Corbin makes Vandy a national power

April 3, 2013

Head baseball coach Tim Corbin is in his 11th season at Vanderbilt and as most athletes his passion for sports began as a youth with his father.

"My father was very helpful to me in baseball," Corbin said recently. "He was a traveler and helped me when he could. He was the provider and I think my mother was the taxi driver that got us to and from where we needed to go. My dad made sure that he was home when we had games.

"I played Little League baseball at age eight. I am 50 years old and it was more frequent back then to have neighborhood games. Getting outside and playing was a normalcy because we didn't have the avenues in communication with computers that we do today. For that generation that was pretty typical."

Corbin was born in Wolfeboro, N.H. and living in New England grew up a Boston Red Sox fan. Carl Yastrzemski was the hero he followed closely. Corbin followed the Red Sox from era to era and would cherish any player that wore a Boston uniform especially Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Carlton Fisk. His first experience in Fenway Park came as a first grader. Corbin played sports in high school for Kingswood Regional (N.H.).

"There were not a lot of highlights in high school," Corbin said. "I was a high school player that was engaged in baseball. I played most positions on the field. I pitched, caught and was a shortstop I was one of those kids that was definitely emerged in it. I probably have more memories from my [American] Legion ball experiences. My hometown didn't have a Legion team so we had to travel in order to play. I enjoyed playing with the players from different high schools in different areas from the state. To me it was more competitive. It drove my passion for baseball a little bit more.

"I went one year [1980] to Kimball Union Academy (N.H.) for postgraduate work and to grow mentally more than anything else. And I wanted to improve myself academically and put myself in a competitive school. It gave me the opportunity to play football, basketball and baseball. In those schools as a postgraduate, you played freshmen college teams so it was very competitive. In New England it is more of a normalcy for kids to take on another senior year and to have a postgraduate year. I felt that was a very important year in my growth academically and athletically."



Corbin chose Ohio Wesleyan College to continue his education. This was a Division III school that did not offer scholarships. In baseball he played catcher, third base, shortstop and second base.

"Essentially all student athletes walk on to their sports," said Corbin. "Recruiting during that time period wasn't as intense. I had a friend that attended there. I went to visit that school as well as other schools in the Mid-West. I fell in love with their campus and athletic facilities. It was a good academic school and once I got in I decided that's where I wanted to go. It was a good fit for me since it was a small school and I got the opportunity to play four years of collegiate baseball. I was also a student assistant coach in football since we didn't have fall baseball.

"My college baseball highlight was a situation where we played Marietta College (OH), which were the reigning national champions, and we ran out of pitching. Our coach was asking if any pitchers had anything left in their arm. I just said I would pitch and I pitched. We happened to beat them 7-4. I pitched a complete game. We were about .500 every year so weren't able to reach any NCAA playoffs. Highlights were few and far between."

After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan (1984), Corbin was a graduate assistant coach at Ohio State followed by a position as an assistant baseball coach at Wofford College. The ambitious Corbin would become a head baseball coach at Presbyterian College for six years (1988-93).

"I was at the right place at the right time," said Corbin. "It was a college that didn't have any scholarships. We didn't have a baseball field. We didn't have anything. There were limited resources. The athletic director at Wofford was Dan Morrison, who is now the president of the Carolina Panthers. I showed up at Morrison's house to ask if he needed any help that I had some free time and would do anything.

"He put me in touch with the fundraising office and I became involved in fundraising while I was an assistant baseball coach at Wofford. If I hadn't contact him there would not have been a Presbyterian College situation. The reason I got the Presbytarian College job was because Dan Morrison made a telephone call and told the athletic director at Presbyterian this person would be someone that you would want to hire if your looking for a coach."

At Presbyterian, Corbin restarted a baseball program that knew little success. His six-year record was 106-138 overall and directed Presbyterian from NAIA to NCAA Division II status. The Blue Hose made three consecutive appearances in the South Atlantic playoffs (1991-93) and Corbin earned Atlantic Coach of the Year honors in 1990.

Following his success at Presbyterian, Corbin became an assistant coach at powerhouse Clemson in the ACC. This move provided Corbin with his best baseball learning experience under legendary head coach Jack Leggett in Division I.

