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Press Conference Transcript - Mark Teixeira

Feb. 11, 2009

A complete transcript from the Feb. 11 press conference featuring former Yellow Jacket All American Mark Teixeira:

Associate Director of Athletics Wayne Hogan: Hello everybody. Welcome to Georgia Tech today. We appreciate you being out here on this beautiful spring day. We always feel like it’s spring when baseball is right upon us. As many of you may know college baseball is getting ready to open. We actually have our season opener next Friday, the 20th of February. We’re looking forward to a great baseball season. I can’t think of a better way to get things started than to have one of our great former student athletes, a guy that has been certainly a treasure to Georgia Tech since he left here, certainly when he played here, to come and join us today for a couple of special announcements that he has to make.

Before we bring Mark Teixeira to the podium I would like to introduce Danny Hall. Danny, as you all know, is the winningest coach in Georgia Tech baseball history. He has continually put teams on the field from year to year that have the brought great pride to Georgia Tech and continues to be a real treasure – a guy that we love working with on a daily basis. Without further ado let’s bring Danny, and he’ll introduce Mark Teixeira.

Hall: Thank you and before I introduce Mark, I want to let everybody know that he has been traded to the Braves. Not true. We’re here obviously for a great reason today, and as Wayne mentioned a week from this Friday, Feb. 20th, we will open our season. And we’re certainly excited about that. But we’re excited to have Mark back here today, and it just happened to work out in his busy off season that he could come back today and share in these announcements. He came in 1999, and many of you may know he was the national freshmen of the year that season. He followed that up in 2000 by becoming the national player of the year. He won the Dick Howser Award. Then the year after that he was drafted in first round by the Texas Rangers. He is one of 10 either first-round picks or sandwich first-round picks that have come out of Georgia Tech in my era. He obviously signed for the largest signing bonus of any baseball draft pick that we have ever had out of here. I’ll mention that the same year he broke his ankle and missed probably almost 85% of the season (because of it). But he came back and played late in the year for us – played in the Regional on just about one leg. I’ve said many times that most guys in his position with everything riding on the line with the professional draft would never have thought about putting an uniform on and maybe jeopardizing getting hurt again. But to his credit he played, and we didn’t quite advance out of the Regional. (He played in the Regional) because his goal when he came here was to play in the College World Series. That didn’t happen for him. That’s probably my only regret in having him here – we never got the chance to get him and his teammates to the World Series while he was here.

Also, I want to mention, because I think it definitely needs to be mentioned, that he was a First Team Academic All-America as well while he was here. I think a lot of times we learn about people and what kind of player they are, but sometimes the person and how hard he works academically while he was here to be a great student needs to be mentioned. In 2007, we honored his jersey number 23 here at Georgia Tech. I think it is 1 of 4 jerseys that have been honored in baseball. Randy Carroll, sitting over here, has had his jersey honored. Kevin Brown’s jersey has been honored. Nomar Garciaparra’s jersey has been honored. So he’s in select company. Jason Varitek and Jim Luck, the ex coach here, those two numbers are retired. So Mark is definitely in select company.

I’ll also say this – in my entire time since Mark left here, he has always given us money for our baseball program, and he has contributed otherwise through some other areas of Georgia Tech. His wife Leigh is a graduate of Georgia Tech. I mention that because a lot of pro athletes don’t give back to their schools or to their institutions. But Mark, from the day he left here, has always been very passionate about giving back to Georgia Tech. His gift today in the modern era of Georgia Tech athletes, in particular pro athletes, is the largest gift that has been given back to the Georgia Tech Athletic Association. So he is going to endow a scholarship in his name that will forever go to a baseball player here at Georgia Tech. And as many of you know we have 11.7 scholarships and the whole Athletic Association, and in particular Randy Carroll, is working hard to try to get all of the scholarships endowed. We have a ways to go yet, but certainly Mark’s gift today and his thoughtfulness is going to go a long way in hopefully launching us down the path to get our entire program, scholarship-wise, endowed. So without hesitation I want to introduce to you, you know about him as a player, but also just a great person and great friend to Georgia Tech baseball, Mark Teixeira.

