Saturday’s game saw the annual renewal of the Georgia baseball Lettermen’s Day tradition. Former players going as far back as the 1940’s gathered at Foley Field to enjoy the day and be recognized by the fans.
Tommy Lewis (’58-’60) and Larry Rakestraw (’63) were presented with Letterman Awards.
Lewis, a native of Atlanta, Ga., received 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., received 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.
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There was also a best-tailgate contest but no one loses at tailgating in Athens, right?