Every spring, a new group of sluggers age 7 and under takes the fields at Lakeshore and Sequoyah parks to play baseball. And for the past 40 years, even as the children have grown up, moved away and come back with their own kids, the man on the pitcher’s mound has been the same. Vance Link III, a volunteer with Knox Youth Sports, leads the Pee Wee (aka “Vance Pitch”) League, pitching, umpiring and teaching kids the finer points of baseball and team spirit.
At the May 28 meeting of the Knox County Commission, commissioners Larsen Jay and Hugh Nystrom introduced a resolution to honor Link for his 40 years of service to area youth.
“Vance Link is a great example of the true volunteer spirit,” said Jay before he read his and Nystrom’s proclamation.
Link began coaching with the Pee Wee League in 1978 but has been involved with baseball since his own childhood playing Little League in Sequoyah Hills under coach Lawrence House. Link was one of the original commissioners of Sequoyah Baseball, which became part of Knox Youth Sports. Link pitches more than 80 games a season and has thrown out hundreds of thousands of pitches.
Among those he has coached are UT baseball legend Todd Helton and former Gov. Bill Haslam (“a fairly light-hitting shortstop,” he told the commission).
“I know we would all much rather be at the ballpark than here,” Link said of himself and the group of uniformed players who had come to the meeting in his honor. “No offense to you folks.”
He thanked House, whom he called his mentor, and the staff of Knox Youth Sports.
“You do the things you do because you love what you do,” he added. “The joy of it is in working with children.”
In addition to the crowd of players, Link was joined by his wife, Robbie, and their son, J.V. Daughter Whitney was not able to attend.
Link is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and of Webb School, where he was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2016.