Jeff Baker’s Answers To Ask The Tigers

Jeff Baker’s Answers To Ask The Tigers

May 25, 2000

Cheryl C. Stevens, Seneca, S.C. First of all, I would like to congratulate the entire team and wish you continued success on the road to Omaha! Jeff, my question to you is what was the single most important contribution your parents made to help you achieve your goals, both athletic and otherwise?

Jeff Baker’s Answer My parents have been the greatest mother and father, best friends, and supporters I could have ever asked for. The beliefs and values they instilled in me at a young age were probably some of the greatest lessons I have learned to be successful not only in baseball but in life.

Rebecca A. Tseretia, Richmond, Va. Hey Jeff! Let me just say first that I think you’re an awesome shortstop and I love to watch you play baseball…. but I just have one question…. Do you have a girlfriend? I’m not the only one that wants to know this, just to tell you, so do you?? Thanks Jeff. Becca

Jeff Baker’s Answer Well Rebecca to answer your question, yes I do have a girlfriend and we have been together for almost a year and a half now.

Elizabeth Barnum, Columbia, S.C. First, do you regret at all your decision to come to Clemson and not go straight into the major leagues? Secondly, what role do you think you hold coming in as a freshman and leading the team in batting average?

Jeff Baker’s Answer Elizabeth, I can honestly say that I have no regrets whatsoever about coming to school and not going to professional baseball. I have enjoyed the season, the players and coaches and the experience to carry on the rich Clemson Tiger tradition. My role on the team is similar to everyone else’s role on the team. I play hard, compete and try to help put the team in a situation to help win some ballgames. The individual stats that come along with the game of baseball is all secondary to helping the team win. Whether or not you lead the club in hitting or are last in hitting the main thing is doing what it takes to help the team win.

Gary Deperini, Alexandria, Va. Jeff, how hard was it to get used to college life? Do you think you will stay in school or leave early to play pro? Best of luck, tell your mom hello, and does she still have that cow bell? (Woodbridge Little League)

Jeff Baker’s Answer Mr. Deperini, hope everything is going well back home with you and your family and I just wanted to tell you how much fun I had during those great days of W.L.L!!!! Yes, my Mother still does have the good ole cow bell but it seems with each year I get a little older the cow bell goes farther and farther to the back of the closet (which is not a problem with me at all!!) Adjusting to college life was and is not as hard as many people make it out to be. Sure, for the first couple of weeks, you miss your friends and family and the routine of high school you had become so accustomed. But after those first couple of painful weeks, you start making new friends and get yourself a new routine and the phone calls home to Mom and Dad become less frequent. You start to realize how much fun and what an opportunity you have by attending college. As far as leaving school early to go to the pros, I plan on enjoying one year at a time.

Robert Garrett, Piedmont, S.C. Glad you are a Tiger!!! My question is this!! When Ryan Mottl pitches what kind of pitch is a fosh? Never heard of it.

Jeff Baker’s Answer That’s a good question when I first got here I asked the same question and I still don’t know. I am just glad I don’t have to hit against it!

Tommy Thain, Jr., Lexington S.C. Will you be well for the Regional? I pray you will be! WE NEED YOU !!!

Jeff Baker’s Answer Thank you for your support and prayers, Mr. Thain. I should be at 100% for the first regional game vs. Middle Tennessee. My calf is slowly getting better each day, I really owe a lot to our trainer Jeff Bodenhamer, who has basically been my shadow for the last two weeks spending all sorts of time doing treatment on my calf for which I am very appreciative.

Kevin Blackmon, West Columbia, S.C. As an all-region, all-state player and a national high school All-American from the state of Virginia what attracted you to Clemson U. and how do you see this Clemson team doing in the postseason? Also, I am very impressed with your abilities as a freshman and look forward to seeing you set records in the future with Clemson University. Go Tigers!

Jeff Baker’s Answer The things that attracted me to Clemson was the style of aggressive play, the great tradition, the great coaches, and the fan support. Clemson fans are the greatest! In Virginia, there were not too many schools that could offer all of these things plus nice weather almost year round to create the great baseball environment that is offered at Clemson.

Lucy Cutter, Walhalla, S.C. My friends and I are huge Tiger baseball fans. We were wondering, what exactly is the “players lounge” at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, and if it is open to the public?

Jeff Baker’s Answer The players’ lounge is a large room with a big screen TV with many sofas around it. The lounge also has a ping pong table and two pool tables for the Tiger players to enjoy in our free time. Also the players’ lounge serves as almost a trophy room for all the great achievements by teams and players over the years. There are pictures and trophy cases on the walls and in each corner. Sorry, but as of right now the lounge is only for Tiger players and coaches.

