Lanier had long tradition of state championship success

sports@macon.comJuly 1, 2013 

Lanier High School, along with Boys High and Tech High of Atlanta, dominated high school athletics in Georgia between the 1920s and 1950s. Boys High and Tech High, located in the same building on Eighth Avenue in Atlanta, won nine and eight state football titles, respectively, between those years while Lanier captured four.

On numerous occasions, Lanier was the runner-up to one of those schools. Both Boys High and Tech High were done away with in 1947 when the Atlanta City High Schools were restructured and Lanier went by the board in 1970 as a result of integration.

While the Atlanta teams got the best of things in football, Lanier was by far the class in basketball. The Poets won 17 state crowns between 1922 and 1951, while Tech High took home state championships in 1926, 1929 and 1935. Boys High won just one, and that came in 1923. Eleven of the Lanier state championship teams were coached by Selby Buck, who also won four state football titles and two state baseball crowns during his illustrious career.

Baseball was not a popular high school sport during the aforementioned period and the GHSA didn’t sponsor a state tournament until the 1945-46 school year. At the time, it was an open affair taking in all classes, which at the time consisted of class A, B and C. Lanier won the state title that first year.

The last state championship for the Poets was also in baseball, and that came in 1965, its first in any sport since a track title in 1952, with the late Bobby Brown as their coach. Lanier rolled through the regular season with a 16-4 overall record and a 9-1 region record. In those region games, they gave up a total of just 13 runs while scoring 68. Art Dorminey was the ace of the pitching staff, compiling a 10-4 record while Chuck Ogburn was the team’s leading hitter with a .463 average in region games.

Lanier met Groves of Savannah in the best-of-three semifinals of the Class AAA playoffs. Dorminey was dominant in the first game at Luther Williams Field, limiting the Savannah school to three hits in a 1-0 win. He struck out four batters in the fourth inning due to a passed ball. Jimmy Dominey’s RBI single in the sixth accounted for the only run. Groves took the second game 6-1, forcing a deciding third game. Lanier trailed in that contest 3-1 in the top of the seventh but scored three times in that frame to come from behind for the win.

The victory put Lanier in the finals against Griffin, and they were drubbed 9-2 in the first game as Dorminey had his worst outing of the season, allowing seven walks while throwing four wild pitches. Lanier rebounded in the second game for a 10-5 win to even up the series, and then Dorminey, on just two days’ rest, pitched a gem as Lanier overcame a 2-0 deficit to win 4-2 and take the title. He went the distance, allowing just five hits with seven strikeouts and one walk. Ogburn, as he had all season long, led the Poets at the plate with two hits.

The championship game marked the final one for Brown as Lanier’s baseball coach. The next season, he moved to the new school in town, Mark Smith, and Godfrey “ Goot “ Steiner took over as the head baseball coach at Lanier.

In 1970, Lanier and the girls school Miller merged to become Central.

Bobby Pope is the executive director of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Email him at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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