"I had a prior relationship with Coach Leggett, " said Corbin. "Being that we're both New England guys, he's from Vermont; we had known each other a little bit when he was the head coach at Western Carolina. I would run into him recruiting on the road. I caught his attention by recruiting quite a bit. He knew we didn't have any resources [at Presbyterian].

"He knew I was staying in my car when I recruited. He just watched what I did. I believe he was intrigued by it. Coach Leggett wanted to talk to me when he took the job at Clemson. Clemson was looking for a recruiter. I didn't think there was anyway that he would hire me. I felt like he would hire within the Division I coaching ranks. He offered me the opportunity. I can say he is the most influential coach in my career."

During his nine years at Clemson (1994-2002), the Tigers won more than 71 percent of their games (434-172), collected two Atlantic Coast Conference regular season championships, made nine appearances in the NCAA Tournament and reached the College Word Series four times (1995, 1996, 2000 and 2002).

In his tenure at Clemson, Corbin was promoted twice becoming an assistant head coach (1998) and associate head coach and recruiting coordinator (2001).

"That was a great experience for a lot of different reasons," said Corbin. "That's where I married my wife [Maggie]. I was able to raise two stepchildren there. We educated both girls there in their high school careers. It's really where my coaching career grew. I got to understand what that division level was like with the intensity, time involved and recruiting aspect.

"I just learned under someone I considered a father figure--an older brother. Coach Leggett was just everything I wanted. He was my best friend. I got more out that than I was able to give back. We were successful because of Coach Leggett. Coach Leggett set a tone everyday. He was very energetic. He had such an influence on me with his day-to-day effort."

Corbin said that during his time at Clemson he was offered six head coaching positions, but were mostly considered small schools. He and his wife did take a trip to Fresno State, but decided not to take the position when offered. The couple decided to keep Clemson as their home for a few more years.

"I had no desire the first eight years to be a head coach." Corbin said. "I was comfortable where I was. I still felt I was young and had a lot to learn. I didn't want to push the forward button too quickly. I wanted to make sure if I was going to take a job that I was going to be ready for it. To be honest, I wasn't looking to go anywhere. Those jobs weren't what I was interested in."

Soon after visiting Fresno State, Vanderbilt contacted him about replacing the retiring Roy Mewbourne who spent 24 seasons as the Commodores head baseball coach. After visiting the campus the Corbin family moved to Nashville.

"Vanderbilt was closer to the East Coast and it had the appeal I was looking for," said Corbin. "It had the academic component. I liked that it was a small private school. I had gotten a taste of that at Presbyterian though this one was at the SEC level. I liked the fact that the program was growing.

"Coach Mewbourne left behind a very nice stadium. He worked very hard and diligently to get that stadium. I was the recipient of the opportunity. I took it thinking it was the best decision to make at the right time. But that wasn't an easy decision either. But it has worked out to this point. I think working at a great school like Vanderbilt and living in an elite city like Nashville was getting the best of both worlds."

Though Vanderbilt had little baseball success, there was a history of great players to play for the Commodores. Corbin's first team in 2003 finished 27-28 (14-16 SEC) good enough to earn a SEC Tournament berth. The following season the Commodores made it to the NCAA Tournament finishing with a 45-19 (16-14 SEC) mark. That squad lost two straight games at Texas in the Commodores first-ever appearance in a Super Regional. The 2005 club was 34-21 (13-17 SEC).

"The Southeastern Conference is the premier of college baseball,' said Corbin. "It is very competitive. I've always thought that you could have a very good team and still finish .500 in the conference. It has a way of diluting success sometimes. I felt like we were making continual steps towards 2005. We didn't reach a regional, but all in all I felt that we were still making positive contributions and we became a name to a college baseball recruit. Earlier it was difficult. We sold the academic part of our program and we sold the SEC, but we didn't have the success of 2003 and 2004.

"We weren't selling a tradition yet that just took small steps. We had to be patient. I believe 2003 was probably the most important year for our baseball program just because how it finished and how we leapfrogged our confidence. Our confidence really propelled us into 2004. The only reason we were able to get to a Super Regional in 2004 was the success we had prior even though it was .500 successes. We got to .500 and the fact we got to the SEC Tournament was something Vanderbilt hadn't done in a few years. It ignited a fire in the kids to get them to reach levels the very next year."

