Baker, Cheatam honored for coaching
Published 8:41 am Wednesday, March 19, 2008
By By Adam Robinson – sports editor
Alan Baker was named to the Alabama High School Athletic Association's Hall of Fame Monday night, but the former T.R. Miller track and football coach gave credit to the coaches and players he has worked with over the years.
Baker, currently state representative from Brewton, became one of the 231 members - and nine new members - of the AHSAA Hall of Fame Monday night in Montgomery.
More than 600 family members, friends and supporters attended the banquet and induction ceremony at the Renaissance Hotel and Spa at the Montgomery Convention Center.
The 17-member Hall of Fame Committee made the selections from the 53 nominations to the Hall of Fame. Selected along with Baker were Brewton native Michael Cheatham, Don Cox, Greg Echols, James Findley, Rickey Johnson, Bob Pannone, Tammy Richardson and Dale Welsh.
While at T.R. Miller, Baker was the Tiger's track coach from 1984-2005 and was assistant football coach from 1984-2004 and defensive coordinator from 1989-2004.
Baker's track program won the state outdoor track championships in 1991, 1992, 2003 and 2004 and was runner-up in 1993, 1994 and 1996. The program was the indoor crown in 1992 and was runner-up in 1991. The boys won 13 sectional titles, including seven in a row from 1994-2000 and the girls won sectionals twice in 2003 and 2004.
While coaching football, the Tigers won five state championships and finished second five times including undefeated seasons in 1991 and 1994.
The Tigers were the winningest team in the state from 1990-1999 with 117 wins.
In attendance for Baker at the banquet were several people from the Brewton area along with wife, Kaki, family members, former coaches and current coaches, administration and friends.
Current T.R. Miller principal and sports hall of fame committee member Donnie Rotch also attended the banquet.
A native of Brewton, Baker graduated from T.R. Miller in 1974 and from Auburn University in 1978.
Baker's first job out of college was as a teacher, football coach and athletic director at South Girard Junior High School in Phenix City. After eight years there he went to Earnest Ward for four years and returned to Brewton in 1984.
Baker coached on the T.R. Miller class 4A state championship team that defeated Cherokee County 20-18.
In 1989, current head coach Jamie Riggs was hired at T.R. Miller as head coach and made Baker defensive coordinator.
Baker first coached the track team at Miller in 1985, and he helped improve the track facilities and put T.R. Miller track on the map.
Brewton native Michael Cheatham was also inducted into the Hall of Fame and was represented by his daughter Ernestine Carr of Miami.
Cheatham was instrumental is coaching the Conecuh County Training School to four AIAA state basketball championships in 1952, 1954, 1956 and 1957. Cheatham also coached football at the school.
Cheatham, who graduated from Southern Normal High School and Alabama State University, died on July 7, 1986.