The 2018 Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame class includes All-Americans Steven Blackwood (baseball), two-time NBA champion and Olympic medalist Chris Bosh (basketball), veteran NFL defensive lineman Michael Johnson, Adriane Lapsley Butler (track and field), Kristi Miller-North (tennis) and Chan Song (golf), as well as longtime athletics fundraiser Jack Thompson.
Tickets are on sale for the annual Induction Dinner on Sept. 21 (reception at 6 p.m., dinner and program at 7 p.m.) at $125 each through Aug. 15, $150 after Aug. 15. They can be purchased online (click here), and questions about the dinner and tickets can be directed to Barb Dockweiler (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Alexander-Tharpe Fund.
By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word
Steven Blackwood last played baseball more than 12 years ago, and while he started his first job just a week ago, it’s quite likely that he’s been busier than every one of his former teammates since.
Just weeks before he is to be inducted in the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame, Dr. Blackwood began working as a foot and ankle specialist with Oxford Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Oxford, Miss., where his office works with the public and Ole Miss athletic programs.
He’s known for a long time that he wanted to be a doctor, and that was made clear when he returned to school after his junior season of 2005 even though the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the 26th round.
Blackwood had just earned first-team All-ACC honors after batting .336 with five home runs, 65 RBI and 61 runs scored.
The left-handed outfielder from Roswell was second-team All-ACC as a sophomore, batting .359 with four home runs, 66 RBI and 71 runs scored.
In 242 games with the Yellow Jackets from 2003-06, which remains tied for fourth-most played in program history, he put up big numbers with a career batting average of .326, 21 home runs, 221 RBI (fifth), 220 runs (fourth), 60 doubles (fifth) and a .423 on-base percentage.
As much as he loved the game – he still considers his former teammates to be “my fraternity” – school was more important, and that showed, too. On his way to graduating in 2007 with honors in biology, he earned multiple ACC academic honors and was an Academic All-America.
In 2006-07, after his athletic eligibility had expired, he worked in the athletic communications department and shadowed orthopaedic surgeons at Grady Hospital before four years of medical school at the former Medical College of Georgia. Also, in ’06 he was named Mr. Georgia Tech as part of homecoming.
In 2010, Blackwood and Sara Ballard, a former Tech diver he met as an undergraduate, were married. Together, they have two young children, William and Elizabeth, who were born while he did a five-year residency at Milwaukee’s Froedert Memorial Hospital in conjunction with the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Finally, following a one-year fellowship with the Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan in Grand Rapids that finished earlier this summer, he and his family moved to Oxford, where he began working Sept. 4.
He already seems to enjoy what he’s doing, yet Blackwood also loves to look back on his baseball career, during which he played on two ACC regular-season championship teams (2004, 2005), an ACC Tournament championship squad and played in the College World Series with the Yellow Jackets in 2006.
The Good Word: This sure looks like a big month for you and your family as you’re launching a career in medicine and being honored for your baseball career at Georgia Tech within weeks of each other. Is this a big deal?
Blackwood: “It’s more excitement than anything else, sharing with coaches and friends, teammates. It’s an individual honor to be inducted, but it took a lot of people’s support to reach this.
“It took a lot of sacrifice from my family. There was never a spring break vacation, or summer vacation, but that’s what it took to be a part of competitive teams to develop.”
TGW: How and why did you choose to attend Georgia Tech as an undergraduate?
Blackwood: “When I was being recruited, I had known coach Strick [former Tech assistant Scott Stricklin, now head coach at Georgia) for a long time, and I got to know coach (Danny) Hall, and I still remember sitting down and coach Hall extending an offer. Me and my family didn’t know if it was a take-it-or leave it …
“I looked around at some other places, and just felt like Georgia Tech was going to be the best opportunity for me to pursue professional baseball and a career.”
TGW: Can you give me a few of your favorite baseball memories?
Blackwood: “I think the year we won the ACC [tournament]. To beat three ranked opponents coming out of the loser’s bracket, that’s up there. Three games in a day. I don’t even think they do that anymore.
“The College World Series in 2006. The first game, I batted leadoff.
“Hitting a game-tying home run against UGA in Turner Field just because it was a home run in a major league stadium. It hit the leftfield foul pole. I didn’t realize it was a home run.”
TGW: How did you come to choose medicine rather than a possible career in professional baseball?
Blackwood: “My brother, Wes, is seven years older, and he is a practicing pediatric cardiologist in Macon. They have two kids, and they are in full swing.”
TGW: What is your role at Oxford Ortho?
Blackwood: “It’s going well. I already had two surgeries. I like it so far, and it’s nice meeting new people. It’s nice to be able to provide something. Orthopaedics has shifted from being I-take-care-of-everything . . . to where groups are becoming hyper specialized.
“I did an extra year of training in fellowship on foot and ankle after my residency. I didn’t want to just go out and do general, although I still take general calls. I have a clavicle call next week.
“My group is the official ortho providers for Ole Miss. Baseball will be one that I am covering, and I will be on the sidelines for majority of home games. I was on sidelines for the last home football game.”
TGW: How often do you make it back to Georgia Tech, and what kind of contact do you maintain with former teammates and coaches?
Blackwood: “I’ve stayed in touch, moreso with guys in the Atlanta area: Lee Hyde, Michael Fischer and Blake Wood. When some of the guys [who are in the Major Leagues] would come to Milwaukee [to play against the Brewers], I tried to see them, like [Nationals catcher] Matt Wieters.
“We try to get to one football game a year, although during the residency that was tough. And we try to come home for the holidays.
“When you’re in the middle of it, you don’t think about it, but what I think makes Georgia Tech unique for me is it provided the best opportunity athletically and academically to be a student-athlete and opportunities to shadow at a hospital, and the connections that you make are more beneficial.”