Jim Campbell’s first experience in the Greenwood Exchange Club’s baseball program started in the 1970s.
The 59-year-old Greenville native moved to Greenwood at age 8 and soon began playing in the league. He later umpired as a teenager, and that led to a much more expanded role.
Campbell is the second-longest-tenured Greenwood Exchange member, behind James Jackson, with 32 years of service in October.
“It’s just a great way of giving back to the kids in this community because I know what this league meant to me as a kid,” he said. “I think it’s even more important the role our leagues play now in baseball and softball in this day and age. Kids need to have a reason to get outside with all the computer games and things like that.
“But one thing some people don’t think about is that playing youth baseball or softball exposes kids to other kids from different backgrounds that they might not normally get to know. That will help them down the road for sure.”
Campbell is quite proud of what all the club has accomplished through the years, especially the building of Stribling Park. He said the debt on the project has been paid off, with all current funds raised going to maintaining and improving the park.
“It’s pretty cool that our little ol’ group of about 25 to 30 was able to complete that project without any real help from the city,” Campbell said. “I look around out there now, and I see folks coaching their kids who I once coached out there.”
He has worked in the personal finance business in Greenwood since 1982 and is about to start his 20th year as a Leflore County Justice Court judge.
He has put in a ton of hours at Whittington Park, where the league started, and now at Stribling Park, when it opened in 2000.
After umpiring, Campbell moved into a commissioner’s role. He has since served four terms as president of the Greenwood Exchange Club and has also served as its treasurer and secretary.
His wife, Patti, has also had to lend a helping hand at times in the concession stand with her husband. The two met at Greenwood High School and will have been married 37 years next month. Both of their grown daughters played in the league for years.
“I can remember when we had to carry the concession trailer to Whittington Park just to have drinks and food for the folks in the park,” Campbell said. “I love that Patti never complained about pitching in. She just helped where she could.”
Although Campbell isn’t nearly as involved in supporting the leagues as he once was, he’s still helping where he can. Most of his time now is spent watching his grandson, Schaefer Hodges, in the coach-pitch baseball league at Stribling Park. But things have come full circle for him and Patti as they watch their grandson participate in something that has been a special part of their lives.
•Contact Bill Burrus at 581-7237 or email@example.com.