A celebration of the past and a preview of the future kicked off the 2014 baseball season, as TCU players, coaches and supporters gathered for the 11th annual First Pitch Banquet at the Omni Hotel.
Those in attendance had the opportunity to get a preview of the 2014 baseball team. This included a short teaser of the team’s intro video, a roll call of the 2014 team and an announcement of the 2013 TCU baseball award winners.
“It’s awesome to get exposure through this huge, glorious event,” said TCU right fielder Dylan Fitzgerald. “Couldn’t ask for more.”
The 1994 and 2004 TCU baseball teams were also recognized for their achievements while on campus at TCU. The ’94 team was Southwest Conference Champions, the school’s first outright conference title since 1956. Then-head coach Lance Brown and alum Brad Wallace spoke on behalf of the ’94 squad.
“The ’94 team was a group that loved to play baseball,” Brown said. “It was just a fun group to be around.”
Current head coach Jim Schlossnagle and former relief pitcher Ryan Weems took to the podium to represent the ’04 team, which won the Conference USA Tournament Championship and clinched TCU’s first postseason appearance in ten years.
“It’s really cool to look back and see what TCU baseball has done since then,” Weems said. “It stems back from some of the things Coach Brown did into the transition to Coach Schlossnagle.”
Nomar Garciaparra, former MLB player and current ESPN analyst, was the guest speaker.
Garciaparra, who was on the air for ESPN during TCU’s Super Regional victory over Texas in 2010, said he became a fan of TCU because of the Frogs’ playing style.
“They had tremendous leadership. And it wasn’t the superstar player, either, that’s not what it takes,” Garciaparra said. “They had guys who understood their role on the team.”
Garciaparra said Schlossnagle’s drive to win and care for his players is what makes the program successful.
“First and foremost, he cares. He cares about his players, cares about the game, and loves to win,” Garciaparra said.
Garciaparra said that both quality coaching and different styles of play are what makes college baseball a different type of dynamic than the MLB.
“Some schools are focused on hitting the long ball, while others are looking to play the game 90 feet at a time,” Garciaparra said.
Garciaparra said he has two words of advice for current TCU players.
“Embrace it,” he said.