Friday, February 8, 2008

A few college notes

I've still got school on the brain after a big win from my alma mater on Wednesday, so here are a few college-related items that I found of interest:

*A lot of people enjoy rooting against Duke. I can certainly understand the impulse, but I'm always kind of saddened when people from Pittsburgh do so, because there are actually several fairly significant connections between the school and the city. One, obviously, is Dick Groat: a Duke hoops star turned Pirate shortstop MVP turned Pitt broadcaster. Another one who might not be as well known, though, is Tom Butters.

Signed by the Pirates out of Ohio Wesleyan in 1957, Butters put up a 3.10 ERA over 95 2/3 innings for the Bucs in parts of four seasons during the 1960s (stats), mostly in relief. After his playing career was ended by an offseason car accident, he won a job as the Blue Devils' baseball coach - largely as result of a recommendation from Groat, the school's initial target. He transferred into an administrative role in the athletic department after three seasons, and worked his way up through the ranks until he became Duke's athletic director in 1977. Butters was the man who selected and hired Mike Krzyzewski, then bore the brunt of alumni wrath during Coach K's difficult first few years. It's safe to say that without the two ex-Pirates, Groat and Butters, the Duke dynasty likely never would have happened.

Butters retired in 1998, and last week he was one of eight men selected to the North Carolina Hall of Fame.

*Xavier Nady's cousin scored a football scholarship with Nevada. Jeff Nady, a 6'7", 250 pound TE/DL, chose Nevada despite interest from Colorado State, UNLV, Idaho and San Jose State. The report is kind of a neat little news blurb in and of itself, and we certainly wish Jay well, but one section of it is also useful as an indicator of the type of athletic bloodline from which a lot of pro ballplayers spring. For example, the X-Man's uncle Joe (little Jay's father) played baseball at Nevada, and his uncle Jay earned a spot in Nevada's Hall of Fame for both football and boxing, then became a fairly notable boxing referee. Talent breeds talent, though the exact ratio of nature to nurture will probably always be up for debate.

*Another week, another report from a small-town paper about a kid the Pirates are apparently scouting. The internet is awesome. Last time, it was Xavier Avery. This time, the player in question is Division III North Carolina Wesleyan outfielder Chris Pecora. Pecora is apparently a switch-hitting senior, listed at 6'2" and 200 lbs., with speed and defense being his best attributes at this point. The Mariners drafted him in the 33rd round last year, but pulled their offer after they learned that he had some damage to the rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. Pecora says that the shoulder is about 85% healthy now after rehab (he elected not to have surgery).

As I said before with Avery, the odds of us ending up with Pecora are actually pretty slim (Atlanta and Tampa Bay are both reported as scouting him, too, in the same article, and there's plenty of time yet for other teams to get involved as well), but it's worth filing the name away, just in case.


hyzduhq said...

I would not rule out Pecora as he has shoulder issues. We all know that we just love guys with that on their resume.

Vlad said...

Torn cuff is bad news, but if it's a small tear, he might still have enough arm to stay in CF (which is where it sounds like his skill set belongs right now).