Francona & Varitek have Golden Spikes
Posted by athomeatfenway on July 18, 2009
One of the best Red Sox trivia stumpers I know goes like this: Who are the five current Red Sox that won the Golden Spikes Award in college ?
The Golden Spikes is like the Naismith Award, going to the best college player in the nation.
Answer: J.D. Drew, Mark Kotsay, Jason Varitek, Dave Magadan and Terry Francona.
Surprised about Francona ? The injury prone manager batted .401 in 1980, was College World Series MVP, lead his team to the National Title, and left the University of Arizona in the Top 8 all time in RBI, Hits, Extra Base Hits, and Total Bases among all Wildcat players.
His bench coach, Brad Mills, wasn’t half bad either, with a .515 career OBP, third on the Cats’ all time list.
Francona batted .274 with just 10 HR’s in 16 gimpy MLB seasons, but his 900 – 525 WL record as Sox Manager burnishes his image.
J.D. Drew starred at Florida State University (1997), and .now sports a career .282 BA w 202 HR’s in 12 (part time) MLB seasons — very respectable.
Mark Kotsay won when at Cal State Fulleron (1995). His career MLB .282 BA and 1542 Hits in 13 campaigns is a workmanlike line.
Sox Batting Coach, Dave Magadan, University of Alabama (1983), had an MLB career .288 BA and squeezed out 1197 hits over 16 seasons. Certainly qualifies him to teach.
Jason Varitek won when at Georgia Tech (1994). Considered altogether, the two World Championships, .261 BA and 174 HR’s over 13 years are very respectable. Add in the 4 no-hitters he has called with 4 different pitchers, and you understand why he has earned a special place in the hearts of baseball fans, and baseball history.
These five Sox pretty well represent all GS winner when it comes to position players. Plenty of long MLB careers among the winners, but no MVP’s or Batting Champs. And, of course, no Hall of Famers.
The Sox Golden Spikers beat out some fine competitors in college, including Nomar Garciaparra, Todd Walker, Todd Helton, Troy Glaus and Lance Berkman, to name a few.
Since the award’s inception in 1978, a lot of matriculated MLB superstars were not selected — Barry Bonds (Az. State), Roger Clemens (Texas), Ryan Howard (Mo. St.), Jeff Bagwell (Hartford), Frank Thomas (Auburn), Jason Giambi (Cal-Longbeach), Dustin Pedroia (Az. State), Tony Gwynn (San Diego St.), Kirby Puckett (Bradley), and Randy Johnson (USC).
The award has produced a steady supply of starting pitchers like Ben McDonald, Alex Fernandez, Jim Abbott, Darren Dreifort, Jason Jennings, Mark Prior, Jered Weaver…..and Tim Lincecum.
32 winners. 20 position players. 12 pitchers.
All but 4 of the 32 players reached the majors.
Nice players, yes.
It’s a roster of talent, but the big guns signs out of high school.
College has not been, since the Class of 1978 at least, a path to the Hall Of Fame.
But that could change.
Mark Prior and Tim Lincecum are the only Golden Spikes winners who pitched themselves to the MLB All Star game. The similarity should end there. Young Lincecum projects to have a long and fruitful career, unlike the injury prone Cub, who hung it up after just 5 seasons.
At the All Star Break, USA Baseball’s Executive Director Paul Seiler announced that the 2009 Golden Spikes Award winner is Stephen Strasberg of San Diego State. He had a 13-1 WL record this year, with a 1.32 ERA, and 195 K’s in 109 IP.
To learn more about the award and its history, go to www.goldenspikesaward.com
A herd of future pro’s go for the sheepskin at Arizona State, which alone has sent 91 players to the major leagues since 1961, including the player-of-the-century (in his own mind) Reggie Jackson (’66), the durable Gary Gentry & Larry Gura (’67), ’86 BoSox keystoner Marty Barrett, the loveable ’69 Met Duffy Dyer, and the first Golden Spikes winner ever, Bob Horner. Just part of what makes Arizona a FANTASTIC Baseball state.