August 10, 2011
CBI Unveils Tom Walter College
Baseball Inspiration Award
the first pitch of the 2011 college baseball season, Wake Forest
coach Tom Walter registered a save.
After an early-season practice, Walter surprised
his team when he told his Demon Deacons that he was going to
donate a kidney to freshman outfielder Kevin Jordan. A week
later, Walter underwent surgery to remove his kidney, which was
transplanted to Jordan.
Today, CollegeBaseballInsider.com introduces the
Tom Walter College Baseball Inspiration Award by honoring the
Wake Forest coach as its first recipient. The award will
recognize examples of inspiration in college baseball.
are countless inspirational stories in college baseball each
year, but no gesture in our 10 seasons of coverage captivated us
as much as what Tom Walter did for Kevin Jordan,” said Sean
Ryan, co-founder of CollegeBaseballInsider.com. “We think this
is the perfect way to honor college baseball players and coaches
who inspire us off the baseball diamond.”
A 1991 graduate of Georgetown, Walter just
completed his second season at WFU and his 15th as a Division I
head coach. He spent five seasons at New Orleans after leading
George Washington for eight years. His career mark is 469-396,
averaging more than 31 wins per season.
“This is a tremendous
honor for me,” Walter said. “The guys at CBI are first-class
ambassadors for college baseball and to be recognized by them
means a great deal to me personally. Each and every year there
are several incredible acts of heroism, courage and generosity.
This award will provide a national platform to honor those
amazing individuals who are responsible.”
Walter this year are Georgia outfielder Johnathan Taylor (left)
and Arizona State outfielder Cory Hahn, both of whom were
paralyzed during games this season, and Bayler Teal, a
7-year-old boy whose battle with cancer inspired 2010 and 2011
national champion South Carolina.
Taylor was injured attempting to make a diving
catch on March 6. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers - former
Kennesaw State assistant Ryan Coe pitched the idea to the
Rangers’ front office - and plans on returning to Georgia to
finish his degree and continue his rehabilitation.
(right) suffered his injury while stealing second base on Feb.
20 and as he lay motionless on the bag reportedly told his
coaches, “Damn right, I’m safe.” His father Dale quit his job to
take Cory to physical therapy several days a week.
“Johnathan Taylor and Cory Hahn were special
players on the field, and they continue to inspire us in how
they’ve dealt with their injuries,” said Phil Stanton,
co-founder of CollegeBaseballInsider.com.
was diagnosed with a form of cancer in 2008 and the Gamecocks
adopted his family for Christmas that year. As his health
deteriorated in 2010, South Carolina vowed to play for Teal, who
lost his fight about the same time the Gamecocks were rallying
against Oklahoma in the College World Series. His memory
inspired South Carolina again in 2011, when the Gamecocks won
their second national title in as many years.
“The touching story of the Gamecocks befriending
the Teal family and playing in honor of Bayler is one that will
be with us for a long time,” Stanton said.
The Tom Walter College Baseball Inspiration Award
will be given annually by CollegeBaseballInsider.com to Division
I coaches, assistants, student-athletes and anyone else who
inspires with their off-the-field impact and accomplishments.
(photos courtesy of Media Relations Office, front page shot by
Brian Westerholt of Sports On Film)