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Five members of area teams inducted into Appalachian League Hall of Fame

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(WVVA) Five members of the Bluefield and Wytheville minor league teams were inducted into the Appalachian League Hall of Fame. George E. Manning, Bobby Grich, Lenny Johnston, Tony Oliva, and Jim Rantz are a part of the 2020 class.

Manning served as the Bluefield Baseball Club general manager for 37 years. Before the Orioles were in Bluefield, Manning served as GM for teams of the Red Sox and Braves organizations. He also helped sign Boog Powell to his first pro baseball contract.

Six time MLB all-star Booby Grich played for Bluefield in 1967. He won four gold gloves and the Silver Slugger award in 1981 in the American League. Grich played 2008 games. He is apart of the Orioles and Angles Hall of Fame.

Johnston manned the first base coaches box from 1984-2010 for the Bluefield Orioles. He is a member of the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame and received the Cal Ripken Sr. award for player development in 2007. Johnston worked in minor league baseball for 57 years and was responsible for organizing Bluefield's community service projects where players had to participate every day when the team was in town.

Oliva played for Wytheville in 1961 where he lead all organized baseball with a .410 batting average. He was promoted to the Minnesota Twins roster a year later and was inducted into the Twin's HOF in 2010. The eight time MLB all-star was also American League Rookie in 1964. He was also the only on-field player to appear in all three world series: as a player (1965), hitting coach (1987), and bench coach (1991).

Rantz was part of the Wytheville club in 1960. He would later become the Farm Director for the Minnesota Twins and Appy League Director from 1986-2012. During his time with the Twins organization, he helped develop players who won world series in 1987 and 1991. He is apart of the 2007 Hall of Fame class for the Minnesota Twins.

Others in the 2020 HOF class include: David Wright, David Justice, Dale Murphy and Scott Rolen.

Ashley Smith

Multimedia Journalist

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