August 16, 2012
Finalists named for Tom Walter
nominations from NCAA Division I programs, the finalists are set
for the second annual Tom Walter College Baseball Inspiration
Award. The award recognizes examples of inspiration in college
The award is named for Tom Walter (left), the
head coach at Wake Forest who donated a kidney to freshman
outfielder Kevin Jordan prior to the 2011 season.
Also recognized a year ago were Georgia
outfielder Johnathan Taylor and Arizona State outfielder Cory
Hahn, both of whom were paralyzed during games in the 2011
season, and Bayler Teal, a 7-year-old boy whose battle with
cancer inspired 2010 and 2011 national champion South Carolina.
Click here for full release of 2011 recipients.
The 2012 award winners will be announced on
Hunter Brister - Western Carolina
Brister, a junior pitcher for the Catamounts,
assisted neighbors in his hometown of Pleasant Grove, Ala.,
following a series of devastating tornadoes on April 27, 2011.
Brister drove to nearby Hueytown and walked more than three
miles to reach his home. “It was like a war zone,” Brister told
the Asheville Citizen-Times. “Everything was completely torn
apart.” To remember the event, he writes the numbers “427” in
the mound each time he pitches.
Mike Danaher - Binghamton
Danaher, a junior catcher for the Bearcats, took
two weeks out of his winter vacation to make a difference
thousands of miles away as part of a medical mission in Kenya.
Danaher, who hit .240 with 20 RBI in 2012 and plans on attending
medical school, and his group volunteered their time and
assistance at the Kikuyu Orthopedic Rehabilitation Centre,
assisting Binghamton's Dr. Douglas R. Kerr on more than a dozen
surgeries. "To see the world from a different perspective was an
eye-opening experience," Danaher told the Binghamton sports
Marty Gantt - College of Charleston
Gantt, a senior centerfielder at College of
Charleston, was born with an underdeveloped right hand - his
fingers end where most people's fingers bend at the knuckles.
The disability didn't slow Gantt one bit as he hit .373 with 11
homers, 46 RBI and 29 stolen bases and was named the Southern
Conference Player of the Year. "He's also one of the most
hard-nosed players I've ever coached," Cougars coach Monte Lee
told CBI in June. "He's one of those guys you coach once in a
Nino Giarratano - San Francisco
Giarratano, the coach of the Dons, made a
life-changing decision before the start of the 2011 season: to
donate a kidney to his 80-year-old father at season's end. The
longtime coach made the decision on Christmas Day in 2010 and
had the surgery to help his father in July of 2011. "The
decision for me was not hard at all. As soon as I found out he
needed a transplant, I was full speed ahead," Giarratano told
CBI in December.
Ty Godfrey - Monmouth
Godfrey, a sophomore in high school who is the
batboy for the Hawks, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor
when he was seven years old. Godfrey was teamed with Monmouth
baseball through “Friends of Jaclyn.” Godfrey helps prep the
field for batting practice and games, while working with the
umpires as well. The Godfrey family also travels with the Hawks.
Along with being a team manager for his high school baseball
team, Godfrey works at a local golf course and is the batboy for
the minor league Lakewood BlueClaws.
Mike Kent - Clemson
Kent, a redshirt sophomore pitcher for the
Tigers, picked up a save against Maryland in April. Two days
later, he was enduring a six-hour bone marrow transplant for his
ailing brother Matt, who is battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma. On the
year, Kent went 1-2 with two saves and a 3.76 ERA. "I think
about the pain he's going through, pain he's been through the
last three years now," Kent told The Post and Courier in May.
"He's a fighter, and that's what I'm trying to be."
Alex Silver - Texas
Silver, a sophomore infielder for the Longhorns,
was expected to be starting at third base during his freshman
year in 2011. That winter break, he was diagnosed with Stage 1
Hodgkin's lymphoma. He went through numerous treatments, he was
deemed cancer free and made his debut in April and started eight
games down the stretch. As a sophomore, he batted .267 with 19
RBI and remains an inspiration for the Longhorns. "I never asked
'Why me?' - I guess I was lucky that it was me instead of
someone that was less fortunate," Silver told the Texas sports
Carter Smith - UT Martin
Smith, a freshman pitcher for the Skyhawks, was
born without a right hand, invoking images of Jim Abbott on the
mound. Smith started out 3-0 but finished 3-3 with a 8.10 ERA in
40 innings. "It's never been too much of an obstacle," Smith
told NCAA.com in April. "Sometimes, if it is a slow ground ball
and there is a fast runner I'll bare hand the ball instead of
trying to do the glove switch. But if it is a ground ball back
at me, I'll switch the glove."
Tanner Vavra - Valparaiso
Vavra, a junior infielder for the Crusaders,
suffered a serious eye injury when he was 3 years old. He
injured the eye again when he was 10 and lost total vision in
it. The fact that he can't see out of his right eye hasn't
stopped Vavra, who hit .332 with a homer and 20 RBI for NCAA
participant Valparaiso. "I understand that everybody sees this
as a disability, but as far as I'm concerned, I don't see myself
struggling at all," Vavra told CBI in March. "I don't see it as
Colby Wren - Georgia Tech
Wren, a sophomore first baseman for the Yellow
Jackets, plays through a genetic mitochondrial disease called
mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation that affects his
gastrointestinal system and causes his body to fatigue quickly
and shut down due to lack of energy. Wren, who had one at-bat in
2012, serves as an ambassador for the Foundation for
Mitochondrial Medicine. "If I have an opportunity to face or an
opportunity to conquer or overcome something, I will," he told
CBI in January.
(photo courtesy of WFU Media Relations Office)