May 15, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. -
Former South Carolina head coach Bobby Richardson will be honored by the Southeastern Conference as a member of the 2014 class of SEC Baseball Legends Presented by AT&T at the 2014 SEC Baseball Tournament May 20-25 at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala.
"The SEC Baseball Legends Presented by AT&T allows us to honor the deep tradition and history of baseball in our league and show why the SEC is the nation's premier baseball conference," said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. "We are grateful to our friends at AT&T for helping to continue to make this program possible."
The 2014 class features Richardson, Phil Garner, Tennessee; Jake Gibbs, Ole Miss; Jay Powell, Mississippi State. Four legends are recognized each year, with representatives from Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Alabama and Florida set to be honored in 2015.
The 2013 class featured Hal Baird, Auburn; Terry Shumpert, Kentucky; Skip Bertman, LSU; and Gene McArtor, Missouri. The inaugural class in 2012 included: Dr. Jeffrey Laubenthal, Alabama; Kevin McReynolds, Arkansas; Brad Wilkerson, Florida and Rev. Reggie Andrews, Georgia.
"AT&T is excited to be part of the SEC Baseball Legends program. Our presenting sponsorship further solidifies our relationship with and commitment to the Southeastern Conference" said Jamie Kerr, Director, AT&T Corporate Sponsorships. "We couldn't be happier to support the conference in honoring these legendary coaches and former student-athletes for their successes on and off the playing field."
Each legend will be recognized individually throughout the two quarterfinal matchups on Friday and will have on-field recognition and an awards presentation by Commissioner Slive on Saturday, May 24, during the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. Fans will have an opportunity for autographs and photos with the honorees at the AT&T Legends Pavilion immediately following. The Legends will also participate in the annual SEC Youth Clinic on Friday morning.
2014 SEC Baseball Legends - Presented by AT&T
BOBBY RICHARDSON- South Carolina; Coach: 1970-1976
Often considered the father of South Carolina baseball, Richardson established the Gamecock program as a national power in the 1970s. During his tenure from 1970-76, he led South Carolina to three NCAA Tournament appearances including a 1975 appearance in the College World Series. Prior to his coaching career, he was an eight-time all-star for the New York Yankees and was named the 1960 World Series MVP. Richardson was hired by South Carolina athletics director Paul Dietzel in 1970 with a mandate to put the baseball program on the map. He was the Gamecocks' first full-time baseball coach; previously the program had been headed by part-timers, usually an assistant football coach or physical education professor, and had been a .500 program at best for the last 67 years. Richardson started slowly, having never coached or managed a team before. His first record of 14-20 would be South Carolina's last losing record over the next 30 years. During the next two seasons, he expanded the Gamecocks' schedule and led the program to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1974. That set the stage for the '75 season in which South Carolina posted a 51-6-1 record and made the College World Series for the first time ever. The Gamecocks advanced all the way to the national championship game against Texas (a 5-1 Longhorns' victory). Richardson left South Carolina in 1976, finishing his tenure with a 221-92-1 record and three NCAA Tournament appearances. He then ran for United States Congress, losing to the incumbent by a narrow margin. His professional career was spent as a second baseman for the New York Yankees from 1955-66. He was known as a superb defensive infielder and a clutch hitter. In the 1960 World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Richardson hit .367 and drove in 12 runs and was named Most Valuable Player -- he remains to this day the only World Series MVP who played for the losing team. His best overall season was 1962, when he hit .302 with eight home runs.
