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Monday, August 24, 2009

The End of an Era in SWVA Baseball

Mack Shupe is hanging up his cleats. Shupe was coaching at JJ Kelly when I was in school. He took over a team that wore T-shirts in games and propelled them to heights that will never be matched.

Mack Shupe, after spending 40 years in the dugout, will tender his resignation Monday morning as J.I. Burton’s baseball coach.

Shupe, whose illustrious career includes eight VHSL championships, produced a 631-173 win-loss record at J.J. Kelly and Burton.

“It’s time to go here,’’ Shupe said Sunday. “I think I’ve accomplished everything you could at the high school level.

“I’d never rule out anything but I won’t be coaching again where there isn’t a total commitment to the baseball program. Of course, that would mean having a first-class facility. This is the 21st century.’’

Shupe spent 33 years at JJ Kelly. The stats:

He took over a program at Kelly when its players were wearing T-shirts instead of standard uniforms.

Shupe led a campaign to build a stadium that today bears his name. He took his teams to the state championship game in four different decades.

He guided Kelly to an unprecedented four straight state titles — in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984, all unbeaten seasons. The Indians went 19-0, 21-0, 22-0 and 21-0.

Under his direction, Kelly also ruled Virginia’s Group A diamonds in 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1998.

His Indians won 22 Lonesome Pine District championships and 18 Region D titles and were state runners-up three times.

The VHSL Hall of Famer developed six professional players and had dozens of others go on to compete at the college level.

“I had 33 enjoyable years at Kelly,’’ Shupe said. “We had a good run there.’’

His Kelly teams won 546 games while losing only 173.

He will be missed. I want to thank Bill Lane for writing the article so eloquently. he finishes this must read for Va baseball fans with:

"Thus, an era in Southwest Virginia athletics that isn’t likely to be repeated closes as the scoreboard lights on Shupe’s remarkable career are turned off."


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