Baseball Hall of Famers from the Class of 1994
The Georgia Tech baseball team had their most successful season in 1994. Playing in Georgia Tech Russ Chandler Stadium, they ended their season with a 50-17 record and a runner-up finish in the College World Series in Omaha. It was Danny Hall's  first year as head coach for the Yellow Jackets, but his team was not fazed by that. The veteran team exhibited no signs of disunity or discomfort with the transition. Rather, they went farther in the NCAA tournament than all Georgia Tech teams, and still hold that record in Georgia Tech history. This did not occur by accident or luck; the team was led by phenomenal upper classmen. Four of them went on to play in the Major Leagues in 1996. Those same four were eventually inducted into the Georgia Tech Baseball Hall of Fame. Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, Brad Rigby, and Jay Payton all left their mark on the Georgia Tech baseball program and their contributions will always be remembered.
Before Georgia Tech
Jason Varitek was the catcher for Georgia Tech from 1991-1994. He was born in Michigan on April 11, 1972 but lived in Florida for most of his youth. In his younger years, he played on some highly respected and competitive teams. His 12 and under travel team placed second in the Little League World Series held in South Korea. In high school, his team won a State Championship. He had scholarship offers from the University of Georgia, the University of Florida, and a few other division one schools, but chose Georgia Tech in the end.
Nomar Garciaparra played short stop for Georgia Tech from 1992-1994. Born July 23, 1973 in California, Garciaparra lived with his family until he started college. Sports were a very important part of his childhood. His father was very involved and pushed Garciaparra to be a great athlete. Garciaparra played baseball, soccer, and football, where he showed promise in each of them. But in the end, he stood out the most in baseball. He enrolled at Saint John Bosco for high school because they were well known for having a great baseball program. Soon he had college and professional scouts coming to watch him frequently. When the decision came to choose a school, he chose Georgia Tech over UCLA.
Brad Rigby pitched for Georgia Tech from 1992-1994. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 14, 1973. He grew up with his family in Milwaukee where he first took a liking to baseball. His dad played when he was younger so he taught Rigby everything he knew. Rigby did not start pitching until later in his adolescence because he continued to grow and had a size advantage on most players. He ended up being six feet and six inches tall. His physique enabled him to throw at a high velocity and be a very effective pitcher. Many colleges attempted to recruit him, but of them all, Tech's baseball program was the best fit.
Jay Payton played outfield at Georgia Tech from 1992-1994. He was born November 22, 1972 in Ohio. Growing up, he played football, basketball, and baseball. He played each of them very well. He played on baseball travel teams in the summer and football teams in the fall. He was not quite sure which sport he wanted to pursue most until high school. He realized that his five foot, ten inch tall body would not get him as a good a football scholarship as it could for baseball. So in high school he focused more on baseball. Georgia Tech was his best offer and he took it.
Player Accomplishments at Tech
America’s Baseball Player of the Year (1993)
Three-Time All-American (1992, 1993, 1994)
Most career games played at Tech (253)
Most career base hits at Tech (351)
Most career doubles at Tech (82)
Most career home runs at Tech (57)
Most career RBI’s at Tech (251)
Two Time All-American ( 1993, 1994)
Two Time Academic All-American (1993, 1994)
ACC All-Star (1993)
ACC Freshman of the Year (1992)
First Team All-ACC (1994)
NCAA All-Tournament Team (1994)
Second Team All-ACC (1993)
First Team All-ACC (1994)
Second Team All-American (1994)
National Runner-up Team
Hall of Fame Process
In order to be selected into Georgia Tech’s Athletic Hall of Fame, criteria must be met and the inductee must be prominent enough to earn votes.
1. Limit of only 6 inductees per year. Of the six, a certain sport can have a maximum of two inductees.
2. Standards necessary for Hall of Fame eligibility (need at least one):
- a. National Player or Coach of the Year
- b. National Champion
- c. National Record holder
- d. Olympic Medal winner
- e. First Team All-American
- f. Second or Third Team All-American
- g. Conference Player or Coach of the Year
- h. Conference Champion
- i. First Team All-Conference
- j. Second or Third Team All-American
- k. First team Academic All-American
- l. Four, three, or two sport letter winner
3. The person does not have to have graduated from Georgia Tech (a coach, for example).
4. The person winning the award must have displayed good character on and off the field.
5. Inductees cannot be inducted until at least 10 years after they left Georgia Tech.
6. Potential inductees must receive a 2/3 majority vote from the Hall of Fame Committee.
7. Inductees receive a letter prior to the Hall of Fame Banquet letting them know they made it in. They receive a ring, plaque, and video as a gift.
