Mercer University’s baseball team hosted their annual First Pitch Classic event Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. in the University Center to kick off the beginning of the season.
Dale Murphy of the Atlanta Braves was the keynote speaker for the event. Murphy talked with many of the guests in attendance while signing autographs before dinner.
“I appreciate the chance to sign signatures, and hear some of the memories you have. I have great memories here,” said Murphy.
Junior outfielder for Mercer’s baseball team, Derrick Workman said, “Dale was fantastic. He represents everything right, and true about the game of baseball. One of the classiest men to ever play the game.”
The event started off with an invocation by the pastor of Rock Springs Church, Benny Tate. During the invocation, Tate said he was thankful for Dale Murphy as a role model not only for his athletic abilities, but also for his lifestyle. Athletics Director Jim Cole took the stage after Pastor Tate. Cole played baseball at Mercer University from 1990-1993.
To all of the coaches, players, friends, and family in attendance,” Cole said, “It’s going to be a special year.”
This event was held to help create awareness about the baseball program, honor its players, and raise money for the team.
Next to speak was Mercer’s Head Baseball Coach Craig Gibson. He thanked Jim Cole, Sybil Blalock, and Myra Cameron for everything that they do for the baseball program. “They help make the team possible,” said Gibson.
Gibson said that the team’s overall grade point average was a 3.3, and emphasized the importance of academic success.
The coach identified Workman as one of his student athletes who has maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout his time at Mercer. “It’s important [to study] because you can’t play forever,” said Workman.
Gibson brought the team’s six seniors to the stage to talk about their plans after graduation. The graduating seniors include Travis Benn, Evan Boyd, Logan Gaines, David Randall, David Teasley, and David Reid-Foley.
After each senior shared their plan for the future, Gibson said, “In 2013 we’re expecting some great things to happen.”
Frank Malloy, the Eyewitness News anchor for 13WMAZ, introduced Murphy. “I was born and raised in Portland Oregon, but this just feels like home in so many ways,” said Murphy.
Murphy shared many of his experiences as a major league baseball player with the crowd. He also gave the baseball players and younger children present some life lessons during his speech.
Murphy encouraged children to get involved with extracurricular actives. He said these activities will teach children important life lessons.
“When you’re my age, you want to be able to say I may not have hit all of the home runs that other guys hit or made all the all star teams, but I did things the right way,” said Murphy.
Murphy ended his speech with one last piece of advice: “Remember the things that are most important in our lives and that’s truly our relationships with our families, friends and with our God.”