On Dec. 31, John H. Moss will relinquish the title of South Atlantic League president after 50 years of service.
But retirement doesn’t mean he won’t remain active.
‘‘The next two or three years, I will be quite busy,’’ said Moss, who visited Golden Park and threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the South Atlantic League championship series. ‘‘I’m trying to get a South Atlantic League Hall of Fame going. I’ll visit all 16 ballparks on a farewell tour in 2008.’’
He’ll also be around to provide any advice that his successor, Eric Krupa, might want. Krupa will succeed Moss on Jan. 1, 2008, but won’t expect to make too many changes.
‘‘I’m going to do a lot of listening,’’ said Krupa, who also attended Thursday night’s game. ‘‘There’s nothing wrong with the league that needs to be fixed per se, so it’s a matter of listening and seeing where opportunities may come about.’’
Moss, the longest-tenured president in Minor League Baseball and the only president the South Atlantic League had ever known, received another tribute aside from the ceremonial first pitch. The Catfish acknowledged his 50 years of service by offering 50-cent soft drinks and popcorn.
While Moss took in Thursday night’s game, Catfish owner David Heller was not present. Heller recently declined to address the team’s future with the Ledger-Enquirer.
The Catfish’s Golden Park lease runs out in 2008. Art Solomon, the owner of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, has expressed interest in buying another minor league team and moving it to Bowling Green, Ky., for the 2009 season.
While an estimated crowd of 1,000 was on hand before the game was suspended for two hours by rain in the third inning, Moss said he’s confident minor league baseball can be a successful draw in Columbus.
‘‘I really believe this town can support a baseball team,’’ he said. ‘‘I believe they have the capability.’’
Columbus left fielder Ryan Royster easily exceeded most of the goals he set before the start of the regular season.
‘‘The goals I set weren’t anywhere near what I achieved,’’ said Royster, who finished the regular season with a team-leading .329 batting average, 30 homers and 98 RBI.
Before the year, he had set the more modest goal of batting between .280 and .300.
He entered Thursday night’s Game 3 against West Virginia simply hoping to make a difference in the South Atlantic League championship series. Royster said he’s still trying to regain momentum and rediscover his swing after a six-day rest before postseason play. He entered Thursday night’s game with a .071 average, no homers and one RBI in four postseason games.
‘‘I need some hits,’’ Royster said. ‘‘Those six days off before the playoffs kind of threw off that groove and rhythm I was in. I’m swinging at some bad pitches and I’m a little anxious. I want to be a part of this, but right now I can’t be that upset because my team is winning.’’
On the mend
A week ago, Columbus Catfish center fielder Desmond Jennings hobbled around on crutches after undergoing surgery to repair a part of his knee he’d never before heard of.
Dr. James Andrews, the renowned orthopedic surgeon, repaired Jennings’ lateral miniscus in Birmingham, Ala.
While Jennings has spent the last two weeks recovering and undergoing physical therapy, he didn’t want to miss seeing his teammates try to clinch the South Atlantic League championship Thursday night.
Jennings came to Golden Park, without the crutches.
‘‘It’s just fun to be back, hanging around with the guys and being a part of the team,’’ he said.
Jennings, who batted .315 with nine homers, 37 RBI and 45 stolen bases in 99 games, said the four- to six-week recovery window he’d been given has gone well so far. He said he hopes to recuperate well enough to participate in the fall instructional league.
‘‘It would be good to get some activity,’’ Jennings said.