During those first few seasons Corbin gives credit to his players hard work and dedication. He referred to players Ryan Klosterman, Tony Mansolino, Jeremy Sowers, Jonathan Douillard, Warner Jones, Worth Scott, Cesar Nicolas, Antoan Richardson, Mike Baxter, Jenson Lewis, Matt Buschmann, Ryan Mullins and Matt Zeller.

"Those were kids that were very influential to our baseball success," Corbin said. "They were grinders. It was almost like the Junction Boys. That's what they called themselves because they felt they were have-nots. We didn't have much at all. I remember that first year having one pair of pants and two jersey tops. We made do with what we had. From an effort level I'd never seen a group of kids from one year to the next make so many improvements and do so much with what I thought was so little."

The Commodores were back in the NCAA Tournament in 2006 finishing with a 35-17 (SEC, 16-14) record. The 2007 club would reach the summit and gain national attention. A school record 54 wins was accomplished (14 losses) sweeping through the SEC winning both the regular season (22-8) and tournament crowns. That team achieved a No. 1 national ranking for the first time in school history holding the top spot for 13 of 15 weeks during the regular season.

For his effort, Corbin was named the SEC Coach of the Year, Co-National Coach of the Year (College Baseball Insider) and Regional Coach of The year by the American Baseball Coaches Association. The season ended abruptly when Michigan defeated the Commodores in a 10-inning Super Regional championship game played at Hawkins Field. David Price came out of the bullpen to give up a solo home run that eventually gave the Wolverines a 4-3 victory.

"We were very consistent," said Corbin. "We played so well from the time we started to the time we ended. It was one of those situations where we were ranked No.1 in the country and were a very dominant team. We won the SEC outright. We won the SEC Tournament with some very good players. We found ourselves a little bit short at the end pitching-wise. We went into that double elimination tournament and lost the second game that forced us to play maybe more games than we should have.

"Nonetheless we lost a heartbreaker to Michigan in which is still a painful memory just because of the way it ended. It ended with a guy [Price] who was so important to us as the No.1 player in college baseball. It was one of those things. It was a great lesson for us in a lot of different ways because baseball is one of those games you can't wrap your arms around all the time and the outcome doesn't go the way it should.

"At that point we were Goliath and Michigan was David. They had their time. They beat us. It was devastating, but it shouldn't take away the success that we had during that time. We hosted a regional for the first time. We probably didn't handle it as well if it had been a second or third time. Really it was our first go around. Lessons learned, but there were some heartache associated with it. But at the same time we were putting our program on the map."

Corbin served as manager for the USA National Baseball Team in the summer of 2006. The team collected the goal medal at the International University Sports Federation World University Championship in Havana, Cuba after posting a 28-2-1 record. Three Commodores Pedro Alvarez, Casey Weathers and David Price were on USA's roster.

Corbin was asked how much did his success help in the recruiting efforts.

"I would never say recruiting is easy," said Corbin. "It gets us through the door. We had a hard time getting to the door. We would knock, but no one would answer. No one was letting us in 2002 and 2003. That's the difference right there. Once we get in we told our story. That took some time and wasn't overnight. I remember a story from 2002 where we recruited this young man who was looking at Stanford and Arizona State.

"His dad got on the phone and said we respect your school, but you are not a blip on the college radar screen so we would not be interested. I remember that phone call sticking out and it was a motivator. He was right. We weren't. That young man probably shouldn't have been interested in us. What it did was to make us understand how far we needed to go in order to become a blip on the radar screen. We weren't for quite some time."

In 2008 the Commodores were 41-22 (15-14 SEC), in 2009, 37-27 (12-17 SEC) and in 2010 a 46-20 (16-12 SEC) record. The 2008-09 'Dores made it to the regional while the 2010 squad once again played in the Super Regional. This time Vanderbilt lost at Florida State in three games. By this time the Commodores were not satisfied with just making it to a Super Regional.

"It was not good enough for the players," said Corbin. "The Players and the program want more. Our program has certain expectations like many programs do, but I think our goal is the finality. Everyone wants to end up in Omaha. I think when you get close and you start to taste it, it hurts more when you don't get there. I really think losing to Florida State in Tallahassee propelled our confidence the very next year and going there to win was going to be difficult. It is difficult to win at Florida State and we had a youthful team.

