By Jon Cooper | The Good Phrase
THE FLATS — Generally, one phrase is sufficient to rekindle the fires of nice reminiscences.
“Tex” is one such phrase.
Say “Tex” wherever on the Georgia Tech campus — particularly round Russ Chandler Stadium — and also you’ll ignite a bonfire of recollections of Mark Teixeira’s days on The Flats.
From 1999-2001, Teixeira was a switch-hitting, bomber offensively with a clean glove and highly effective arm at third base. He’d win ACC and Nationwide Rookie of the 12 months in 1999, ACC and Nationwide Participant of the 12 months the next season, First-Group All-ACC and All-America each years and even Educational All-America in 2000.
“Tex” would, fittingly, be chosen by Texas with the fifth general decide of the 2001 MLB Draft, and proceed his excellence over the subsequent 14 years. He’d play in three All-Star Video games (together with the 2005 Midseason Basic fellow Jackets alumnus Jason Varitek), and a World Collection (2009, with the New York Yankees), win 5 Gold Gloves (all at first base), three Silver Sluggers, and a World Collection ring.
These three years at Tech earned Teixeira, who presently supplies sharp, thinking-man’s takes as an analyst on ESPN — he additionally supplies enter on the Georgia Tech Board of Trustees and the Alexander Tharpe Fund — induction into the Georgia Tech Sports activities Corridor of Fame in 2011 (his 14 in Arlington, Atlanta and the Bronx may earn him induction into the Baseball Corridor of Fame as quickly as 2022).
The very best of these three years got here in 2000, his sophomore 12 months.
“It was probably the greatest years of my life,” “Tex” recalled. “I used to be having a blast. Our soccer workforce was nice (the Jackets had been 9-3, beat Georgia in Athens, 27-15, completed second within the ACC at 6-2, and No. 17/19 within the nation), I began courting my spouse, I had a tremendous season from a workforce standpoint and a private standpoint after which went and performed for Group USA that summer season. So general it was a spectacular 12 months for me.”
Spectacular is not any exaggeration.
He set career-bests in batting common (.427), slugging share (.772), hits (103), extra-base hits (43), dwelling runs (18), runs scored (104), runs pushed in (80), and even stolen bases (13). His batting common, dwelling runs, runs scored, slugging share, and on-base share led the ACC. He additionally led the workforce in hits, complete bases, and tied for the workforce lead in triples (4), and and his batting common, slugging, hits, complete bases, runs, and RBIs nonetheless rank in this system’s top-10 all-time — his runs nonetheless a program-best. As unbelievable, the slugger struck out solely 23 instances. He’d earn ACC Participant of the 12 months, was First-Group All-ACC, Consensus First-Group All-America, received the Dick Howser Trophy (faculty baseball’s nationwide participant of the 12 months), and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award (the nation’s high newbie participant).
All that particular person glory was good however at all times got here second to workforce glory.
In fact, there was loads of that, too.
The 2000 Jackets completed 50-16 (a .758 successful share that ranked third within the nation and ties for second for a Yellow Jackets workforce within the Danny Corridor Period), 18-6 in ACC play (the .750 stands third amongst Corridor’s groups), received the ACC regular-season championship (Corridor’s second of 5) and event championship (his first of 5), spent two weeks as nationwide No. 1 and hosted each a Regional (Tech’s third) and Tremendous Regional (the varsity’s first).
Whereas they got here up in need of attending to Omaha and the Faculty World Collection, Corridor admits 2000 was nonetheless fairly a enjoyable trip with fairly an excellent workforce.
“You at all times examine groups to the primary workforce I coached that performed for the nationwide championship however I truthfully thought THAT workforce was one of the best workforce I’ve had at Georgia Tech,” he stated. “That workforce was so good and so they’d labored so laborious, they deserved the possibility to go to Omaha. We simply, sadly, ran right into a purple scorching Southern Cal workforce within the Tremendous Regionals.”
Teixiera was on a mission in 2000, seeking to construct on a freshman marketing campaign that noticed him win Nationwide Freshman of the 12 months, ACC Rookie of the 12 months, and First-Group All-ACC and a summer season the place he crushed within the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Orleans Cardinals, incomes League Excellent Professional Prospect.
