James Aaron Hemric
James Aaron Hemric
Year Inducted: 2016
James "Jim" Aaron Hemric was born in Wilkes County on September 27, 1935, in the Rachel community (which is now known as Shepherds Crossroads). He was the first of seven children born to Archie and Gertie Sparks Hemric. Jim has lived in eastern Wilkes County his entire life, except for a brief period he spent in Yadkin County as a small child. He was raised on what is now known as Macedonia Church Road.
Jim has been a lifelong member of Little Elkin Baptist Church in Ronda, where he faithfully serves as deacon, choir director and Sunday school teacher. He has also served on the church nominating committee, was a featured soloist, sang in a gospel quartet for many years, and visits the elderly and infirm. He volunteers with the Maple Springs UMC Food Pantry and has held the office of treasurer during his 25 years of service with Gideon’s International Elkin Camp.
He married the love of his life, Edith Hayes, on December 1, 1956. They have three living children, five grandchildren and will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this year.
Jim attended Ronda High School and graduated in 1954. This school was located where East Wilkes High School is currently. He was a standout baseball pitcher in high school and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals organization upon his graduation.
Jim pitched eight seasons for various teams within the Cardinals organization. He played with the Johnson City Cardinals from 1954-55 where he threw a no-hitter in a playoff game; he then played for the Ardmore Cardinals in 1956, and the Yakima Bears in 1957 where he set the league strikeout record of 19 in one game. While in Yakima, he also participated in baseball clinics with an attendance of 1,200 youth. He moved on to the Sioux City Soos for the 1957-58 seasons, he played for the Omaha Cardinals in 1959 and the Tulsa Oilers and Winston-Salem Red Birds in 1960. During the summer he was in Winston-Salem, the organization declared Wilkes County Night and Buster Bush arranged for 200 Little League players from Wilkes County to go and see their “hometown hero.” Jim ended his career with the Charlotte Hornets in 1961.
From the summer of 1962 through the end of summer 1983, Jim coached and taught the game of baseball to countless youth in Wilkes and surrounding counties. He formed and coached a semi-pro baseball team in 1962, a Pony League team from 1973-76, going on to win the season championship for three consecutive years. He also formed a Senior Babe Ruth League team for youth 16-18 years of age (winning the NC state tournament in 1983).The team went on to represent North Carolina in the regional tournament in Gadsden, AL.
During Jim’s 21-year coaching career he mentored young men as he led by example, while striving to instill team values in each of his players. Those values included demonstrating good sportsmanship on and off the field of play and teaching baseball fundamentals. He prepared many of his players to play at the next level and helped them in making contacts with college coaches and professional baseball scouts. Several of the young men played college baseball, while three of his players signed professional baseball contracts.
Jim Hemric has touched the lives of many young men, as well as their families, in Wilkes, Surry, Yadkin and Alleghany Counties, through his commitment to the game of baseball. While still working full-time at Chatham Manufacturing Company, he would leave the job at the end of a day, go home to grab a quick bite to eat and change clothes, then head to the ball field for 2-3 hours of practice.