First as a player and later as a coach, Huntsville native David Keel developed into one of the most well-known local baseball personalities of his generation over a period that extended more than three decades. A left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, Keel starred on two state championship teams before his 18th birthday, first in the Senior Babe Ruth League with the Northwest Huntsville All-Stars in 1989 and then in American Legion while playing for Post 237 in 1990, when he was named MVP in the state tournament. During the same time, Keel was also the MVP of the Lee High School baseball team. After being named to the All-City team three straight seasons from 1988-90 and honored as the citys MVP and picked on the All-State team as a senior, he signed a baseball scholarship with the University of Mississippi. Two years later, he transferred from Ole Miss to Motlow State College in Lynchburg, Tennessee, where he set a single-season record for runs batted in and was named to the Tennessee Junior College Athletic Associations All-Region team in 1992. Picked in the 23rd round of the 1992 amateur baseball draft by the Oakland Athletics, Keel played professional baseball for the Oakland organization for four years, one year of independent pro ball and two seasons in the New York Yankees organization. After playing for Modesto, California, in 1995, he returned to Huntsville in the off-season to help Bobby Pierce start the University of Alabama-Huntsville baseball program. Keel later served as UAHs head baseball coach in 2003-04. Just 29 at the time, he was the youngest head coach in the Gulf South Conference. During the nine years he was associated with UAH as a volunteer, an assistant coach and later as head coach, the Chargers were ranked in the top 10 nationally each season. They won the conference championship in 2001. Keel cited competing against great opponents as a major factor in his baseball success. The greatest of these, he said, were the Ivey brothers, Paul and Tony from Johnson High School. Every time you played against them, you knew you were in for a fight. Of my teammates, Mike Grider from Lee taught me about real toughness. Pat Sanders was another great teammate. We played together at Lee and later in the Oakland organization, batting No. 3 and No. 4 in the lineup. All my coaches meant a lot, of course. And my parents. Mom was always there, and Dad what can I say? Many times parents ask me what they can do for their kids to help them become better baseball players. I always say, Keep your mouth shut, and learn to throw batting practice. Then do that before and after every practice, on weekends, and in the off-season until youre medically unable to throw. Keel is now a strength coach and martial arts instructor in Huntsville, working with elite athletes and members of law enforcement and the military. He is married to the former Holly Swanner of Huntsville. They have two daughters, Elizabeth (13) and Mary (9).