Gary Hargis, a very successful Georgia businessman, began sponsoring a big-time men's team in 1981 and in his first year, the team led by Ricky Huggins, Paul Wright, Cecil Whitehead, Clyde Zachery and Ed Jones captured the ASA Men's Major Championship, defeating Fred Weber Merchants in the Finals, the first year that the ASA created a Super Division. The next year, Elite moved into the ASA Super Division and the NSPC, adding Mike Nye and other star players but they didn't quite catch the big 3 of Howard's, Jerry's and Ken Sanders.
The following year, after Ken Sanders disbanded his team, Elite picked up Craig Elliott, Charles Wright, Bill Pollock and Ronnie Ford and added Bill Gatti and Fred Trice to an already loaded line-up. They finished 2nd to Howard's in the ASA Super Division Championship and 4th in the USSSA Major Championship.
In 1984, Elite added Dennis Graser and Rick Weiterman along with some additional firepower and finished 2nd to Howard's in the ISA Championship, 3rd in the ASA Super Division and captured the USSSA Major World Series, led by Elliott who was MVP, Huggins, Pollock, Graser, Ford and Charles Wright. In 1985, Elite again was runner-up to Howard's in the ISA Championship, having added Bruce Meade and Doug Brown from Jerry's. Elite also was runner-up to Steele's in the ASA Super Championship that year but captured its second consecutive USSSA World Series in its final tournament, defeating Capitol Insulation. Rick Wheeler was MVP.
Elite disbanded after that championship.
Some Big Cat history. In 1984 I was terminated from the Steele's Sports Company after our first tournament of the year in Spartansburg, South Carolina. After the weekend when I went to work at Steele's I was told that I was no longer part of the team by Coach Neale..... I was fired! So I said ok and walked out. The first thing I did was call Craig Elliott and asked him if his team could use a second baseman? Craig said let me check with Gary Hargis and I will get back to you. I got a call later that day and he said that Gary could use me.
Next thing I know I am on a plane to Macon, Georgia to play with the Elite Coatings softball team. I was picked up at the Airport by none other than Charles Wright. So I get to hang with Charles for the weekend and we had a great weekend of softball. It was kind of funny but I was really excited about playing with Craig and the boys.... So they batted me 10th in the line up and we have a good weekend at the plate.. We played some of the games in the Macon Minor league Baseball Stadium and then we played the last two games on the 300 foot softball field.
Because of such a powerful team all I had to do was play... And play I did.. I was the Home Run Champ and MVP for the tournament... It really was a very good weekend... Now it is time for me to go back home to Cleveland... Craig Elliott tells me I should stay.. I said I can't stay, I have to go back. He tells Gary Hargis don't let me go back. If we do we won't see him again... Craig was right! I went back home on the plane to Cleveland and who is waiting for me at the Airport. Mighty Joe. So I go back to Cleveland and play with Mr. Neale.
Jerome made his way over to Elite Coatings in Gordon, GA and did the "Softball Insight" magazine for Gary Hargis of Elite in 1984 and 1985. Jerome was also very fond of Gary Hargis... "He was very generous Jerome said of Gary." Gary had another Elite team in 1985