Mitchell Boggs, P, St. Louis Cardinals
Diamond Dogs hold First Pitch Gala, readying for 2012 campaignBy ROBBIE OTTLEY on January 30, 2012
From Red and Black
With 22 returning lettermen, including eight returning position players, the Georgia baseball team has launched headlong into practice for another season, which begins in just two weeks.
And Georgia head coach David Perno “feel[s] pretty good” about this year’s baseball team, he said Friday night.
Speaking at the Diamond Dogs’ First Pitch Gala, Perno credited the courage and inspiration of Chance Veazey and Johnathan Taylor, whose injuries in the last two seasons took them off the field for good.
“There’s only… two things that I would change through the years, and it’s the two injuries,” he said. “Anything we get this year is gonna be a direct result of them.”
Perno also mentioned that the team’s academic average remained about 3.0, right in the sweet spot for the coach.
“I don’t want to get too good academically,” Perno said, as the crowd laughed. “Sometimes you get too many smart people and they’re too smart for their own good.”
The night’s featured speaker was Mitchell Boggs, who departed Georgia in 2005 for the major leagues.
Last season, he was a relief pitcher for the world champion St. Louis Cardinals, posting a 3.56 ERA in 51 appearances.Boggs remembered the value of returning to Georgia after departing to play football at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
“[Tennessee] wasn’t the experience I wanted it to be, but it certainly was the experience I needed it to be,” Boggs said. “For Coach Perno to keep that door open for me and to make sure that I knew he still cared about me and wanted me to be a part of this team, I’ll be thankful for that forever.”
Boggs credited the Cardinals’ postseason success at least partially to the Atlanta Braves, who entered last September with an 8 ½ game lead in the wildcard race but were edged out for the spot by the Cardinals on the last game of the season.
“We had a team meeting, and basically it was… be a professional, show up every day, play hard,” he said. “What an incredible experience it was for me.”
Like his former coach, Boggs singled out Veazey and Taylor as teaching important life lessons to their teammates.
“They understand there are bigger things in life, and we all should,” Boggs said. “But at the same time they get the opportunity to go out and to play baseball every single day.”
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity also spoke at the gala, discussing potential renovations to Georgia’s Foley Field.
The athletic board will discuss a plan for renovations in May, and McGarity will put Foley Field “probably at the top of the list” of facility improvements.
“I don’t think there’s a better setting in all of college baseball, but old Foley Field needs some work,” McGarity said.