But Corridor seen Teixeira’s largest dedication had nothing to do with hitting.
“I believe the most important factor that he took loads of satisfaction in and needed to get higher at was his protection,” he stated. “He simply obtained in actually good condition, obtained stronger. You’ll be able to credit score (Participant Growth Coach) Steve Tamborra for spending loads of time working with him to get him sturdy. However Mark honed his craft. All people knew that he had loads of energy however he took it upon himself to attempt to be nearly as good a defensive third baseman as he may probably be.”
“From Day One, not solely was he gifted talent-wise, however he had nice work habits, he had nice focus,” he added. “We had been very lucky that we obtained him to Georgia Tech. He turned down some huge cash within the draft out of highschool however he knew precisely the place he needed to go and he knew how he was going to get there. He simply stayed centered on that the entire time that he was at school.”
Teixeira didn’t want to take a look at numbers to know 2000 was an amazing 12 months. He may really feel it.
“I felt like I used to be going to get successful each single time up. It felt like even one of the best pitchers couldn’t get me out. That’s only a enjoyable place to be, within the batter’s field when you’ve got that a lot confidence,” he stated. “One of many enjoyable issues about baseball is that if you end up in a zone or whenever you’re having success, the sport actually does develop into gradual and straightforward. It’s nonetheless NOT a straightforward sport however whenever you’re on the high of your sport and taking part in towards one of the best within the nation and you’ll carry out, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Teixeira felt nearly as good about his teammates.
“I beloved our steadiness. We had such nice beginning pitching, reduction pitching, our lineup was unbelievable — I believe we had seven guys drafted from our beginning 9,” he stated. “And we really loved taking part in collectively. We felt like we had been going to win each single sport. We had that sort of confidence. Successful breeds confidence. So after we obtained on that roll after the primary few weeks each single sport we confirmed up anticipating to win.”
“All people knew coming in how good Mark was however (second baseman) Richard Lewis was type of underneath the radar,” Corridor stated. “Victor Menocal was a high-profile shortstop prospect. We had two pitchers, Rhett Parrott and Steve Kelly, that had been simply excellent. So he was surrounded with expertise and I believe they fed off of one another’s work ethic. They needed to be one of the best.”
The Jackets roared out of the gate, successful eight of their first 10 video games, however then skilled their first hiccup of the season. They dropped a pair to Georgia, and, of their opener on the Kia Baseball Bash in Fullerton, Calif., the 10th-ranked Jackets took 1-Zero and 2-1 leads towards No. 7 Southern California, however then could be handcuffed by Trojans starter Mark Prior, falling, 9-2. Rain would wash out the remainder of the weekend.
The three-game dropping streak, throughout which they had been outscored 31-7, and a possible seven-day layoff didn’t sit properly.
“We got here again and tightened the screws on them just a little bit to wake them up and get them centered once more,” Corridor recalled. “I believe we hit the bottom operating as soon as we got here again from that journey.”
“We obtained despatched again dwelling on the red-eye and landed in Atlanta and went straight to follow on the ballpark,” Teixeira remembers. “You’ll be able to think about simply how drained we had been. We had been cranky, like, ‘Coach Corridor, why are you doing this to us?’ But it surely woke us up. He mainly stated, ‘We went all the best way on the market, obtained embarrassed, haven’t practiced in two days. We’re attending to work.’”
Teixeira calls that follow, and the workforce’s response to it, considered one of two defining moments of the season. The Jackets received 4 of their subsequent 5, together with beating Georgia on March 14 in an 11-inning thriller in Athens — they’d even the season sequence with UGA with a 7-Three dwelling win on April 25.
The opposite defining second got here three days after the Georgia win, within the ACC-opening sequence at Russ Chandler towards North Carolina. The Tar Heels got here in 21-0 — nonetheless the Heels’ college file for consecutive wins to start out a season — with a workforce that ranks as some of the potent offensive groups of their historical past.
