NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When Vanderbilt takes the diamond on Sunday, November 13, at Hawkins Field, the memory of the late David Williams will be at the forefront of the day’s festivities.
Head coach Tim Corbin and Vandy baseball program announced today that the team’s Black and Gold Fall World Series will be officially named the David Williams Fall Classic on an annual basis.
“We wanted to make sure that we had the ability to celebrate David and his family on a yearly basis,” Corbin said of the tribute to David Williams. “Our baseball tradition is synonymous with his presence.”
Vanderbilt had previously named its 2019 fall baseball exhibition against Michigan at Hawkins Field the David Williams Fall Classic. But the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t allow for a fall baseball event in 2020 and, then in 2021, the Commodores played their fall ball in North Carolina.
The annual intrasquad scrimmage allows Vanderbilt the opportunity to honor Williams, the late Vanderbilt vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletics director who became a dear friend of Corbin and his family.
“We wanted this to be a consistent event and happening,” Corbin said. “For me it’s personal because of my relationship with David and (wife) Gail (Williams) and the kids. As our careers grew, we grew together and he became a mentor.”
“Our relationship grew through the years and his fondness for baseball, I think, also grew because of that.”
The David Williams Fall Classic is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 13, at 1 p.m., with free admission for all fans. The Commodores will wear uniforms branded with Stars across the front—an ode to the Detroit Stars and Nashville Stars, two Negro League Baseball teams tying together Williams’ lifelong work of promoting diversity and inclusion inside the sport as well as his native Detroit, Michigan, and residency in Nashville.
“I love Tim and Maggie (Corbin) and they’re like family,” Gail Williams said. “Dave and Tim had a great, great working relationship and it just grew into something bigger, so I’m honored for Tim to think of Dave this way and to honor him.
“It also being about the Negro League and to have respected Dave’s passion for the role the Negro League played in baseball and why that history was so important was so important for the Vanderbilt baseball team—for Tim to have embraced it and learn so much from Dave and the history of the Negro League, I think it’s just an honor. It’s just an honor that he would think so much about Dave to do something like that.”
Vandy opened fall training on Tuesday and full-squad training sessions will be open to the public at Hawkins Field. Fans will then get a good look at the Dores on Sunday while the team pays homage to Williams and his family.
“The Black and Gold Series is an every year event—we wanted to make it special and reconnect with David’s legacy and celebrate his family (Williams) on a yearly basis,” Corbin said. “David was a sports fan period. Once his position in athletics grew, he got to know our kids and our program. His fondness for our program accelerated, which I was always grateful for. He was so proud of our program and what it stood for in the university and community setting.”
Added Gail Williams: “(Dave’s) commitment to seeing excellence and his commitment to things growing into what they should be was the work that he put in, and to have a partner in that with Tim Corbin, it doesn’t get any better than that. Two men who who were so committed to the student-athlete experience and at the same time aspiring for the highest level of competition that you can do. They were able to collectively to balance those two very extraordinary opportunities for young people.
“That Tim would do this and continue to grow and to sustain Dave’s legacy mean’s absolutely everything to our family.”
— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com.
Follow him @MrChadBishop.