Brian Bunton, Clemson, S.C. I’ve been a fan of Clemson baseball ever since I can remember, and I’m very pleased that you decided to join it. You’ve been a valuable asset to the club. What I want to know is, what have you liked best about your first year at Clemson? My friends and I look forward to cheering you on at the Regionals, where we hope you’ll be able to get back in at shortstop. Go Tigers!

Jeff Baker’s Answer The thing that I have enjoyed and liked the most about the year so far is the excitement gearing up to regionals now and that all the hard work we have put in during the fall season and the regular season is being rewarded with being able to play and host a regional in Clemson in front of all our fans. Thanks for your support at the games.

Thomas Wyatt, Westminster, S.C. Was there a lot of pressure coming in as a freshman and put in the position where you had to bat clean-up and start at shortstop?

Jeff Baker’s Answer Yes, there was some pressure coming in and playing short and hitting in the middle of the lineup as a freshman. The thing that eased all of that pressure was the support of my teammates and the coaches and them treating me as another member of the team who is trying to do what it takes to help the team win and not looking at you as a lowly freshman.

Gerry Bohm, Roseland, N.J. How are you dealing with not being 100% and will you be better before the regionals? My son is a high school shortstop. How did you train during the off-season in order to be in position to be recruited?

Jeff Baker’s Answer Dealing with my injury has been tough. I never had any injuries in the past that forced me to miss a game because of my injury. It was difficult at first to just take the time off needed to help heal my leg because the competitive spirit in you wants to be out there for every play no matter who you are playing. I hope with all the treatment I should be healthy for the regional this Friday. In Virginia, as it probably is in N.J., it gets rather cold and nasty at times in the winter. I was fortunate enough to have an indoor baseball facility that I used to hit and throw at daily. I definitely felt that the off season was the best time to help make myself a better baseball player. I would do numerous hitting drills and defensive drills to improve my skills. The main thing that I wish I would have done more of would have been strength and flexibility exercises. You don’t realize how important those two things are until you get to college and the whole speed of the game picks up and you must do the same to continue to be successful.

Matt Frazier, Piedmont, S.C. I myself am a shortstop in high school, and I was wondering is it a big jump from high school competition to college?

Jeff Baker’s Answer Matt, just like middle school to high school there was an adjustment period that everyone must go through. When you first get to the collegiate level, you take a little time getting used to the faster paced game and everything that goes along with it. But once you get used to it, you don’t even realize you are at the college level. You just realize you are playing baseball and having a blast while doing so.

Bill Clendaniel, Woodbridge, Va. What has been the biggest adjustment from H.S. baseball to top level collegiate competition? And…any advice for the high school player with Division I aspirations.

Jeff Baker’s Answer Well, Mr. Clendaniel the biggest adjustment for me was the overall pace of the game. The whole game is much faster once you get to college. You must make quicker decisions and actions at the college level where at high school you had much more time to do so. My only advice to a high school player would be to work as hard as can in order to have a chance to go to the level you want. If you want to go far in baseball you can only get there through endless hours of hard work. There are no short cuts in the game of baseball. Also I would advise players to seek out coaches like yourself who have such a unique and clear way of getting their messages across to the players.

Greg Sears, Greenwood S.C. First of all I would like to congratulate you on an excellent freshman season. I was wondering with such a high draft choice what reason justified you staying in school? Well good luck with the rest of the season. And we expect great things from you in the years to come.

Jeff Baker’s Answer The main reason I wanted to come to school was to get an education and play college baseball at a school that each year has a chance for a national title. Also there is another opportunity down the road to possibly play pro ball where as college is a one time shot as an 18 year old. I wanted to come to college to experience the college atmosphere and to meet friends that will “last a lifetime”.

John Trammel, Winston-Salem, N.C. I was truly shocked to find no Clemson team member on the first-team All-ACC squad. Is the team using this as a motivational factor to prove itself and will it be a factor as the Tigers strive to reach Omaha?

Jeff Baker’s Answer The All-ACC team is a very tough accolade to earn. There are so many great players in the ACC that many are deserving but only a few can be rewarded. I don’t think anyone on our team is upset at the selections because each of us know how tough it is to make the selections and chose a handful of players out of the whole league. I think we will remember how much hard work everyone has put into the program. Our best motivation is our goal to go to Omaha and win the College World Series.