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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Mar 13, 2017
Nestled in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains, Piedmont College is a small, private liberal arts college located in Demorest, Georgia. The school was founded in 1897, and is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the Congregational Christian Church denominations. Its 2,300 students primarily are enrolled in the Schools of Business, Education and Nursing.
The Lions compete at the Division III level of the NCAA and are members of the USA South Atlantic Conference. Other members of this conference include LaGrange College, Maryville College, Covenant College and Methodist University. The team plays its games at Loudermilk Field on the beautiful Piedmont College campus. The field is named to honor the family of Charlie Loudermilk, a Piedmont alumnus and former Lions baseball player, who donated the funds necessary to build the athletic complex. The facility opened in 2005 and has seating for 600-plus fans in its covered bleachers. Loudermilk Field led Division III in baseball attendance for the entire country in both 2005 and 2011.
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Loudermilk Field features a well-stocked concession stand, offering a variety of foods at very reasonable prices. A sampling of items available and their prices includes: hot dogs ($2), pickles ($1), potato chips ($1), Coca-Cola beverages ($2), bottled water ($2) and assorted candies ($1.50).
Baseball and Piedmont College share a long tradition of excellence for more than 75 years. The school was put on the baseball map thanks to Demorest resident and Lions baseball first baseman Johnny "Big Cat" Mize. Mize earned the nickname due to his hitting prowess and his catlike ability to scoop up any ball that came his way. The baseball Hall of Famer spent 15 years in the big leagues, and would have had an even longer career, as he served in World War II for three years during the prime years of his playing career. Mize played for the St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Giants and the New York Yankees. His Yankee years were his most productive, as he led the Bronx Bombers to five straight World Series championships from 1949 through 1953. He finished his career with 359 home runs. In recognition of his accomplishments, Piedmont College has honored him by naming its athletic center for him, and it also houses the Johnny Mize Baseball Museum on campus.
Mr. Loudermilk expressed a desire that the new baseball facility honor the classic baseball fields of the past, and Loudermilk Field accomplishes just that. Its seating section can hold more than 600 spectators and is completely covered by a roof, which protects the fans from both the sun and the colder elements that occur early in the season at this mountain campus. The bleachers feature very comfortable chairback seats. Also included in the grandstand area are a press box and the concession stand. The complex also has an indoor practice facility off the left field line. Braves baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, a friend of Mr. Loudermilk, was on hand to throw out the first pitch at the stadium dedication.
Piedmont College is the primary reason for Demorest, Georgia's existence, as the town's population is only 1,465 residents. A majority of the residents either work for the college or are involved in businesses and programs that serve the needs of the college and its students. There are two restaurants located in town, Chicago Pizza and Sweet Breads Southern Cooking. There are no lodging establishments in Demorest. The college and the town do put on a bluegrass festival each spring at the Arrendale Amphitheater on campus.
Cornelia is the county seat of Habersham County and is located just four miles south of Demorest. It has much more to offer in the way of dining options and lodging choices. Fender's Diner is an overwhelming favorite of the locals, with both the Midtown Grill and Harvest Habersham also receiving lots of positive ratings. Hotels in Cornelia include Days Inn, Baymont Inn and Suites and the Appletree Inn.
The fan base for the Lions is primarily made up of students from the college and residents of Demorest and the surrounding area. Due to the small student body and the tiny population of Demorest, it is a situation where everyone knows the players on a first name basis. On a game day, the stands fill early and spill over to the hill overlooking the first baseline, providing a great vantage point to see all the action. There are several conference schools in close proximity of Piedmont College and they tend to travel well, especially for weekend series.
Demorest is located approximately 72 miles northeast of Atlanta in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. It can be reached via I-985 and Highway 365 North. You would take the Ga. Highway 105/ US-411 Business exit, which is marked as the Clarkesville/Demorest/Helen exit. You would then head west for three miles until you see a sign indicating the Johnny Mize Athletic Center and Museum. Take a right on this road, and it will lead you directly to Loudermilk Field. There is plenty of parking available at the Student Commons building, which is free of charge. Loudermilk Field is fully accessible to persons with mobility issues. The concourse is quite wide and all seats are covered by a roof-like structure to protect you from the elements.
A trip over to Demorest for a Lions game is a very pleasant way to spend a spring afternoon. Before the game, drop by the Mize Athletic Center and enjoy the rather extensive Johnny Mize Museum at no charge. There is no charge for parking or to attend the game. Concession prices are very reasonable, and you will be able to enjoy some lovely mountain scenery during the game.
The Johnny Mize Baseball Museum is a must-see when you are in town to see a Lions game.
Piedmont College and Loudermilk Field hosted the Division III Southern Regional completion in 2014.
There are two North Georgia attractions located close to Demorest you might want to check out. The first are the beautiful Tallulah Falls, which are only 10 miles from the campus. The second is the Alpine town of Helen, which is located 20 miles from Demorest. The town has a Bavarian theme and offers a wide variety of restaurants and shops with a decidedly German twist.
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579 Georgia St
Demorest, GA 30535
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109 S Main St
Cornelia, GA 30531