Jan. 31, 2013
Memory of VCU’s Keyes Lives On
By Sean Ryan
Va. – The life and legacy of longtime
VCU baseball coach Paul Keyes (left) were on celebrated Thursday
A crowd of baseball fans that nearly matched
Keyes’ 603 wins in 18 years with the Rams – including coaches
from William & Mary, Longwood and Randolph-Macon – turned out
for the third annual Hot Stove Banquet hosted by the Richmond
Flying Squirrels, the city’s fanatical Double-AA franchise of
the San Francisco Giants.
The event, which also featured Mississippi State
legend Will Clark and current Squirrels Chris Heston (East
Carolina) and Daryl Maday (Arkansas) among other players and
coaches past and present, served as a benefit to raise money for
the Paul Keyes Memorial Scholarship in honor of Keyes, who lost
his battle with cancer in November at the age of 50.
“He wasn’t just the baseball coach at VCU, he was
our brother and our friend,” said Todd “Parney” Parnell, vice
president and COO of the Flying Squirrels, who share home field
The Diamond with the Rams.
In addition to raising thousands of dollars for
the scholarship fund, Parnell announced that the Flying
Squirrels would wear special black and gold jerseys with Keyes’
No. 5 on the heart for their game on May 5 (5/5) and presented
wife Trisha Keyes a framed jersey.
that is where he is, in our heart,” said Parnell, named Minor
League Executive of the Year by Baseball America in 2011.
Former Rams Cody Eppley, now with the New York
Yankees, and Cla Meredith, who pitched in the majors for Boston,
San Diego and Baltimore before an arm injury, returned to
Richmond to share a few thoughts on their former coach.
“I knew Coach in a number of different ways, but
really, he was a cool guy,” Meredith said. “He gave me an
opportunity, and along with that opportunity, he allowed me to
Added Eppley: “Coach was one of a kind.”
VCU, which will play its first season in the
Atlantic 10 this year, will be led by Shawn Stiffler, who was
named head coach in December after serving six seasons as
pitching coach. Stiffler spoke about Keyes’ desire that the
program be left in the hands of the players, giving players not
only an opportunity, but also maintaining a program where
effort, accountability and integrity are rewarded.
Stiffler also spoke of Keyes’ impact on baseball
in Richmond and all of Virginia, noting that everyone in the
community seemed to know Keyes.
“Coach Keyes was like the Kevin Bacon of Richmond
baseball,” Stiffler said. “You could get to him within a couple
degrees of everyone.”
Keyes’ life will continued to be honored this
season and beyond: Earlier in the week, VCU and Old Dominion
announced the first Key Dog “Strike Out Cancer” Classic will be
played on April 23 at War Memorial Stadium in Hampton, Va.
Keyes, from Hampton, starred at Old Dominion and was a very
close friend and mentor of Monarchs coach Chris Finwood.
(photos courtesy of VCU Media Relations Office)