It may have been 50 years ago since Jim Pittman wore a Lipscomb baseball uniform, but when several players visited campus this past weekend for a reunion of the 1966 team they still huddled around to hear from the team captain. Pittman is retired from a career in public education. He spent some time this week with Lipscombsports.com.
What years did you play at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played from 1964-67. I was a pitcher.
Ken Dugan was the head coach. He did not have an assistant coach. My senior year Don Beazley was an assistant coach. He was actually a player/assistant coach.
"I was the team captain as a junior and a co-captain my senior year with Donnie Polk."
Why did you decide to attend Lipscomb to play baseball?
"When I graduated from Madison (Tenn.) High School I was planning to go to Tennessee Tech. But Coach Dugan came out to a summer league game I was playing in and talked with me and asked me if I would visit the school.
"I did and he offered me a scholarship so I decided to go to Lipscomb."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"That would have to be, without a doubt, beating Belmont in the NAIA District Championship my junior year in 1966. That was Coach Dugan's first team to win a district championship. The 1966 team was his first team to win 20 games.
"The 1966 team was a special team. Coach Dugan thought it was a special team. That team, and winning the first district championship, were very important to him and he just went on from there.
"I guess it was the comradery of the players. It was a young team. Mel Brown was the only senior. Donnie Polk and I were the only juniors. The others were freshmen and sophomores. There were some talented players. Everybody wanted to win. It was team-oriented. Everybody had fun playing together.
"I remember my senior year Coach Dugan won his 100th game. He talked about hoping he would win 500 games in his career (he won more than 1,000)."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"Without a doubt it would have to be Coach Dugan as far as the biggest influence. If he didn't make an impact on you, then you weren't going to be on the team very long.
"I coached for 12 years after I left Lipscomb and a lot of the things I learned from him I used coaching high school baseball. From a strategy standpoint Coach Dugan had a great set of pick-off plays, In high school I used those a lot.
"He was so detail-oriented. He taught the fundamentals. You had to be fundamentally sound.
"The other person would be Mel Brown. He was the catcher and a year ahead of me in school. We didn't have a pitching coach, but Mel was almost like a pitching coach. He and I just seemed to work together so well. I felt like I owe a lot of the success I had at Lipscomb to Mel. He was like a coach behind the plate."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"I had majored in accounting my first two years at Lipscomb. About halfway through my second year I decided I wanted to coach and that accounting wasn't for me. I decided to change majors and received a degree in physical education in 1968.
"Dr. Axel Swang was the chairman of the accounting department. Even after I changed majors I received so much support from Dr. Swang. He was at just about all of the baseball games. Dr. Swang and Coach Dugan went to bat for me when I needed it when I had a problem. Just knowing that he, along with Coach Dugan, cared enough to support me got me turned around."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"I learned a stick-to-it kind of thing. Because I changed majors after two years it took me five years to graduate. I got married after my athletic eligibility was over. I call that my first senior year. There were times when I thought about not finishing school.
"Coach Dugan showed me the importance of if you start something you stick to it. He taught me the importance of hanging with something even though after four years I thought it was time to get out."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"Dr. Axel Swang and `Fessor' Eugene Boyce. It would have to be those two.
"Dr. Swang was so supportive of the baseball program and me. I don't know why he chose to be so supportive of me. There was a real professionalism about Dr. Swang.
“`Fessor' Boyce was the same way. He was very professional. There were two or three times I went to him with questions. He always took the time to talk with you. It wasn't like he didn't have time for me. He was a very down-to-earth guy."
Where do you live now?
"I live in McDonough, Georgia.
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I spent 35 years in public education. I coached for 12 years in Clayton County, Georgia. I was in administration for the past 23 years. I retired from the local school system in 2001 then I worked two years with the Georgia Department of Education.
"I was an assistant principle at a junior high for five years and at a high school for two years. I finished in the central office, I was director of community education and partnership programs in Fayette County schools.
Tell us about your family.
"I have been married to my wife, Beverly, for 48 years. We have two children - one son, Jeff; and one daughter, Leigh. We have four grandkids, one granddaughter and three grandsons. And just six months ago our first great-granddaughter was born."
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org