Harrisonburg Turks

Member of the Valley Baseball League and NACSB.

  • 1955 VBL Champions
  • 1958 VBL Champions
  • 1959 VBL Champions
  • 1962 VBL Champions
  • 1964 VBL Champions
  • 1969 VBL Champions
  • 1970 VBL Champions
  • 1971 VBL Champions
  • 1977 VBL Champions
  • 1991 VBL Champions
  • 2000 VBL Champions
  • 2012 VBL Champions
  • 2023 VBL Champions

Kemp Swinging Hot Bat For Turks

6/25/04 – Daily News Record

By AARON GRAY Daily News-Record Nine days ago, Joe Kemp was in an Indiana University classroom taking a final exam in advanced sports conditioning. He kept his eye on the clock – he was excited. Following the exam, Kemp didn’t celebrate. He didn’t hit the beach with his friends. Instead, he hoped in his car and drove eight and a half hours straight to Harrisonburg, a city he had never been to before. "It’s a little more country than I used to," the 22-year-old said. "I guess I’m more comfortable in the big cities since I grew up in between DC and Baltimore." So for the first time in his life, Kemp, a native of Bowie, Md., will be the big fish in the little pond. But in the Friendly City, he’s not a total stranger. Four of his Hoosier teammates play for the Turks. "It’s definitely an advantage that we’re playing in the summer league together," said center fielder Reggie Watson, one of the four, all of whom share an apartment. In 54 games, Kemp batted .317 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs while playing right field for the Hoosiers. He finished third on the team in all three categories. Kemp was drafted in the 42nd round by the Texas Rangers, but has not signed and is leaning toward returning for his senior season. Turks manager Bob Wease built the Hoosiers-to-Harrisonburg pipeline this fall with Indiana coach Bob Morgan, who pitched for the Turks from 1968-69. "A lot of coaches will blow smoke at you about their players. Morgan is a good coach and I can trust him," Wease said. "All four of these guys can play." Kemp’s arrival couldn’t have come at a better time. After winning six of their first seven games, the Turks were struggling when Kemp arrived. Harrisonburg was in the middle of a four-game skid and in need of some offense when Kemp joined the lineup on June 17. As a team, they had hit only one home run all season. Kemp already has two. "I didn’t really play competitive baseball for about a month," said Kemp, who started his summer course a week after Indiana’s regular season ended. "I thought I would get here, sit a couple games and slowly work my way in." Kemp wasn’t in town longer than 24 hours before he found himself batting in the clean-up role and playing first base for the Turks. "Joe is a great power hitter," Morgan said. "So when he took that time off, he got a chance to recharge his battery." The break has proved beneficial for 6-foot-1, 195-pounder. He leads the Turks with a gaudy .444 batting average. In only six games, Kemp already leads the team in home runs, doubles (4) and total bases (22). "Just from watching him during batting practice, it’s obvious that Joe is more than just a home run hitter," catcher Matt Sluder, from James Madison, said. "He’s a good gap-to-gap hitter and won’t strike out all the time." Kemp has tallied a .815 slugging percentage while striking out only twice in 27 plate appearances. His walk-off home run in the 6-5 victory over Winchester on Monday solidified Kemp’s role with the Turks – a role Wease dubbed the team’s "big-time player." Still, the Turks, who were 8-7 heading into Thursday’s game at Loudoun, are just 2-4 since he joined them. Wease hopes that will soon change. He even described Kemp as "the best hitter in the Valley League." But the sudden hype hasn’t gone to his head. "That’s baseball for you," Kemp said. "One day, you’ll have nothing. The next night, you can come back and be the hero. I’ve studied this game my whole life and nothing is for certain." In recent years, Kemp’s uncertainties in life have followed him onto the diamond. He didn’t play two years ago because he was coping with the death of his mother. Kemp then sat out all of 2003 due to reconstructive surgery on his left elbow. "The summers have been tough for me recently," said Kemp. "So now it’s time to turn it all around." And maybe turn around the slumping Turks, too. ****************** Friday, June 25 BASEBALL VBL New Market at Harrisonburg, 7:30 p.m. Waynesboro at Woodstock, 7:30 p.m. Front Royal at Winchester, 7:30 p.m. Staunton at Loudoun, 7:30 p.m. Covington at Luray, 7:30 p.m. ****************** Thursday’s Results BASEBALL VBL Loudoun 6, Harrisonburg 1 Front Royal 9, Covington 5 Waynesboro 7, Winchester 4 Staunton 7, Woodstock 4 New Market 7, Luray 4