The Lenoir Oilers were actually formed in 1964 when 3 friends and a businessman decided to form a semi-pro baseball team. These boys played all over the Southeast and in just 4 years from their inception, won the state tournament! Back then, the National Championship was played in Wichita, Kansas and you couldn't go to the National Championship unless you won your state championship. The Oilers went to Kansas five times! They played Florida State when the Seminoles won the NCAA Championship, and beat them! I have some of those memories written down for me from the founder of the team, Carl Richards. (Click HERE to read) One of the amazing things about this team is that the players who still live in the area get together on the first Tuesday of every month and eat breakfast at Clarence's Friendly Lunch! (Clarence's, as we call it, is a little restaurant in Whitnel that is more popular for their breakfast than their lunch!) In all, the Lenoir Oilers lasted 42 years.....until now!
One of the Oilers players, who played in the late 90's, was so impressed with the fan support and the history of the team, he decided that he wanted to own the team one day. Just last summer, he purchased the franchise! His name is Clifton Bennett. With the help of his best friend Kevin Bumgarner, they developed a plan to bring the Oilers back to Walker Stadium in Lenoir. Kevin met Clifton when they were umpiring baseball games around the region, and they struck up a friendship! Clifton says that he bought the team so Kevin will have something to do when he retires from umpiring! So, Clifton is the owner and Kevin is the General Manager. In the last several months, Kevin put together a "front office" of resourceful people in our community that he believed would make the team a success. We have been meeting, planning, and recruiting since November. And now we are marketing, fundraising, and renovating our home field, Walker Stadium.
Walker Stadium is in downtown Lenoir, and is named after two hometown brothers named Verlon Walker and Rube Walker. Verlon was a longtime coach for the Chicago Cubs, and Rube was a catcher for the Dodgers in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles, and the Chicago Cubs.