Saturday was a special day for the Chipola baseball family, as the Indians welcomed back former players for their 7th Annual Alumni Weekend. The day started off with a walk-off win over Walters State thanks to Ian Rice, who blasted a solo homerun in the bottom of the 8th inning for the win.
Next, current Pittsburgh Pirate Russell Martin's jersey was retired. Martin, joining the ranks of Jose Bautista and Buck Showalter as the only Indians to have their jersey's retired. Martin, a three time MLB All-Star, helped lead the Pirates to their first post season playoff appearance in 21 years.
That home run power, not shown off in today's home run derby, which Mat Gamel, who was signed to the Atlanta Braves, won by hitting six homers in the final round. Gamel beat Marlin Jeff Mathis and Toronto Blue Jay Bautista for the title this year, and all the guys agreeing they love giving back to the team that gave them so much.
"We start calling each other up, texting, talking to each other on Facebook, just looking forward to the moment where we can all get back together every single year and kind of have a couple of days where we kick back and relax and revisit our lives and make sure we know what everybody is up to," said Bautista.
"You know, we shared a lot of great memories here and it's always fun to come back and see the old teammates and share those stories you know that we once had," said Martin. "It's a special day for me and for a lot of people that are here."
Bautista saw his season end prematurely for the second straight year, this time, thanks to a hip injury. But he said today he's feeling stronger then ever, and he's excited for the upcoming season.
"Out of that injury what I'm getting out of is a lot of different training and strengthening in different parts of my body which are only going to help me moving forward with staying healthy and maybe prolonging my career," he said. "There's always positives in any setbacks in life and hope that I take whatever I can out of those injuries and hope that I take whatever I can out of those injuries and just make myself a better player and person moving forward."