THE FLATS – Georgia Tech baseball will honor former Yellow Jacket standout and Major League Baseball relief pitcher Jim Poole, who was diagnosed with ALS two years ago, by designating a student-athlete each year to wear his No. 21 jersey. The student-athlete selected must exemplify Poole’s characteristics both on and off the field.
This year, senior catcher Jack Rubenstein will wear No. 21, having shown a longstanding commitment to Poole’s ideals – self-determination, a strong academic work ethic, and high moral fiber on and off the field. Rubenstein is entering his second season as a leader of the Yellow Jackets after transferring from Emory. He is currently majoring in Georgia Tech’s real estate development master’s program.
Poole arrived on The Flats in 1985 and had an immediate impact, as Georgia Tech baseball would win the first of four-straight ACC Tournament Championships. During his four years, he pitched in 120 games and struck out 263 batters in 188 innings. He still ranks first in the Tech record book with 22 career saves, including 10 as a junior and nine as a senior. He was named all-ACC his last two seasons. Poole would be enshrined into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame just nine years later in 1997.
A stellar worker in the classroom, Poole elected not to turn professional after being selected in the 34th round of the 1987 MLB Draft by the LA Dodgers, and returned to Georgia Tech for his senior year, recording a 2.03 ERA and 113 strikeouts in only 71 innings. Once again, the LA Dodgers would call his name in the 1988 MLB Draft, this time taking him in the ninth round. He would return to graduate from the Institute with a degree in electrical engineering in 1990.
Poole played 11 years in the major leagues, predominantly with the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, and San Francisco Giants. In 431 games played, he finished with 22 victories and a 4.31 ERA, as well as 256 strikeouts and four saves. He helped pitch Cleveland to two American League Championship Series (1995, 1998), making it to the 1995 World Series where he would face the Atlanta Braves.
Following his retirement at the end of the 2000 season, Poole returned to Georgia Tech to join the Alexander-Tharpe Fund as a fundraiser and supporter of the baseball program. He then began serving as the pitching coach at Johns Creek High School in 2010, teaching many young men about pitching mechanics, while also conveying his personal pitching philosophy.
He later joined the business world as a Personal Wealth Advisor for the Baseball Division of BIP Wealth.
Every 90 minutes, someone is diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, with an estimated 30,000 people living with ALS in the United States at any given time. Primarily affecting people between the ages of 40 and 70, ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. There is no known cure.
For more information about ALS, visit www.ALS.org.
STATEMENTS FROM GEORGIA TECH ATHLETICS
Senior Georgia Tech catcher Jack Rubenstein:
“I’m humbled and honored to be selected to wear 21 to recognize Jim. Jim means a great deal to everyone associated with GT Baseball and he is a great example for everyone on how to play the game and how to live life. I’ll do everything I can to keep those values and honor him in this jersey.”
Georgia Tech head baseball coach Danny Hall:
“Jim Poole was the picture-perfect definition for the term ‘student-athlete.’ He achieved excellence on and off the field. He has approached his battle with ALS with the same competitive spirit that made him one of the very best to ever play on The Flats. It is an honor to recognize his jersey number for his competitive spirit and determination.”
The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Georgia Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of developing Georgia Tech’s Everyday Champions and helping the Yellow Jackets compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes. To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.