The Jackets would sweep, sandwiching one-run wins (5-Four and 8-7) round a 16-Three rout.
“That was the weekend that we knew that we had been nearly as good as anyone within the ACC,” Teixeira stated. “We knew how gifted North Carolina was. That weekend gave us loads of confidence.”
“They had been loaded,” Corridor stated. “I keep in mind that being a key sequence. Our guys checked out it like, ‘Hey, we predict we’re higher than them. They’re ranked No. 1 within the nation coming in right here and we’re going to show that we ARE higher than them.’”
Following that sequence, the Jackets received 18 of their subsequent 20 video games and headed into postseason on a 27-Eight run (.771). They’d attain No. 1 within the nation, on Could 22 and keep there the ultimate two weeks of the season. Nonetheless, they aspired for extra.
“We actually needed to host a Regional,” Teixeira recalled. “That was essential to us.”
Tech confirmed that willpower within the ACC Event, outscoring opponents, 42-21, in going 5-0. However there have been challenges alongside the best way, particularly two video games with host Clemson.
Within the quarterfinal, the Jackets trailed 7-Zero after three innings, earlier than forging a comeback and a dramatic, 9-Eight walkoff win. Teixeira doubled in Tech’s first run, then doubled within the game-tying run within the two-run ninth. Longtime assistant coach and Georgia Tech Athletics Corridor of Famer (Class of 2014) Bryan Prince scored the successful run, when Clemson dedicated an error on a possible inning-ending double play.
The groups met once more within the championship sport, and, once more, Tech got here from behind, this time successful, 8-4. Teixeira had a two-run double within the seventh to tie the sport at 4-4, redeeming himself for 2 errors within the discipline. It was satisfying to take down the Tigers, considered one of his potential suitors popping out of highschool.
“Clemson at all times had such an amazing workforce and it’s an unbelievable program there,” Teixeira stated. “Plenty of us had visited Clemson. So I believe there’s just a little bit additional particular which means whenever you beat a workforce like Clemson that’s so near Atlanta.”
The Jackets would get to host a Regional for the primary time since 1993 and stayed on a roll, successful an 11-9 slugfest with Georgia Southern, then blowing away Stetson by a mixed 40-12, to win the Regional. It was the primary Regional victory since 1994, Corridor’s first season on the helm and Tech’s first journey to the Faculty World Collection.
The trip would finish within the Supers, nevertheless, when Southern California got here to city and bested the Jackets, 7-2 and 6-3. Teixeira went 3-for-Four within the second sport, however the Trojans’ pitching proved an excessive amount of.
“Sadly, we needed to face USC within the Tremendous Regionals. It was simply type of a troublesome draw there with a very good workforce,” Teixeira remembered. “Prior was their No. 2 starter. Their No. 1 was Rik Currier, who was type of a Zack Greinke sort — simply hit the corners, saved the ball down, actually good faculty pitcher.”
Teixeira was rewarded for his season-long heroics by being named ACC Participant of the 12 months, successful the Howser Trophy, and being named a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award. That summer season, he performed with Lewis on USA Baseball, main the workforce in hitting, slugging, on-base share, hits, runs, RBIs, and tying in homers, together with a pair of game-winning, extra-inning homers towards Taiwan. He completed on a 23-game hitting streak and helped the U.S. to a 27-3-1 file.
Teixeira would go away for the Majors after an injury-shortened junior season, however his coronary heart by no means left the Flats.
In 2014, he financed a $4.5 million renovation of the baseball locker room, in 2014, doubling its dimension. The brand new-look “Mark Teixeira Locker Room/Gamers Lounge” fittingly measures 2,000 sq. ft.
“I didn’t know that,” Teixeira stated, with amusing. “However that may be very neat.
“Georgia Tech did a lot for me,” he added. “Coach Corridor believed in me, he gave me a scholarship after highschool and put me within the beginning line up on Day One. If it wasn’t for Georgia Tech I don’t assume I’d be within the place that I’m in life and have the profession that I had. As a result of Georgia Tech was so good to me it’s essential for me to present again.”
— to ramblinwreck.com