TIFTON—Tom Moody, a former baseball and golf coach at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, passed away on Nov. 9 at the age of 82. Perry Funeral Chapel in Ashburn is in charge of the arrangements.
Moody was the ABAC baseball coach for 24 years, winning state tournament titles in 1975 and 1986. He took the reins of the Golden Stallions on the golf course from 1992 through 1995, and ABAC won the state championship each of those years, earning Moody four consecutive State Coach of the Year honors. ABAC finished eighth in the 1994 national golf tournament. Moody was selected for the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.
Moody was the ABAC coach when Boo Weekley was a golfer for the Golden Stallions in 1993. After turning pro in 1997, Weekley became a member of the Professional Golfers Association, winning three PGA tournaments and collecting over $15 million in winnings during his career.
“His mom said they had heard about ABAC, and she wanted Boo to play golf here,” Moody remembered with a chuckle in a 2016 interview. “She said he liked hunting and fishing a lot.
“Boo only played one year for us, but I could tell that he had a real good swing. It was simple and not complicated. He hit the ball solid. It wasn’t anything I did to help him. He just kept getting better.”
Moody graduated from Dixie High School in 1956 before the tiny school consolidated with Brooks County High School. He and his high school buddy, Philip Simpson, came to ABAC where Simpson was a standout basketball player, and Moody played basketball and baseball, excelling on the diamond with a .286 batting average during his sophomore year. Simpson was inducted into the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
The Stallions made the state tournament both years that Moody played second base for ABAC. He then attended Georgia Southern College on a baseball scholarship where he led the Eagles with a .377 batting average during his senior season and helped to catapult the team to a berth in the national championship game where they lost to Whitworth College and future St. Louis Cardinals’ ace Ray Washburn.
Moody returned to South Georgia after his graduation from Georgia Southern to coach and teach at Valdosta Junior High School. In the summer of 1967, ABAC Athletics Director Benny Dees invited him to return to ABAC as the head baseball coach.
“We practiced on a field where the big South parking lot is now,” Moody said in 2016. “We played our games at Eve Park.”
ABAC recruited the National Guard to help build a baseball field and tennis courts during Moody’s tenure. Stallion Field is now a showplace on the banks of Lake Baldwin and a beautiful view for all the students who live in the nearby ABAC Place apartments.
Moody’s 1975 Stallions won the state baseball tournament championship before falling to Middle Georgia in the regional tournament. ABAC recorded a 29-14 overall record. Pitcher Hodges McLendon from Dawson made the Sports Illustrated “Faces in the Crowd” section by pitching no-hitters in his second and third starts of the 1975 season.
ABAC won the state tournament title again in 1986 on the most incredible play of Moody’s tenure on the diamond. The Stallions piled up six runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a 9-8 lead over number one-ranked Middle Georgia. In the bottom of the ninth, a Middle Georgia pinch hitter hit a two-run homer to apparently win the game.
“He was so excited that between third base and home plate, he passed the base runner,” Moody said in 2016. “I didn’t see it because I had gone to the mound to console my pitcher. Fortunately, the umpires had the courage to call it, and they did. It is hard to describe how I felt. I could not believe it. We had a good team that year.”
The Stallions wound up with a final record of 31-16 after finishing second behind Brevard in the Southeast Regional tournament. Moody stepped down from his baseball coaching position after the 1991 season and took over as the ABAC golf coach for the next four years before retiring in 1996.
“ABAC was a good place for me and my family,” Moody said in 2016. “It was just a good fit.”