Professional Careers—there are 30 teams in Professional baseball (the highest level of baseball) and each team has 25 men on the roster. To make it in the Major Leagues, it takes a lot of skill, talent, and knowledge of the game. Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, Brad Rigby, and Jay Payton all had that ability. They all were drafted straight out of college and went on to have successful careers.
Jason Varitek was drafted into the Major Leagues as a Seattle Mariner after graduating from Georgia Tech. After playing a couple years in their Minors program, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox. At Boston, he was called up from the Minors in 1997. His debut was a single at bat. The following year he assumed the role of starting catcher and his career took off from there. A few years into his career he hit some rocky spots where he did not hit well, but in 2004 he helped lead the Red Sox to a World Series win. Since then he has received a Golden Glove Award, a few All-Star selections, and played on the USA National Team. He is still currently playing with the Red Sox.
Nomar Garciaparra was a first round pick out of college to the Boston Red Sox. He played for the Red Sox’s Minor League team for a few years and in 1996, he was called to play in the Majors. He had a great rookie season; his first hit was a homerun. He quickly became the starting shortstop and set many rookie records including RBI’s by a leadoff batter and homeruns for a rookie. Garciaparra was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2004. He played there for two years and had respectable statistics on offense and defense. He then was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a few years. He is currently playing for the Oakland Athletics.
Brad Rigby was drafted out of college to the Oakland Athletics and made his first professional appearance in 1997. After two years in Oakland, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals where he played an additional two years. His last professional team was the Montreal Expos; he played there for a single season before retiring in 2001. In his career he produced respectable numbers. His earned run average (ERA) was about 6.2 for his five years.
Jay Payton was the 29th pick overall in the Major League draft in 1994. He ended up playing for the New York Mets from 1994-2002. Though the Mets gave Payton a lot of chances, he did not play as well as the Mets would have hoped. He was traded to the Colorado Rockies after that. Once in Colorado, his career really started to take off. He had some of his most productive years in Colorado. He currently plays outfield for the Rockies.
Impact on Tech
All four players—Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, Brad Rigby, and Jay Payton—made a tremendous impact on Georgia Tech. What they were able to accomplish with the baseball team was unprecedented at Georgia Tech. Their 1994 season was the best season in the history of Georgia Tech. It was the first time that Georgia Tech had ever made it to the College World Series and marks the farthest the Yellow Jackets have ever gotten in the post-season tournament. Finishing second was an impressive feat. Even though they are not physically at Georgia Tech anymore, the way they are currently playing in the Major Leagues reflects their success at Georgia Tech. This not only reflects their improvments, but also their achievements at Tech. “You have to be disciplined and doing schoolwork [at Tech]…it teaches you a lot about yourself,” Jason Varitek said about the impact Tech made on his life. Each player is fairly well known by most baseball fans all over the world. Not only were they recognized as Hall of Famers because of their talent and abilities, but also because of their lives off the field. Each one of them leads a respectable life—which also correlates to Georgia Tech. All their accomplishments as individuals and together as a team make them deserving of recognition. It is a rare occurrence that four Hall of Fame players were on the same team at the same time, and an even rarer thing what they accomplished together.