PHIL GARNER - Tennessee, Shortstop: 1968-1970
A Tennessee letterman from 1968-70, Jefferson City, Tenn., native Phil Garner is one of many Volunteers whose success on the field at Lindsey Nelson Stadium led to further success in the professional ranks of baseball. During his three-year career at UT, Garner earned two first-team selections to the All-SEC team, coming in 1969 and 1970. During his 1969 season, Garner appeared in 33 games and drove in 34 runs on 33 hits while carrying a .295 batting average. He also hit 12 home runs during the campaign. The 1970 season would prove to be Garner's best as a Vol. He finished the season with a .356 batting average, 47 hits and 35 RBIs. For his career, Garner compiled a .296 average, 62 runs, 91 hits, 17 homers and 73 RBIs. Garner began his professional career when he was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 1971. During his 16 years in the majors, Garner spent time with the Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. His best year as a pro was in 1979, when he was a member of the World Series Champion Pirates. During the postseason Garner batted .417 in the NLCS, followed by a .500 batting average (12-for-24) in the World Series. During his time in Pittsburgh, Garner earned the nickname "Scrap Iron" due to his hard-nosed, gritty style of play. Garner was elected to the All-Star team on three occasions in 1976, 1980 and 1981. His career stats include a .260 batting average, 1,594 hits and 738 RBIs. Garner took the job as the manager for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1992. Over the next 15 years, he would manage for the Brewers, Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros. Garner spent four years in Houston, leading the Astros to the franchise's only World Series in 2005. Garner was one of the first inductees into the prestigious Tennessee Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 and was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.
JAKE GIBBS - Ole Miss; 3rd Base: 1958-1961; Coach: 1972-1990
A three-year letter winner for the Rebels from 1959-61, Jake Gibbs helped Ole Miss to a pair of Southeastern Conference Championships with his prowess at the plate and in the field at third base. His accomplishments on the diamond still stand as some of the best in program history, and launched a long career in professional baseball and in the collegiate coaching ranks. Gibbs helped lead the Rebels to back-to-back SEC Championships (1959, 1960), hitting .388 in his first season and an impressive .424 in his second year in the Red and Blue. That .424 batting average still stands as second-highest in a season for a Rebel hitter and Gibbs' career average of .384 still stands as the third-highest in school history. A three-time All-SEC selection and two-time All-America selection (1960, 1961) in baseball, Gibbs also earned All-SEC and All-America honors as a football player and helped lead the Rebels to a share of the national championship in football in 1959 and 1960. He also helped Ole Miss claim the 1960 SEC Championship. He was signed by the New York Yankees in 1961 following his senior season and compiled a 10-year career with the Bronx Bombers organization. After the 1971 season with New York, Gibbs traded in his glove for the cap of manager and returned to Ole Miss to take over the head coaching duties for legendary Rebel coach Tom Swayze. Gibbs took the Rebels to the College World Series and an SEC Championship in 1972, his first season coaching Ole Miss. Gibbs added a second SEC Championship and claimed the first-ever SEC Tournament in the 1977 season. For his 19-year coaching career, Gibbs compiled a record of 485-389-8, the second most wins of any coach in Ole Miss history. He coached 27 All-SEC selections and two players to All-America honors. He also coached 31 MLB Draft selections, including eight players who went on to play in the Major Leagues.
JAY POWELL - Mississippi State; Pitcher: 1991-1993
Jay Powell was a three-year letterman at Mississippi State from 1991 to 1993, playing each year on teams which advanced to the NCAA Regionals. The SEC legend finished his career as one of the most accomplished pitchers in school history, leaving school with a 2.82 career ERA and 17 saves. His 10 saves in his freshman campaign set the school record at the time, and along with his 1.28 ERA in 1991 earned him a spot on Baseball America's freshman All-American team. Powell played in 67 career games with the Maroon and White, earning 11 wins and throwing five complete games. In 1993, he became the fifth MSU player and second Bulldog pitcher ever drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft, being selected 19th overall by Baltimore. The hard-throwing Collinsville, Miss., native went on to play 11 seasons in the big leagues for five different teams. The 6-foot-4 flamethrower was traded by the Orioles to the Florida Marlins on Dec. 6, 1994, before making his debut in The Show at age 23 with the Marlins on Sept. 10, 1995. His best season was 1997, when he was 7-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 79.2 innings for the Marlins. On Oct. 26, 1997, Powell earned the win for Florida in game seven of World Series against Cleveland, bringing the south Florida franchise its first world championship. Following stints with Houston (1998-2001), Colorado (2001) and Texas (2002-04), the former Bulldog great appeared in his last MLB game with the Atlanta Braves on July 29, 2005. Powell ended his big league career with a 36-23 all-time record and 22 career saves in 512 appearances. Powell is one of a prestigious group of pitchers who threw for at least 10 Major League seasons and never had a losing record. After retiring, he returned to his home state, where he serves as head baseball coach at Jackson Academy.