Teixeira: Well as Coach said, Georgia Tech is always going to be my home. My wife graduated from here, (and it is) something that I plan to do after my career is over. So anytime we talk about charitable giving and helping out an institution or somebody that could really use, to benefit from our gifts, the gift that I’ve been giving as a baseball player, Georgia Tech has always been top of the list.

(Assistant Director of Athletics for Development) Jim Hall, a few years back, said, `”You know one of the biggest things we need to do is we need to get this endowment taken care of.” The Georgia Tech baseball team (is) not fully-endowed. I was on full scholarship here at Georgia Tech, and one of the reasons that I came here was because Coach Hall said, “As soon as you come here you know you’re going to have a scholarship, whether it’s 3 years or 5 years, you’re going to have a scholarship as long as you’re here.” That’s very important to me. With this endowment I know that the Mark Teixeira Scholarship will always be endowed to a (baseball) player at Georgia Tech, and hopefully there are going to be a couple more first-rounders to come through. I know there will be, (as well as) guys that are going to become coaches, doctors, lawyers. And for me to be able to help out the program, and also help out the student athletes that are coming to play here at Tech, is very important to me and the family.

Everyone knows my thoughts about Georgia Tech, and how much I love it here. This is always going to be my home.

Additional Statements from Teixeira:

“I think the endowment process helps out the entire university. Yeah, you can give to one specific area, or you can just give to the general endowment of the university, but at the same time because I was a baseball player, because baseball is what has given me this gift, I’m going to give back to the baseball program. That helps out the Athletic Association, which in turn will help out the entire university. So by endowing to the baseball program I think it’s helping out Georgia Tech as a whole.”

“As soon as I got drafted, I remember I was in Coach Hall’s office. I was actually in Coach Hall’s office when I got the call that said you’re deal is done – to go sign professionally. The first thing I told him, and I was with Victor (Menocal) as well, I said `Coach I just want you to know that I want to donate some money to the program and help you guys out every year.’ And every year we have just talked and (I’ve) said, `hey what can we do, what is (going on with) the strength and conditioning program, do they need some money?’ (And Coach Hall says,) `we need some money to help with’ whatever it was. When Jim came to me and said the endowment would really help out the entire program, help out the entire university, it was kind of a no-brainer that, once I was in the position that I am today, I would give an endowment.”

“It’s 500,000 dollars – that is what the endowment is. By my knowledge it will be there forever. I think that Georgia Tech baseball is always going to be strong, and Georgia Tech is always going to be a strong institution. So I think that endowment is going to be there forever. Coach Hall isn’t going to be there forever, but the scholarship will be there.” [laughter]

“I know it’s going to help out the baseball program, and I know it’s really going to help in getting the entire program endowed. That’s very important. I saw the numbers, the stats of the other programs at Tech and where they are. I know the baseball program has a little bit of catch-up to do. With the success that we’ve had here, and with the time and the effort that Coach Hall and his staff put in here, I think we owe it to the program and to Georgia Tech to get that endowed. So whether it was 500,000 or another number, we needed to make those steps to get it endowed.”

Question regarding if he’s tried to ask his former teammates to contribute

“You know I think at first I tried to lead by example, and hopefully there are going to be some other guys that will say, `hey you know, this is a need, this is something that I also feel strongly about,’ whether it’s a baseball player, a football player, or basketball, or whoever. I know that the Tech athletic program has put a lot of money into its facilities. We have a great baseball stadium, it’s amazing right now. So hopefully just by kind of leading by example maybe we’ll have some other athletes become involved.”

Question regarding if he keeps up with Tech baseball

“(Yes,) weekly. If I’m kind of hanging out at home or on the road I can sit and watch Georgia Tech and Florida State on the Gamecast and kind of see how guys are doing. I don’t know as many of the players now. I try to come back once or twice a year and meet some guys and talk to some guys. When their names become familiar on the internet or in the paper I can try to follow them that way.

“I appreciate you guys coming out here, and hopefully we’ll be here a lot more often with more giving to Georgia Tech. I know that will definitely be a part of the future.”

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