"Our team was made up of sophomores and juniors so we had a lot of those players returning the very next year. I believe that was the reason we were able to go to Omaha. I do think getting to Florida State was a story itself because we ended up beating Louisville in a regional to get to the Super Regional. Louisville had been a nemesis of ours for sometime. We could just never get over their hump. I think when we won that final game on a safety squeeze another surge took place in our program. When we went to Florida State we didn't win that Super Regional, but it was more growth in the program."

The 2011 Vanderbilt baseball team would make it over the "hump" with another 54 wins (12 losses) and a SEC record of 22-8. The Commodores were SEC champions, hosted an NCAA Regional for the second time and a Super Regional for the first time. Vanderbilt swept both games over Oregon State to advance to the College World Series in Omaha. First baseman Aaron Westlake blasted three home runs in the second game in dramatic fashion.

"We had accomplished so much during that year and socially the kids were on task," said Corbin. "Academically they were 3.0 students. They were consistent winners on the ball field. We got to the final game of the SEC Tournament. We were regional champions and handled that appropriately. We won the Super Regional here and were able to win that in two games. That last game was a memory I will never forget just because we were able to celebrate on our field. That was an event that never occurred here before. We had a young man playing his last game at Vanderbilt hitting three home runs and the celebration afterwards.

"Later I was sitting up in our classroom with all the coaches, the staff with their kids and we just watched the sun come up the next day. No one wanted to leave. It was one of those things that everyone felt so much gratification. I was really proud of the team because after that win, they pulled it back together and entered a new era of Vanderbilt baseball. Typically when teams play in the College World Series for the first time it is two and out.

"We won the opening game and it was the first game of the new stadium. We played a good Florida team the next day and loss in a close game. We came back in an elimination game and beat North Carolina and lost again to Florida, which was a heartbreaker. We played well. We got close. Florida was our nemesis that particular year where they had success over us. We just couldn't get by them. In my way of thinking we had a legacy team. That team got along with good leadership. There were no issues. They took care of one another. They did the right thing on and off the field. It was just a tremendous memory."

Corbin after his 2011 squad qualified for the College World Series.

After that historic season an SEC record 12 Vanderbilt players were selected for the Major League Amateur draft. This meant that some juniors who would be counted upon to lead as seniors were leaving. It is very difficult to replace those types of skilled players and leadership and expect to repeat the same success.

The 2012 season had a slow start with a 1-7 record in February and 7-10 when SEC play began. The Commodores did not raise their record to .500 until May 8. They finished the season strong as one of the hottest college teams in the country. The club was back in the SEC Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament ending the season with two losses to N.C. State. The final record was 35-28 (16-14 SEC).

"That particular year we lost 12 big personalities," said Corbin. "It wasn't just their athletic or baseball abilities, it was their leadership. Their personality in the locker room is missing. I think it takes time to overcome that. Looking at last year's media guide I thought that team would be one that would grow as the year progressed and we happened to do that.

"What I might not have forecasted was the difficulty that we had coming out of the blocks. We just played a very difficult schedule. The teams that we played were certainly better than us at the time that we played them. I would say we were better or just as good as some of those teams at the end of the year. I believe 2011 was a legacy team. Last year's team could have been also just because of the circumstances that we were facing. We were 7-15 and looking uphill.

"We weren't a relevant team anywhere. The growth that took place from the end of March to June was certainly gratifying. I thought that was one of the best achievements we had going from the cellar to the top so to speak. We played very well in the regional and could have won that regional in Raleigh. We fell a little bit short at the end. But again it doesn't take away from the accomplishment's I thought we had reached over the course of that year."

Vanderbilt became the first-ever team to land consecutive top rated recruiting classes when Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball tabbed the Commodores first year players No.1 in 2011 and 2012. The Commodores also gained the No.1 recruiting class in 2005. The 2013 Commodores were preseason No.2 by Baseball America, No.3 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 3 by Perfect Game. A modest Corbin believes credit for Vanderbilt to attract the top recruits is not because of Vanderbilt's head baseball coach.

"A lot of it is Vanderbilt University," said Corbin. "The school itself and the reputation it carries academically in my mind is a lottery ticket in these kids pocket. It is the conference that we play in. I think it is the nation's elite conference. The numbers would back that up. Our success over the last 10 years made us more relevant. We had success in a humble way. We've handled it well and we've knocked on the door at Omaha several times and gotten there.

