Stacey Atkins
Class of 2019

Stacey Atkins

Trinity High School historian James Walker calls Stacey Atkins the ‘Satchel Paige of north Alabama and south Tennessee.’

Robert Malone says Atkins was the greatest pitcher he has ever seen. But those athletic feats aren’t the thing they most remember about Atkins. It was his willingness and ability to mentor young athletes that really gained their admiration.

Atkins’ athletic feats plus his work with youth are what have finally earned him entry into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame.

Walker comparing Atkins to famous Negro League and Major League Hall of Fame pitcher Paige is not far-fetched, he said.

“Stacey was probably one of the best all-around athletes in the his- tory of this town, or even this state,” Walker said. “He had command of all his pitches. He had a blazing fastball, a sharp curve and a wicked slider. He was an extremely good hitter and also the quarterback of the football team.”

Atkins played at Trinity in the late 1930s, and was later a pitcher for the Chicago American Giants of the Negro American League. Once his play- ing days were complete, he came back to Athens and formed a local team

called the Athens Giants, which would play other teams from around the area. Malone, one of the players on the Athens Giants, said playing with a legend like Atkins was the thrill of a lifetime.

“Stacey was one of the great baseball players of North Alabama,” Malone said. “He was gracious enough to take time with some of us kids who were following him around and watching him practice and play. He started playing catch with some of us, and then let us play ball with him.”

Malone said Atkins didn’t just form the team, he played and coached and always took time out to work with each play- er.

“I was just fascinated to be able to play with him,” Malone said. “He developed me into someone who was almost in his league as far as throwing ability was concerned. I believe Stacey could have played for any Major League team in the country, but being a small-town boy from Athens, that wasn’t his cup of tea. He liked small-town teams, but he was one of the greatest pitchers you could ever see.” Several of the younger athletes Atkins mentored were also in the Hall of Fame.

“Stacey was like that. He spent a lot of time teaching young kids the game,” Walker said. “That means a lot. That’s one of the legacies of Trinity High School. We always passed it down from one generation to the next. And that went on for 105 years.” Atkins always had a love for Trinity, and he served as the voice of the Trinity Panthers for more than 10 years. He also drove a county school bus for many years.

“He was truly my mentor and a great friend, and that was the thing that was most impressive about him,” Malone said. “He had a sense of community and a sense of giving to others. He was just a great person.”

Walker said he is pleased to see such a giant of a man get recognized with an induction to the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame.

“We really are extremely proud of the fact he’s been selected to the Hall of Fame,” Walker said. “Personally, I think there should be more (from Trinity), but you accept what you can get. Stacey is certainly deserving, and we are very proud of the fact he is now in the Hall of Fame.”