Medlock Park and baseball help bond Decatur community

Four generations of Medlocks sat a picnic table celebrating the evolution of the park that bears their name.

Hundreds of residents joined the Medlocks on April 13 at Medlock Park in Decatur to recognize the 50th anniversary of the park and of the Druid Hills Youth Sports association, which began in 1962 as Briarcliff Community Sports.

The event, which also served as the opening ceremony for the association’s youth baseball season, brought out past presidents, players and coaches as well as more than a dozen members of the Medlock family.

“What you have done to honor my great-grandfather is tremendous,” Wade Medlock told the crowd. “It honors us greatly by inviting us to this event.”

Wade Medlock is the nephew of 87-year-old Decatur resident Thomas Medlock, the only living great-grandson of William Parks “Buck” Medlock, who purchased in 1882 the land that is now the park.

“This was Peachtree Creek bottomland. It used to be all orchards and farmland,” Wade Medlock said.

Much of the area around the park has ties to the Medlock family. Willivee Drive, which runs adjacent to the park, is named for Buck’s first daughter William Vilenah, known as “Miss Willie.” Also, Buck’s first wife was a member of the family that provided nearby Mason Mill Park and the family of his second wife, Susan Kittredge, provided the land for Kittredge Park.

Medlock Park was built in February 1960 and was originally used for baseball, football and softball. There is no longer a youth football league in the park, but baseball and softball still thrive.

Briarcliff Community Sports formed in 1962, and Druid Hills Youth Sports formed in 1990 when BCS merged with North Decatur Youth Sports.

Ron Blomberg, who played at BCS in the 1960s, is the group’s most famous alumnus. Blomberg went on to play for the New York Yankees.

“He came to a couple of the opening day events that we had,” said Phil Murff, who served as president of BCS in 1988-89.

Luis Planas, who began his association with BCS as a coach in 1982, became its president from 1984-85.

“Back then there were a lot of well-known families who participated,” Planas said. “The Maloofs and the McDevitts all started here. There was a tremendous amount of pride among all the families who belonged to the organization.”

Planas said he particularly remembers the camaraderie between the presidents of the association.

“Many of the past presidents offered to come out and help any way they could,” Planas said. “I thought it was special that they felt so tied in to Briarcliff Community Sports. My circle of friends I have today are friends I met at the ballpark 30 years ago.”

The importance of those who helped build the program into what it is now is noticeable around Medlock Park. Jim McAulliffe, who was association president in 1993, remembers the effect the umpires had on the league.

One of the baseball fields is named for Jim “Big Pop” Cobb, a former umpire who attended the ceremony. There also is a memorial for former umpire Hank Burdette.

“They worked very hard at helping the kids,” McAuliffe said. “They took time to teach them about baseball and they were friends to the kids.”

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