Aug. 18, 2015
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
Tyler Greene never imagined he’d continue the Georgia Tech Baseball tradition of producing great shortstops, never mind be inducted into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame. He admittedly knew little about Georgia Tech tradition growing up in Plantation, Fla., until actually being recruited by head coach Danny Hall.
He only knew how badly he wanted to win.
But once he learned about the Jackets tradition he fully embraced it, then, once he came to Atlanta, he embodied it on the field for three years and on Oct. 16 he will become a permanent part of it.
Greene will be one of nine former Jackets’ student-athletes inducted into the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame, joining Two-time Olympian and NCAA track champion Chaunté Howard Lowe, All-American softball pitcher Jessica Cole, long-time director of broadcasting Wes Durham, first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference tailback Joe Burns, four-time Academic All-American punter Dan Dyke, four-year Georgia Tech football manager and alum Charlie Germany, All-Atlantic Coast Conference golfer Kris Mikkelsen, and Jakie Rudolph, an All-American Specialist and two sport letterman in football and golf at the annual Induction Dinner at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center.
“I feel like it’s something very special and very honored to be a part,” said Greene, who played at Georgia Tech from 2003 through 2005. “I was a Florida kid, so growing up I didn’t know too much about Georgia Tech and all the history and tradition there. So going through the program and being a part of it and now being out of it for a while, I certainly appreciate the history and tradition there. To become a part of that history is something that I truly appreciate and am humbled by.”
Greene, a three-year starter at shortstop was First Team All-American and Freshman All-American, All-ACC First-Teamer and 2005 ACC Tournament MVP shortstop, will become the 66th Georgia Tech baseball player to be inducted into the Hall and the 13th in the Danny Hall Era. Especially neat is that he gets to follow in the shoes of the legendary Nomar Garciaparra (Hall of Fame Class of 2004), the reason he chose to wear No. 5 for the Jackets. Tyler finished his career with a career .321 batting average, 242 hits, 27 home runs, 167 RBI, and 66 stolen bases — the RBI total is one more than Garciaparra, while the stolen base total matches him, good for seventh in school history).
Greene’s career got off to a great start, as he batted .316 with eight homers, 43 RBI and 19 stolen bases, with 72 hits and 48 runs scored. He capped off an unforgettable freshman year by helping the Jackets win the ACC Tournament in memorable fashion. They’d come out of the loser’s bracket and winning three games on the final day, blasting North Carolina, 10-6, and Florida State, 10-7, then avenging their only loss of the tournament, beating North Carolina State, 6-5 in 10 innings.
“I just remember my feet hurt for a week,” he said, with a laugh. “That was a crazy day and a crazy experience. We had a little burst of energy, that last adrenaline rush after we won it and kind of celebrated in the locker room a little bit, but [on the bus back to Atlanta] we were like little babies in the car. Once the wheels started rolling everybody was pretty much knocked out.”
After a runner-up finish in the 2004 Tournament, Greene and the Jackets would regain the crown again in 2005, avenging the 2004 championship game loss to Florida State, by twice topping the Seminoles, the second time an 18-2 spanking in the semifinals. They’d beat Virginia, 4-3 in the championship game. The title capped off what would be Tyler’s finest season statistically. Greene, who was First Team All-ACC, First Team All-American, and ACC Tournament MVP, batted .372, with 100 hits, 12 of them home runs, 72 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 31 stolen bases, all career highs. He’d set a school-record with four grand slams and put together a 23-game winning streak, tied for sixth-longest in school history. To show how special that season was, Greene became one of only 13 Yellow Jackets ever to have a 100-hit season and he and teammate Wes Hodges, who had 106 hits that year, are the last Yellow Jackets to record 100 hits in a season. In addition, no Georgia Tech player has stolen 30 bases since `05 (Kyle Wren came close, swiping 28 in 2013).
“Personally it was a great year. I was finally able to put together the offensive and defensive sides of the game and that what was important,” he said. “I look back to my freshman year, I did really well offensively but struggled a little bit defensively. Sophomore year was kind of reverse. So being able to put those two together in one season and the things we were able to accomplish that year, winning the conference tournament and getting all the way to Super Regionals, that was really special.”
Of course, the personal accomplishments were never part of what Greene was about.
“I didn’t even know about those [records],” he said, with a laugh. “Probably the hit streak was more important to me, to be able to get up there and get on base. I had some power, I joked and called it, `Wiry power,’ because I’m pretty skinny. I’m not that big of a guy. So that was just a bonus part of my game. For me, as a player, it was get on base, steal bases and play good shortstop.
“I was a humble player. I was never wrapped up in the stats and those kinds of personal things,” he added. “I was there to work, I was there to get better. I was there to help the team win. I was there to compete and to win. Whatever tools I had I was going to try to utilize them the best I could. I was out there to do my best and play as hard as I could.”
To Greene the personal accomplishments of 2005 took a back seat to the team’s winning a second ACC in three years, and hosting and winning a Regional, before falling in the Super Regional, also at Russ Chandler Stadium.
That’s just the Tyler Greene way — always Georgia Tech first.
Greene even put Georgia Tech’s first, over pro ball, as he turned down the Atlanta Braves, who drafted him coming out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School on the second round of the 2003 First Year Player Draft.
“That was probably one of the longest summers for me because I had two great opportunities to choose from,” he recalled. “I told myself in high school to sign with Tech because of the great program but also because of the education I would be able to receive. At the same time, growing up down in Florida, for the most part I always watched the Braves games, so I was split that summer. I went back and forth, back and forth. My education was always valued in my house when I grew up so I took the opportunity to get an education at Georgia Tech. I always believed that if I kept my work ethic and dedication up that I would get drafted again.”
He would, this time in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals. He would play five Major League seasons with the Cardinals (2009-12), the Houston Astros (the end of 2012) and the Chicago White Sox (2013). After splitting 2014 with the Gwinnett Braves (Triple-A) and El Paso Chihuahuas (San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate) he retired after being released in 2015 Spring Training by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Tyler is now embarking on a new life, as a financial advisor with Raymond James Financial, having recently passed his Series 7 exam. He plans to stay around baseball helping players seeing financial advice. It’s doing what he’s always done, putting his tools to work to help the team — only the tools are different.
“Right now my goal is to stay involved with the game but from a financial standpoint,” he said. “I really am excited about this new chapter I have. I want [the players] to be successful in the game. There are great opportunities career-wise and also financially speaking. You see TV shows like `Broke’ and it’s sad. I really want to be able to help players and to help baseball to try to eliminate it as much as possible. I’ve gone through everything that the majority of players are going through. I’m excited about being able to help in any way I can.”
He’s also relishing being full-time dad to his five-year-old son.
“It’s great to be back home. It’s a happy medium, I guess,” he said. “I get the opportunity to live the regular life now, you could say, being at home with my family, but also still being involved in the game that I loved to play and appreciated, especially the people that I played with.”
The 2015 Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame Induction Dinner will be held Oct. 16 at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center. Tickets for the dinner are $50 and can be purchased through the Alexander-Tharpe Fund at 404-894-6124. The inductees will also be honored during Tech’s football game against Pittsburgh on Oct. 17 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.