Georgia will have its annual Lettermen’s Day Saturday at Foley Field, honoring two former Bulldogs plus the 2006 College World Series squad as they celebrate the 10-year anniversary of advancing to the CWS.
Bulldogs from as far back as the 1940s are slated to attend the Georgia-Ole Miss series including at least 16 members of the 2006 team. Last year, more than 60 former Georgia baseball players returned to Athens including members of the 1990 national championship team as part of the 25-year anniversary of their title.
Lettermen from eight decades are scheduled to be in attendance this weekend. This year’s group is expected to include the oldest living first overall NFL draft pick, Charley Trippi, who also made amazing plays on the diamond for the Bulldogs in 1946. Members of the 2006 squad who are scheduled to be in attendance include the following: Joe Billick, Brooks Brown, Stephen Dodson, Matthew Dunn, Jason Fellows, Brent Hallman, Trevor Holder, Jason Jacobs, Adam McDaniel, Nathan Moreau, Josh Morris, Matt Olson, Ryan Peisel, Miles Starr, David Thoms and Mickey Westphal. They went 47-23 overall (18-12), beat Florida State to win an NCAA Athens Regional and then South Carolina in an NCAA Athens Super Regional to reach Omaha. The 2006 team, coached by David Perno and assistants Doug Sisson, Roger Williams, Jason Eller and Derek Smith, finished with a No. 6 final national ranking.
Bulldog standouts Tommy Lewis (1958-60) and Larry Rakestraw (1963) are the recipients of this year’s Lettermen Awards. Lewis, a native of Atlanta, Ga., will receive the 2016 Charley Trippi Distinguished Letterman Award. This is presented in recognition of the generous support, interest and special commitment to University of Georgia Baseball; for his love of community, service to others and professional achievements. A successful life goes beyond winning on the field. It embodies an obligation to others and a responsibility to leave an imprint that will be recognized by those who follow. This honor is awarded to those athletes who made their mark on the playing fields and have carried those lessons into life as extraordinary, contributing and successful citizens.
Lewis was a two-sport star for the Bulldogs on the diamond and the gridiron. He earned All-SEC honors as an outfielder in 1959, served as captain of the 1960 team and was the starting fullback on the 1959 SEC Championship squad. He was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force in 1960 and served seven years as a pilot before flying for Eastern Airlines and AirTran Airways. He retired after 53 years in aviation (both military and civilian). He and his wife, Judy, have been married for 55 years, and they have two children and six grandchildren.
Rakestraw, a native of Mableton, Ga., will receive the 2016 Tom Cousins Outstanding Athletic Achievement Award. This is presented to University of Georgia baseball players, who through extraordinary performance in one game, one season or a career have distinguished themselves on the playing field. It is hoped that these men will go down in UGA history as the best of the best. Our hopes are that their performance, leadership, and integrity will inspire present and future players to give their all to win at the highest level.
Rakestraw played several positions on the baseball team including pitcher, outfielder and catcher and was named Most Valuable Player in 1963. In fact, he was the catcher of Don Woeltjen’s perfect game against Georgia Tech in Atlanta in 1963. Also, he was a three-year starter at quarterback for the Bulldogs, earning All-SEC honors in 1962 and 1963. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears and played four seasons in the NFL. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. Rakestraw enjoyed a successful career in the insurance business. He is retired now and enjoys playing golf and spending time with his five children and 10 grandchildren.