Diamond Notes: My Fate

Goals, Injuries and Reality

By: Richard Magrath-August 28, 2007

Once a Tiger, always a Tiger. For my entire life I have worn orange, loved orange and bled orange. I have this desire, a cancer if you will, that engrosses my life and there is nothing that I can do about it. I tried to hide from it when I signed to play baseball at Furman University, but the illusion that tried to sustain me was to no avail. I wanted to be a Tiger even if I have to overcome some adversity to do it.

The thought of playing college baseball had not crossed my mind until the end of my junior year. Without the benefit of Diamond Prospects, I was virtually an unknown until my last game that season at Summerville. Somebody saw a raw pitcher with a live, strong arm and a developing curveball and mentioned it to Coach John Rhodes of the Diamond Devils. Before I knew it, I was playing on one of the best teams in the country with the likes of Justin Smoak and Reese Havens. 

Although I felt a little overwhelmed, I had a very good summer and came to the realization that I could hold my own collegiately. The exciting summer culminated when I pitched a complete game shutout in the first elimination game of the CABA World Series. A day later, I jumped on top of the pile to celebrate a World Series Championship.

Meanwhile in the recruiting process, my stock had risen a great deal due to a productive summer. Coaches from Clemson, South Carolina, Furman, the College of Charleston and The Citadel came to watch me pitch on several occasions. The Citadel and Furman offered first with Clemson and C of C regularly keeping in touch.

Growing up a Tiger, Clemson obviously was my first choice. However, the recruiting process started to become very stressful, and I wanted to go ahead and make a decision. Shortly after going on a visit to Furman, I felt that was the best fit for me athletically and academically. I shunned the possibility of other offers and prepared myself to be a Paladin.

With the scout following that playing on a premier travel team brought me, pro scouts started showing interest via questionnaires during the winter of my senior year. About twenty teams requested correspondence and the Mets even sent me a Christmas card. I was completely overwhelmed by the influx of interest from Major League teams. I made it clear through the questionnaires that I was adamant about attending college. Nonetheless, fifteen pro scouts were in attendance for my first high school game my senior year. Unfortunately, I didn’t see them again and went undrafted that June. However, I felt the added attention that I received from scouts was somewhat warranted. For the first time in my baseball career, I became confident that I could play the game I love, well.

When I reported to Furman University for my freshman year, I had one goal in mind: to be in the weekend rotation when we opened up with the University of Kentucky. This dream began evolving into a reality through fall practice as I had a lot of success. I was progressing towards being a pitcher as opposed to a thrower. The game began to be more mental as I learned the little things of being a pitcher. I started watching for batter tendencies and ways to exploit those weaknesses. For the first time in my young career, I had a plan when I toed the rubber. Everything seemed to be falling into place for me, and I appeared to be set for a breakthrough freshman year.

After winter break, I came back to Furman in great shape and primed to win one of the weekend starting jobs. During our second intra-squad scrimmage I overextended on a pitch and felt a pinch that did not feel right. I knew that if I mentioned it to my coach or trainer that my starting position would be put in jeopardy. Every time I threw, I was cognizant of a pain in my shoulder but self-diagnosed it as tendonitis. The pressure I put on myself to perform now outweighed the possible repercussions later.

I ended up nailing down the weekend position and pitched in three games at the beginning of the year. My pitching performances were mediocre at best and I could feel my shoulder gradually becoming worse. I had lost velocity, command and effectiveness-not a good recipe for success in college baseball. After laboring through four innings and giving up three home runs at Davidson, I shut it down. I tried rehabbing for about two months to no avail. Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Alabama performed an arthroscopy of my shoulder to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in May.

Although there was no determining factor that led me to leaving Furman, I decided to go ahead and make the switch to Clemson. I made the switch in hopes of playing baseball, but I realize that there are many variables that could ruin my plans. As of now, I have not been granted an athletic release from Furman. However, if a release remains ungranted, I will treat it as a blessing in disguise and, I will not rush back, and jeopardize the recovery of my arm. 

My goal is to play baseball for Clemson University. I do not know what the future holds, but I will do everything in my power to achieve my goal. For now, I will be standing in Death Valley Memorial Stadium with 86,000 of my closest friends to root on my Tigers.