wallace Community College, I called him at Graceville (Fla.) High School.

Mr. Barkley was disappointed that he wasn’t drafted for an MLB team, but played five years on the semi-pro Pensacola Sea Gulls while working. He coached baseball at Merritt Island (Fla.) High School for five years, and now coaches baseball at Graceville High School.

It Came from the Archives is an ongoing series spotlighting the fascinating collections at the Wiregrass Archives. To find out more, visit us online at or in person in Everett Hall on the Dothan Campus.