Former Major League pitcher Cris Carpenter will represent Georgia as part of the 2016 class of SEC Baseball Legends, presented by AT&T, as announced today by the league office in Birmingham.
Carpenter is part of a four-man group who will be honored at the 2016 SEC Baseball Tournament May 24-29 at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala. Along with Carpenter, the 2016 class features Arkansas’ Norm DeBriyn, Auburn’s Gabe Gross, and Kentucky’s Scott Downs. Four legends are recognized each year.
Carpenter was a two-time All-America pitcher and All-SEC punter for Georgia. He lettered in baseball (1985-87) and football (1985-86) and helped Georgia to its first-ever College World Series appearance in 1987 as the Bulldogs went 42-21 and finished ranked No. 7.
He ranks second in school history with 33 saves, fourth in appearances (97), fifth in wins (22), sixth in ERA (2.93) and seventh in strikeouts (260). He ranks second in school history with a 40.0 career net punting average and fourth in punting average at 42.8. Carpenter played on the 1987 USA Baseball Summer Team that won a Silver Medal at the Pan Am Games. He made a record 32 appearances with a 1.37 ERA and 5 Saves in 59.1 IP with 69 Ks as team went 34-9.
Carpenter was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the seventh round in 1986 and then opted to return to UGA and helped lead them to the CWS. In 1987, he was a first round selection (14thoverall) of St. Louis, and Carpenter made his MLB debut 11 months after being drafted, becoming at the time the fastest Cardinal pick to reach the major league club within one year of being drafted. He made eight starts in 1988 for the Cardinals and eventually shifted to the bullpen. He played five years with St. Louis and also pitched for the Marlins, Rangers and Brewers to cap an eight-year MLB career. Currently, he resides in his hometown of Gainesville, Ga., where he is a social studies teacher. He and his wife, Jane, have three children, Liza, Margaret and Sam.
“The SEC Baseball Legends program is an opportunity to recognize the history and tradition of baseball in our conference,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “These individuals helped establish a foundation for the current and future success of our college baseball programs and the opportunities enjoyed today by our student-athletes.”
Each legend will be recognized individually throughout the two quarterfinal matchups on Friday and will have on-field recognition and an awards presentation by Commissioner Sankey on Sat., May 28 during the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. Fans will have an opportunity for autographs and photos with the honorees at the AT&T Legends Pavilion immediately following. The Legends will also participate in the annual SEC Youth Clinic on Friday morning.
This marks the fifth consecutive year that the SEC has recognized a class of baseball legends. The 2015 class featured Andy Phillips, Alabama; David Eckstein, Florida; Mark Johnson, Texas A&M and Larry Schmittou, Vanderbilt, while the 2014 class featured Phil Garner, Tennessee; Jake Gibbs, Ole Miss; Jay Powell, Mississippi State and Bobby Richardson, South Carolina. The 2013 class honored Hal Baird, Auburn; Terry Shumpert, Kentucky; Skip Bertman, LSU; and Gene McArtor, Missouri, and the inaugural class in 2012 included: Dr. Jeffrey Laubenthal, Alabama; Kevin McReynolds, Arkansas; Brad Wilkerson, Florida and Rev. Reggie Andrews, Georgia.