EAST LANSING, Mich. – A crowd of more than 500 attended the eighth annual Michigan State Baseball First Pitch Dinner Sunday afternoon at the Kellogg Center on the campus of MSU.
The program honored Tom Yewcic as the 2013 Spartan Baseball Alumnus of the Year and also featured a keynote speech from Lansing native John Smoltz.
Yewcic became just the third player and the fifth Spartan in program history to have his jersey number (No. 5) honored, joining Kirk Gibson (No. 30) and Hall of Famer Robin Roberts (No. 36), along with Spartan coaching legends John Kobs (No. 25) and Danny Litwhiler (No. 1). Yewcic’s number will now be adorned on the right-field fence at McLane Baseball Stadium.
Yewcic was a football and baseball All-American at Michigan State, and was named the Most Outstanding Player in the 1954 College World Series.
“It’s very exciting,” said Yewcic, who is the 12th recipient of the Michigan State Baseball Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award. “It’s a great tribute, and I really appreciate it. We had the best teammates you could ever have.”
Smoltz nearly played baseball at Michigan State before signing a professional contract out of high school with the Detroit Tigers in 1985. He went on to a stellar 21-year career in the major leagues in which he earned all-star honors eight times and won the 1996 Cy Young Award.
“I’ve always considered myself a Spartan,” said Smoltz, who is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history to record 200 wins and 150 saves. “From afar, I’ve kept a keen eye (on the program). I’ve known Jake Boss ever since he took the job. I had played against his dad at Everett and all of the schools in the CAC. Part of my talk is coming full circle, and for this program, the Boss’, and for me, it’s all kind of an intertwined connection. I’m happy for him. They won a Big Ten Championship, they got into the NCAAs – those are all great signs.”
The Michigan State baseball team opens the 2013 season Friday, Feb. 15 against Miami-Ohio in Greenville, S.C.
PREVIOUS MSU BASEBALL DISTINGUISHED AWARD WINNERS:
2002 – Robin Roberts
2003 – Danny Litwhiler
2004 – John Kobs
2005 – Jerry Sutton
2006 – Dick Radatz
2007 – Dale Petroskey
2008 – Drayton McLane
2009 – Steve Garvey
2010 – Ron Perranoski
2011 – Jim Cotter
2012 – Earl Morrall