- ↑ http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c8/Russ_Chandler_Stadium.jpg/300px-Russ_Chandler_Stadium.jpg&imgrefurl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russ_Chandler_Stadium&usg=__UxJ1Sy-1UzrRNmbXKmB5nOT6ipA=&h=252&w=300&sz=32&hl=en&start=0&sig2=1eV4ddpdA214d-W_uI5NGQ&zoom=1&tbnid=Di2rSYr4zR7jgM:&tbnh=148&tbnw=155&ei=gO_-TKlRgfvwBo_-0PQH&prev=/images%3Fq%3Druss%2Bchandler%2Bstadium%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1276%26bih%3D587%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=129&vpy=79&dur=40&hovh=201&hovw=240&tx=114&ty=133&oei=gO_-TKlRgfvwBo_-0PQH&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=16&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0
- ↑ (30 September 2010). In Technique Retrieved September 30, 2010 http://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/1853/7890/5/sports-2005-04-15.pdf
- ↑ http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://0.tqn.com/d/baseball/1/0/4/B/-/-/jasonvaritekwherenow.jpg&imgrefurl=http://baseball.about.com/od/olympicbaseball/tp/baseballwherenow.htm&usg=__HsV3XoOFXOunIk5fcjR0IpP47kU=&h=594&w=404&sz=32&hl=en&start=0&sig2=QIzzE4nEmc_kfESAYOkcQw&zoom=1&tbnid=u0YnbvpBrbrK0M:&tbnh=130&tbnw=103&ei=TfD-TPOuG4P_8Aa00tnaBw&prev=/images%3Fq%3Djason%2Bvaritek%2Bgeorgia%2Btech%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1276%26bih%3D587%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1&itbs=1&iact=rc&dur=5958&oei=J_D-TND-AsOC8gbKtJD1Bw&esq=5&page=1&ndsp=22&ved=1t:429,r:18,s:0&tx=43&ty=29
- ↑ http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://graphics.fansonly.com/photos/schools/geot/sports/m-basebl/auto_action/a-nomar94.jpg&imgrefurl=http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/111402aaa.html&usg=__A1HZwoNmLr6PGYncCvicGGqFgxk=&h=231&w=150&sz=7&hl=en&start=0&sig2=CLNBcNF9_c4J1AcSgvbJ6w&zoom=1&tbnid=crPFuwmXLV6SwM:&tbnh=123&tbnw=82&ei=oPD-TLSTH4H_8Aaa8JD6Bw&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dnomar%2Bgarciaparra%2Bgeorgia%2Btech%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1276%26bih%3D587%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=1011&vpy=178&dur=50&hovh=184&hovw=120&tx=75&ty=77&oei=oPD-TLSTH4H_8Aaa8JD6Bw&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=28&ved=1t:429,r:8,s:0
- ↑ http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/geot/galleries/2006_GT_Sports_Hall_of_Fame/rigby4-lg.jpg&imgrefurl=http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/genrel/063006aag.html%3Fpic%3D7&usg=__nLbBYAGpwewzrweQYvoWgWaYgCQ=&h=636&w=450&sz=34&hl=en&start=0&sig2=-AuFVmdO4RnamY6vORtjpw&zoom=0&tbnid=ImjORdikbpxbFM:&tbnh=137&tbnw=97&ei=9_D-TNO4NIO78ga2_bXyBw&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbrad%2Brigby%2Bgeorgia%2Btech%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1276%26bih%3D587%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=135&vpy=263&dur=892&hovh=137&hovw=97&tx=117&ty=36&oei=9_D-TNO4NIO78ga2_bXyBw&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=23&ved=1t:429,r:8,s:0
- ↑ http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/geot/galleries/05hofpayton/payton1.jpg&imgrefurl=http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/genrel/gallery_index_2005-06_2.html&usg=__D3_lXkWxvxNqP8o4_ZlQJOmf4i0=&h=179&w=150&sz=6&hl=en&start=0&sig2=KOKlpiyUA4dzOytj1-fVqQ&zoom=0&tbnid=mK7_wkA_EKA28M:&tbnh=101&tbnw=85&ei=XvH-TMWaPIL98AbqwYj4Bw&prev=/images%3Fq%3Djay%2Bpayton%2Bgeorgia%2Btech%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1276%26bih%3D587%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=940&vpy=292&dur=1434&hovh=101&hovw=85&tx=74&ty=54&oei=XvH-TMWaPIL98AbqwYj4Bw&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=23&ved=1t:429,r:13,s:0
- ↑ . (30 September 2010). In GT Athletics Retrieved September 3, 2010 fromhttp://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/ot/fame/selection-procedures.html
- ↑ (29 September 2010) In "Technique Newsletter August 29 2003" Retrieved September 29, 2010 from http://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/1853/7910/5/sports-2003-08-29.pdf
- ↑ (20 October 2010) In "Jason Varitek Bio" Retrieved October 20,2010 from http://www.jason-varitek.com/biography.htm
- ↑ (20 October 2010) In "Wikipedia" Retrieved October 20, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomar_Garciaparra
- ↑ (20 October 2010) In "Wikipedia" Retrieved October 20,2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Payton
- ↑ (1 0ctober 2010) In "Technique." Retrieved October 1, 2010 from http://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/1853/7777/5/sports-2004-07-09.pdf