By Jacob Bembry
Greene Publishing, Inc.
J.A. Lane has a vision for what he wants the Tracy Stephens Recreation Park and J.A. Lane field to look like.
“We’re painting it black and gold,” he says as he points to the press box and the dugouts at the ballpark in Greenville. “We want it to look the way that it did when the high school played ball here.”
Memories of the Greenville High Pirates make Lane hearken to memories of yesteryear. Like many ballplayers, he can still remember the pride in donning the baseball uniform. He can also remember the smells associated with baseball; smells of hot dogs cooking, peanuts roasting, the smell of the leather baseball glove and the newly mown hay. Most of all, he remembers the action as he played left field for the Pirates.
J.A. Lane has been a man of action on many things over the years.
When the school decided to do away with baseball during his senior year, Lane organized a petition drive to bring it back. When Greenville youngsters needed something to do, Lane, along with several other Greenville citizens, formed a Little League, which was associated with Tallahassee in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Lane, along with Bobby Harper, Tracy Stephens, Leonard Bembry, Zeke Griffin, Abe Mills and others had to depend on their own abilities to raise funds to establish the first organized recreational baseball program in Greenville’s history. They were able to start a tee-ball league, a little league and a senior league. The league was affiliated with Tallahassee before joining the Babe Ruth League in 2000. The town’s recreation baseball league went independent in 2005 and have been ever since.
Because of the early efforts of Lane and men like him, Greenville youth still have a baseball program to day. Later on, the town was able to secure grant funds to build a baseball facility.
Because of Lane’s efforts, the Greenville Town Council voted to name the field for him. In addition, he has also been honored by the town by being asked to be the Grand Marshal in the Country Christmas parade.
J.A. Lane grew up in the Lovett area, northeast of Greenville. His parents were Julius Audley Lane and Carrie Elizabeth Lane. He was born Julius Audley Lane, Jr., on Sept. 16, 1943. His parents shortened the name to J.A.
Playing baseball under Coach Leon Suggs at Greenville High School, J.A. developed his love of the game and he didn’t let distance from the school separate him from playing either.
“I used to hitchhike to Greenville to play baseball,” he said.
After high school, Lane joined the Marine Reserves and went to work as a forklift operator at Georgia Pacific in Greenville.
J.A. is married to Janie Lane and has five sons, Greg Lane, Julius Lane, Chris O’Neal, Eddie Peters and Jody Scott.
J.A. is now semi-retired but keeps busy tending the grounds at the Recreation Park for the Town of Greenville.
When he has a little spare time, he enjoys riding horses and fishing.
J.A. still plays softball with Greenville’s co-ed recreation league, which he helped start. He pitches on his team, which recently won a benefit softball tournament.
J.A. shirks off any praise heaped on him by others, saying, “I don’t do much. I’m just trying to help the youth out.”
In the mean time, J.A. works on trying to get a youth football program started in Greenville and works on getting the ball field done in the style of the old Greenville High School Pirates and Greenville Middle School Indians.