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BAILEY'S TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS

From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, February 1, 2012

By Brian Bailey

Younger inherits mantle of honor

Timothy Younger
(ECU SID image)
 

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By Brian Bailey
©2012 Bonesville.net
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It is annually one of the biggest days of the East Carolina baseball season. “Meet the Pirates” isn’t just about previewing the season, getting some autographs and enjoying a nice lunch.

The highlight of the event is the official announcement of which Pirate baseball player will wear the number 23 jersey to honor the memory of former ECU coach Keith LeClair.

LeClair guided the Pirates to a home series in Kinston with Tennessee in the NCAA Super-Regionals in 2002. Shortly thereafter LeClair would step down as the head coach at ECU and begin his four year battle with ALS.

I will never forget LeClair’s words during the postgame after that second loss to the Volunteers. Knowing that he was ill, he vowed that East Carolina would someday make that next step. That next step would take the program to Omaha and the College World Series.

“We will make it to Omaha, I can guarantee you that,” said LeClair after that loss to Tennessee in 2002.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

East Carolina baseball has always been a tight knit group. I arrived in Greenville at the start of Gary Overton’s career as the ECU coach, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my “job” covering Pirate baseball every year.

When Billy Godwin took over as head coach, one of his first thoughts was that it was very important to keep LeClair’s legacy alive within the program.

Infielder Tim Younger will wear the 23 jersey this season. Younger is the ninth Pirate to wear the number 23 to honor LeClair.

"This is an unbelievable honor and one that I had never dreamed of when I first stepped on campus back in August of 2010," said Younger. "I've been fortunate to be around Austin (Homan), Brian (Cavanaugh) and the coaching staff the last year and a half and have seen first-hand what this award means to them and the Pirate Nation. I can only hope to follow in the footsteps of such great mentors and friends and look forward to carrying on Coach LeClair's legacy."

Austin Homan’s two year run ended with his graduation. Homan is now the Director of Baseball Operations with the program.  Homan and Younger were roommates last season.

“There’s not a day that goes by that he (Younger) doesn’t lead by example,” said Homan. “(He does it) on the field with his hustle, in the weight room with his perseverance and in the locker room with his relationships.”

Younger was the best candidate in a crowded field to wear 23 this season.

"Timothy has only been in our program for a year and a half and for him to receive this honor and all it stands for says enough about his character," said Godwin at Saturday’s event. "He has earned the respect of his teammates, has a tremendous work ethic and pride, leads everyday by example and that embodies what wearing No. 23 is all about."

Younger is the seventh senior and the ninth Pirate to wear the honorary No. 23 jersey. The list of honorees is a “who’s who” of great players with outstanding work ethics and moral fibers.

Ben Sanderson was the first to wear No. 23 in 2003. He was followed by Jamie Paige in 2004, Brian Cavanaugh in 2005, Adam Witter in 2006, Chris Powell in 2007, Drew Schieber in 2008, Brandon Henderson in 2009 and Homan the last two seasons.

On a side note, I’d like to once again thank the members of the Pitt-Greenville Hot Stove League. That organization named me as the “Individual Contributor of the Year." It is one of four prestigious awards that the Pitt-Greenville Hot Stove League presents each year.

I bring it up because I was presented the award in the 23rd year of the event. East Carolina’s Billy Godwin was the guest speaker and it was a tremendous honor for me, especially knowing that this was the 23rd year of the event. The number 23 means so much too so many in and around East Carolina baseball.

I got the feeling that number 23 was looking down as well! I know he’ll be watching when the Pirates open the season on February 17th hosting the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

[View East Carolina's 2012 baseball schedule from ECU Media Relations in a new window.]

BB

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02/01/2012 03:11 AM

 
 

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