April 7, 2010

An Ode To John Raynor

Even though I just wrote the current date, rewind to March 12, 2006. Bush was President and the Pirates were not in a World Championship year. And for no particular reason, I moved to Wilmington, N.C.

While not lacking for palm trees, cockroaches or drunken 19 year olds, Little Vegas had quite the lack of sports. My biggest ticket score in a year and a half was premier seats to an exhibition soccer game. In the spring, the only sport other than waiting for the water to get warm was college baseball.

Luckily, UNC-Wilmington had an unbelievable team that year, leading the nation in offense with 560 runs in their 64-game season. The Seahawks hit .322/.400/.501 as a team on their way to a CAA championship. Six players got drafted. It was $5 to get in and apparently legal to sneak in alcohol. And incredibly, every game was on the radio. College baseball! Of the games I didn't attend I doubt I missed more than four broadcasts.

The all time star of all time - in a city which also included every actor on One Tree Hill - was a speedy outfielder named John Raynor. Here were his senior year numbers:

64 Games
63 Runs
97 Hits
12 Home Runs
69 RBI
42 Steals (of 46 tries)

Aluminum bats of course, but aluminum bats didn't steal those 42 bases.

Four years later, John Raynor is poised to make his major league debut at PNC Park. Not only is he the Pirates 25th man, but they acquired him via the Rule V draft. Do you know what other outfielder the Pirates got in the Rule V draft? Roberto Clemente.

So when John Raynor comes off the bench to pinch run for Jeff Clement, I'll be wearing orange, but I'll be wearing Seahawks teal in spirit. In spirit because teal is ugly.

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