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Former Deerfield baseball star Fordham, 31, dies in Fla. house fire

ALBANY — Christopher Mark Fordham, who pitched at Deerfield-Windsor and led the Knights to the GISA Class AAA state title, died Jan. 15 at his home in Jacksonvile, Fla., where he was a victim of smoke inhalation from a house fire. He was 31.

Fordham wasn’t only a dominant force on the mound at Deerfield Windsor, but he was a kid everybody remembered as a wonderful teammate.

“He was a happy-go-lucky guy who kept everybody loose,’’ said longtime DWS athletic director Gordy Gruhl, who remembered Fordham well. “He was a lot of fun to be around, but once he got on the mound he was a fierce competitor. He pitched on the ‘98 team that won the state championship and then played at the University of Georgia.’’

Fordham was an all-region and all-state player at Deerfield and pitched and won the 1998 state title game. He was named to the South Georgia All-Star team, which consisted of players from all classifications, and was recognized nationally as a member of the Ohio Warhawks, a powerhouse traveling team that was made up of top players from around the country. Fordham was inducted into the Warhawks Hall of Fame, and earned a baseball scholarship to Georgia.

He also excelled in swimming, basketball, track and he competed in triathlons. But his first love was always baseball. Fordham was a star in the Dixie Youth Baseball League growing up, starting at the age of five. He was a Dixie League All-Star six straight years, and five of his All-Star teams won the state title.

“He was a great kid,’’ Gruhl said. “It’s a real tragedy.’’