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Nov 23, 2022

Chad Fairey at Clemson: Generations in the Making

By: Chris Perry

The following appears in the October edition of Orange: The Experience.

Clemson and baseball.

Both run deep in Chad Fairey’s family. From his great grandparents to his grandparents, uncle and his parents, the Fairey family has always maintained a close tie to the Clemson family.

Fairey grew up in Greenwood, S.C., about 55 miles from Clemson. He is no stranger to the university, however, as his grandparents have lived in Clemson during Fairey’s entire life.

“My grandparents live on Lake Hartwell right above the Esso Club, so I would always come up to their house for baseball games, football games, hang out and walk through downtown, even as a little kid.”

It is safe to say that Clemson and baseball have been in Fairey’s blood long before he was born. His father played baseball at Western Carolina under former Clemson Head Coach Jack Leggett. During his father’s time there, the team went to two regionals.

Fairey’s father put up great numbers at Western Carolina during his career, earning the prestigious title of All-American. His uncle, Burke, played baseball at Clemson from 1985-88.

His grandfather, Jim, played six MLB seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Montreal Expos. His great grandmother was a history professor at Clemson. His great grandfather was the Dean of Admissions at Clemson. His grandmother graduated with her master’s degree from Clemson.

“Growing up with my dad and granddad, both being pretty heavily invested in baseball, it’s been fun having their brains to pick about different things, to talk to them about baseball and Clemson, but it’s always been baseball or the highway since I was three years old.”

Fairey attended Ninety Six High School, a AA school in Greenwood, where he played both football and baseball. He lettered four times in baseball and two times in football. His graduating class was only 114 students, which made it a little more challenging for him to get recruiting looks. But that did not stop Fairey from working towards his dream.

During his sophomore football season, Fairey was invited to play baseball for a club team in the Black Bear Classic Tournament. The tourney happened to be played in Clemson. Fairey was so eager to get up and perform his best that he skipped his football game to take batting practice at Clemson.

“That was probably to this day the best round of ‘BP’ I have taken, so it’s a good thing I decided to do so.”

The next day, Fairey’s team knocked off a talented national team. Fairey had a stellar game, and the Tiger coaches noticed. He was immediately shown around campus and then offered a scholarship to play baseball at Clemson.

“I remember the excitement that came over me. From that point on, it was really pedal to the metal. I realized I had the opportunity to live out a dream, and I wanted to make the most of it.”

Fairey is entering his fifth season with the program. He, like many other players around the country, received a redshirt in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The two-time ACC Academic Honor Roll member also redshirted in 2021 while recovering from an injury.

When asked about what he still hopes to get out of a fifth year at Clemson, Fairey responded with excitement.

“I’ve been living the dream these past four years. I call Clemson home, more than my home in Greenwood, just because of the atmosphere up here. It’s as close to heaven as you can get in South Carolina. It’s on the lake with a beautiful campus and great people.

“I really decided to come back for my fifth year because I believe there is more in the tank for me, not only on the field, but off the field as well. I’m looking to do more in the community and network with people around here, because one day, I want to live in Clemson and raise a family here.”

Reflecting on his time at Clemson, Fairey credited a lot of his success to the relationship he has with his father, Clint.

“My dad and I are extremely close. I grew up wanting to play baseball and be a part of this program. Fortunately, it came to fruition. I got to see my dreams come. As soon as I got my offer and when I first committed, I knew that was something where he was just as proud as I was.

“I definitely see him as an inspiration. His on-the-field accolades make me proud, and I know me playing here at Clemson makes him proud.”

The Fairey family has already made a lasting impact on Clemson and the community. Now in Fairey’s fifth year, and possibly his final year, he is looking to leave his own legacy.