7th Inning Stretch Festival headliner comes full circle

7th Inning Stretch Festival headliner comes full circle

When country music’s Chris Lane appears at the 7th Inning Stretch Festival on the eve of the 2023 American Legion World Series on Aug. 9, Shelby, N.C., will not only be welcoming a former American Legion Baseball player but a popular musician with local ties.

Chris Lane and his twin brother, Cory, were former Kernersville, N.C., Post 36 standouts who played collegiately for the Charlotte 49ers alongside former Shelby Post 82 standout Adam Floyd.

“I grew up going to Legion games as a kid and couldn’t wait to get to high school so I could be on the team,” Chris Lane said. “Some of my favorite memories of my life were made playing for Post 36. We had a heck of a team for those two years I played and count it a blessing I was a small part of representing Kernersville Legion.

“I was blessed to play for some great coaches and incredibly talented players and made lifelong friendships along the way.”

Chris Lane played outfield and shortstop and Cory Lane second base for Kernersville. Both were 2003 graduates of Glenn High School and longtime Post 36 head coach Chad Loflin was an assistant coach when the twins helped Kernersville resume its program in 2002 and 2003 after two years without a team.

In 2002, Kernersville advanced to the North Carolina Area III semifinals against South Rowan. Even in a 3-2 series defeat, the Lanes had starring roles as Chris Lane had two doubles and two triples in an 8-7, 10-inning opening game victory and Cory Lane had a home run in an 11-7 loss in the decisive fifth game. Both brothers had at least one hit in all five games of the series.

“They were two of the fastest kids I’ve ever coached,” said Loflin, who guided Post 36 to 2010 Area III, North Carolina and Southeast Regional titles before finishing fifth in that year’s ALWS in Spokane, Wash. “They would’ve played further if Chris didn’t have to have two knee surgeries.

“Cory was the best infielder I’ve ever coached. I think the (Cincinnati) Reds would’ve drafted him but you know how connected twins are and he told them he wouldn’t go pro unless his brother could go with him.”

After their final American Legion Baseball games, Chris and Cory Lane moved on to have impressive careers playing for the Charlotte 49ers from 2004 to 2007. And for their first three seasons, they played alongside 2002 Burns High graduate Adam Floyd, who played on Shelby Post 82’s 2001 N.C. state championship team and its 2002 Southeast Regional runner-up team.

Floyd played middle infield with Cory Lane while Chris Lane played outfield for the 49ers.

Cory Lane finished his career as Charlotte’s all-time career leader in triples (30) and among the top 10 in career hits (269), career runs (197), career total bases (419), career sacrifice bunts (21), career sacrifice flies (14), career games (216) and career starts (206). Chris Lane, whose injuries limited him to 172 games, finished his career ranked first all-time in career sacrifice bunts (41).

“Playing with them was really cool,” Floyd said. “On the road, we always went out with them and their families to eat dinner. So our families got to know each other.

“They were really good baseball players. Chris had those knee injuries — one in high school and one at Charlotte.”

Loflin, who is a family friend of Lane’s bass player, Brandon Matthews, knew nothing of the Lanes’ interest in music until the twin brothers auditioned for “American Idol” in 2008.

While the Lanes didn’t make it to the show’s finals in Hollywood, they soon were signed to a contract after one of their mixtapes was given to a music producer and the Chris Lane Band’s first album was released in 2012.

Chris Lane embarked on a solo career in 2014, with seven singles hitting the charts.

“His coming to the 7th Inning Stretch is really a full circle moment for me,” said Floyd.

“You know, you grow up and do this really cool thing by playing Division I baseball with these guys and you become friends. And then, all of a sudden, you’re living your life like I am as a teacher and these guys are all over the radio and are super famous.

“Now they’re coming back to your hometown as stars.”

American Legion Baseball

American Legion Baseball

American Legion Baseball enjoys a reputation as one of the most successful and tradition-rich amateur athletic leagues. Today, the program registers more than 5,400 teams in all 50 states, including Canada and Puerto Rico.

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