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#TGW: Let's Play Fore!

Nov. 5, 2014

By Jon Cooper
The Good Word

Georgia Tech Baseball knows how to do Homecoming right.

On Sunday afternoon the Yellow Jackets capped off 2014 Homecoming Weekend by holding Georgia Tech Baseball’s Third Annual Benefit Golf Outing at Echelon Golf Club in Alpharetta.

Fittingly, blue skies, sun and temperatures in the high 60s pushed out the blustery winds and low-50s temperatures that tormented Atlanta on Saturday.

“It ended up being a very nice day and it was good to see a lot of guys back,” said Georgia Tech Baseball Head Coach Danny Hall. “I think we had close to 90 golfers, the majority of them ex-baseball players. It was just good to get everybody together and, obviously, it ended up being a very pleasant day to play.”

The day isn’t as much a fundraiser as it is a day to get guys back together and celebrate all things Georgia Tech Baseball.

“We do raise some money on it but it’s more just to have a day where everybody can get together,” Hall said. “It’s a way for them to get back together and see each other at one time. There are a lot of baseball players that love playing golf. That’s for sure.”

With great weather and a great turnout, the estimated 92 alumni, donors and friends of the program had a great opportunity to catch up. Amongst those present were current Colorado Rockies All-Star outfielder Charlie Blackmon (Class of 2011 — he redshirted in 2007 after transferring in 2006 and played for Tech in 2008. He’d come back and complete his degree) and former shortstop Victor Menocal (Class of 2002), currently an agent with Excel Sports Management, whose clients include Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and right fielder Jason Heyward.

“Charlie’s a great guy, very smart guy and loves Georgia Tech,” said Hall. “It was great to see him out there. I know his former teammates enjoyed seeing him.

“Victor’s done very well in the agent business,” Hall continued. “He actually works for a guy that I coached at the University of Michigan named Casey Close. He’s done very well and it certainly looks like he’s headed for a great career as a sports agent.”

The event also brought back together most of 2014 ACC Championship team, including 2014 June draftees Dusty Isaacs, Daniel Spingola and Mott Hyde. Spingola chose to return for his senior year — and gave Hall an opportunity to talk with the new pros.

“I think they all enjoyed it and I think they all had a good measure of success,” Hall said. “The one common theme was, `Man, was it a long summer!’ They play every day, there are very few off-days. So from starting in January with us and going throughout season, then signing and going through a pro season, they’re ready to forget about baseball for a little while and get some rest.

“The funny thing is that probably most of those guys are back in here working out with [Strength and Conditioning Coach] Steve Tamborra,” Hall added, with a laugh. “So they’re already doing the strength and conditioning training to get ready for another season.”

The 2014 Yellow Jackets got a final tip of the cap from the Tech faithful on Saturday afternoon when it was recognized for its ACC Championship on the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium during a break in the Yellow Jackets’ 35-10 rout of Virginia.

Any cold from the biting winds was overshadowed by the heartwarming response.

“The ovation our guys got was tremendous,” Hall said. “Some of our guys today on campus mentioned, `Wow, what an ovation we got when we went out there.’ It was just a nice way to recognize their accomplishment and their achievement. The most important thing to me is that everybody that played on the team last year came back for it. It was awesome.”

The most awesome on the course on Sunday, according to Hall, was assistant coach Bryan Prince (Class of 2001, Hall of Fame Class of 2014), who captained the winning team. The victory capped what has been an amazing month-plus for Prince, who was inducted into the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 10 and was the coach of the victorious Gold Team in the White-Gold Series.

“The Hall of Famer played very well,” said Hall. “His team won. I actually was on Prince’s team so I kind of just jumped on his back and tried to contribute where I could.”

Hall is looking forward to the fourth annual next year and that the event will expand to include more out-of-town alumni.

“We’ve kind of done this in hopes that maybe somebody that’s out of town that wanted to come back and go to the Homecoming football game, would stay and play golf,” he said. “It’s still mostly guys that live in Metro Atlanta that do it but we always try to do it right around Homecoming.”

* * * * *

The Good Word hadn’t talked with Coach Hall since the start of the 2014 World Series, won by the San Francisco Giants in seven games, on the back of MVP Madison Bumgarner.

Coach Hall remembering the prediction he gave TGW prior to Game One couldn’t resist bringing it up.

“I do have to ask you,” he said. “How was my prediction on the World Series?”

Here is Coach Hall’s prediction. “Whoever wins tonight. I think the fact that it’s in Kansas City could be a factor but I think the way Madison Bumgarner is pitching right now I’d probably lean on the Giants, just thinking that he’ll win tonight and that’s going to kind of give them the upper hand in the series. I think both teams are evenly-matched. They’re different in how they try to score, so that could definitely be a factor. I look at Kansas City and, to me, their three big bats are [Alex] Gordon, [Eric] Hosmer, and [Mike] Moustakas, those have been the guys that have kind of carried them, they’re all left-handed and I think left-hand hitters have a hard time hitting Bumgarner. So I’ll go with the Giants, based on Madison Bumgarner.”

“I think it could go seven games,” he said. “I always root for seven games. It makes the baseball season last longer.”

“That actually worked out pretty good,” Hall said, with a laugh. “But I didn’t dream [Bumgarner would] do what he did, I can tell you that. I got a kick out of that.”

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