Interview of the Week – Former Sussex Central Baseball Coach Woody Long
On Monday, June 13, the 1989 Sussex Central baseball team was inducted into the Delaware Baseball Hall of Fame. That Golden Knight squad capped a 21-0 season by defeating William Penn to win the state championship. The head coach of Sussex Central at the time was Woody Long and he reflected on that special seeason.
Pencek: This is the first team to be inducted into the Hall, does that provide extra meaning to what you accomplished?
Long: Due to the fact that this has never been done before, it really never entered our minds and then when the call came we were unbelievably honored and humbled.
Pencek: Was there a point during that season, that you realized Sussex Central was on the verge of something special?
Long: Having come off a 13-5 season in 1988 and having everyone return I felt we would be good, That is why I got some of my friends from college that were coaches in South Carolina to line up four games there over Easter break. We went 4-0 and beat the 1-A, 2-A, and 4-A state champion and the 4-A team was ranked 21st in USA Today. That’s when I had an idea they were special.
Pencek: What do you remember of the post-season run and the championship game against William Penn?
Long: Having two easy wins and then facing Caesar Rodney again with their all-state pitcher and falling behind 4-0. We brought in a young 10th grader Jeff Hudson who shut them down and coming back for a 5-4 win. That also left us with one of our aces remaining for championship game, Mark Briggs. He pitched the best game of his career with a 7-0 shutout of William Penn.
Pencek: What was your reaction when you learned that this team was being inducted into the Hall of Fame?
Long: Complete disbelief and then the joy of listening to the 17 boys when I told them. Plus all 17 will be at the induction . We have rented the entire picnic area at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington and hope to have 125 in attendance.
Pencek: What did winning the championship mean for the school?
Long: It really added to a great baseball tradition at Sussex Central and made the end of the school year really joyous but not just the school but the entire towns of Millsboro and Georgetown. They held parades and really made the boys feel special. The state even made a proclamation of one day being a Sussex Central baseball day.
Pencek: How often do you think about that season?
Long: Quite often because I still have contact with a lot of my boys and they still love talking about that special season. I cannot express what it means to to be going into the Hall of Fame with such a great group of young men.