FROM THE MINOR LEAGUES TO THE LLWS
Last fall in his Winterville office at Albemarle Bank – a Little League World Series plaque on the table behind him – Brian Fields ’98 ’01 described the similarities between baseball and banking.
“There’s a lot of rejection. You’ve got to be persistent. You have to keep grinding. To be successful, everybody’s got to play their parts,” he said.
And as millions around the country saw last August, Fields, his fellow coaches and a group of 12-year-olds from around Greenville – including his own son Tanner – did just that, coming within a run of capturing the U.S. Little League championship and going on to play for the LLWS title.
Fields has been coaching youth baseball for nine years. For three years, he’s coached the group that went to this year’s LLWS. The first year, they were second in the state. The next, they won state and were second in the regionals.
“This year, as fate has it, we finished second in the United States,” he said.
A left-hander who could throw strikes, Fields started his college career at N.C. State. But when coach Ray Tanner left for South Carolina, ECU baseball coach Gary Overton convinced Fields to come to Greenville.
After a season with the Pirates, Fields was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1997 and played in the San Francisco Giants organization for two years. He had some success, but didn’t see himself advancing in the minor leagues, so he left professional baseball. He landed in the Wilmington area, playing extras in films that needed baseball players.
Then, he returned to ECU, earned his master’s in economics and is now a city executive with Albemarle Bank.
For now, though, he’s taking a break from coaching. He said it’s time for Tanner and his older son, Drew, to work with other coaches. But he might not be done.
“Now that I’ve been to Williamsport, I want to go back,” Fields said. “Now that I’ve gotten there, there’s that thing…I want another chance at it.”
And he’s aware of how his team captured the imaginations of people locally and farther away.
“It’s cool how the city and community … kind of embraced that team and it kind of pulled everybody together,” he said. “It’s cool those 12-year-olds can have that kind of impact.”