Ryan Bordenick put up a lot of great numbers as a member of the South Carolina baseball program from 1995-1998, but as a member of the 2016 class for the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame sponsored by the Association of Lettermen, he would rather talk about all of the people who helped him along the way.
“I was speechless,” Bordenick said when he was told the news. “It was a very humbling and exciting moment. I get chills every time I hear ‘2001’ because it brings me back to the good old days of playing at Carolina.
“Baseball is a team sport, and you always think of your teammates first. I couldn’t have done what I did without guys like Derick Urquhart, Adam Everett, and the guys who played around me. You can’t be successful unless you have successful guys with you as well."
With success on and off the baseball field, Bordenick appreciates all that South Carolina provided for him.
“I had an opportunity to play pro ball,” Bordenick said. “I tell everybody today, if I tried to play pro ball coming out of high school, I wouldn’t have been as successful as I was, and not just on the athletics side. College is about preparing yourself, time management, being responsible, being accountable, make sure you are doing the right thing, and getting to classes. It’s preparing you for everyday life. Not just the education part of it, but knowing what you have to do to get things done.”
Born in Pittsburgh, Pa., Bordenick grew up in Mauldin, S.C., and one of his influences in coming to South Carolina came indirectly from South Carolina’s legendary former groundskeeper Sarge Frye. A member of the Frye family was his Little League coordinator in Bordenick’s hometown.
“With everybody in the Upstate wanting to talk about Clemson, he sort of introduced me to Carolina,” Bordenick said. “I got older and wiser and Jerry Frye, Sarge’s son, was in charge of the Little League program years ago. He had mentioned some things about Carolina to me. That sort of opened up the door for me to check it out.”
They’re records I hope somebody breaks some day because it means that someone else is being successful.Ryan Bordenick
Bordenick earned first-team All-America honors as a designated hitter/catcher in 1997 and second-team honors in 1998. He was also a first-team All-SEC selection. Bordenick posted a career-best .419 batting average in 1997 and drove in 87 runs that season with 13 home runs. He holds the highest career batting average for any four-year player in Gamecock history (.357) while totaling 211 career base hits.
“The single season batting average of .419 and the four-year career record are the two I’m probably the happiest about,” Bordenick said. “They’re records I hope somebody breaks some day because it means that someone else is being successful. Being recognized for that, and knowing all of the hard work I put in, it really means a lot.”
Bordenick’s time with the Gamecocks was somewhat unique in that he played his first two years for head coach June Raines, and he was coached by Ray Tanner for his final two seasons.
“We had to adjust to that transition because there were different ways of doing things,” Bordenick said. “We joke around now with Coach Tanner and tell him that he really lightened up on the players compared to the first few years with us when he came in. They had different mentalities, but both were great coaches. I think I fit well with each of the two, and I benefitted from it.”
Whether it was on the field or off the field, Bordenick still carries many fond thoughts of his time as a Gamecock.
“There was such a great atmosphere and environment there,” Bordenick said. “All of the close friends that I acquired during the course of my four years of going to Carolina, playing baseball, being successful and being able to contribute to the team as well as the university, are all great memories.
“I still tell kids today, don’t just go to a university for athletics. Go for the enjoyment of the entire process. My closest friends in the world to this day are still my college friends. There’s a bond that goes beyond family.”
Bordenick was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers after his South Carolina career and played six years professionally before hanging up his spikes to start a family.
“My last three years, I was playing in an independent league in northern Pennsylvania, and was coaching one season,” Bordenick said. “That’s where I met my wife, Ann. So I settled down after my playing and coaching career and stared working for NVR, Inc., or Ryan Homes, which is a home building company. I’ve been doing that for the last 12 years.”
Bordenick comes back to Columbia for the alumni baseball game on a regular basis and enjoys catching a game whenever possible. He’s also still proud of the Gamecock Baseball program, then and now.
“I still tell people that Sarge Frye Field was the best playing surface in the country,” Bordenick said. “The new stadium is absolutely amazing. It’s a great opportunity for the athletes coming in there now. If you don’t want to play at Carolina, then you’ve got something wrong with you.”
Ryan and Ann have two sons, R.J (9) and Ian (5).