"That in itself with the package of academics, facilities the fact the school takes care of us from a resource standpoint and allows us to build a program that has a lot to do with our success. The kids see that when they come on campus. Kids see that when they meet our kids. I think our kids are elite, but I don't think they are elitist. I have always thought they were the best of the best. They are socially skilled and they handle themselves academically. They are good baseball players to boot. It is the right combination a student-athlete would be looking for."

When a player is eligible for the draft, Corbin's opinion in sought by that player. Corbin is unselfish, as he would like for his players to play all four years and graduate. But, he also wants what is in the best interest for that individual and not what's best for the future makeup of his team.

"I think each situation is different," Corbin said. "There are times that you understand the young man has to leave. It's in his best interest to leave at that point. We celebrate their successes when they are here. They all have visions like every other student on campus that wants to be a professional in their chosen field. These kids are no different. They just want that ability to play at the highest level. If I feel it's in their best interest I'll share my thoughts.

"At the same if I feel that they can prosper like an Aaron Westlake coming back to school and use 12 more months to benefit their confidence, finish their degree, accelerate their abilities then I'll give them my advice. At the same time it's ultimately their and their families choice. I want them to do what suits them. I'd like to have them all back for four years, but I know it doesn't work that way but at the same time we are in development. If we develop these kids where they have opportunities to leave, finish their degree in the future and a professional team will pay for that degree, it's tough sometimes to step away from that."

Derek Johnson had been with Corbin for 11 years as the team's pitching coach until October 2012. Johnson took a position as the Chicago Cubs minor league pitching coordinator. He was an assistant coach (2002-09) and associate head coach (2010-11) that mentored First Round Major League drafted Commodores Jeremy Sowers (2004), David Price (2007), Casey Weathers (2007), Mike Minor (2009), Sonny Gray (2011) and Grayson Garvin (2010). Price was the No.1 overall selection.

Johnson was named National Pitching Coach of the Year (2007) and National Assistant Coach of the Year (2010). Several more of his Commodore pupils were drafted and are scattered within the minor league system.

"He was my best friend," said Corbin. "He was loyal. He was a confidant. When you work together for 11years you know what each other is doing and that's how we handled one another. He was so good at what he did. But he was a guy that I could lean on. I leaned on him and he leaned on me.

"He and Erik Bakich were the first two people that we hired. D.J was here a year prior to me. He was a guy that knew the inner workings at Vanderbilt. He knew the academics. He knew the financial aid. He knew the scholarship situation. He had a pulse for what was going on and it allowed me to get a head start on what could be changed and where I thought growth needed to take place. He was very instrumental in that."

In Corbin's 10 seasons directing the Vanderbilt baseball program there have been many highlights with memorable players, games and postseason successes. So what is Corbin's favorite highlight?

"Worth Scott's walk-off home run on that Sunday [2003] to beat Tennessee and send us to Birmingham was the moment I remember most that kick-started us to success," Corbin said without hesitation. "It came at a crucial time. We needed to win all three games to go to Birmingham. We were down by a run. There were two outs. He was facing a future major league pitcher.

"He hadn't had any success in that game up until that point and he hit a second pitch fastball over the right field fence for a home run with a runner on second. It just ignited our situation. It also came at a time the stands were full and there weren't many times at least in that first year you could look up into the crowd and see every seat taken like that particular day. The overflow of people coming onto the field after we won was something I will never forget as long as I live."

Corbin's job is to develop his players so they will have a chance succeed on the baseball diamond and life after baseball. Under his guidance the Commodores have sent dozens of players to the minor and major leagues. David Price was the 2007 SEC Pitcher of the Year and No. 1 selection in the Major League draft. Price was voted as the American League Cy Young recipient in 2012.

"We are proud of them all regardless if they get picked in the first round, second round fourth, fifth round," said Corbin. "We are very proud they get the opportunity to be selected. We are more proud having more major leaguers that have finished their four-year degree than any other school. We're proud of the fact that we've been able to develop more professional players than anyone in the league the last nine years. Proud from a baseball standpoint, but there is so much more to teaching and coaching at that level.

"We want them to have success beyond the age of 30 years and have a quality family life. Be leaders in their own family and leaders in their own community. Be leaders of their businesses as teachers, coaches what have you. The greatest thing we have is the ability for professional players to come back to Nashville to live and train until they have to leave for spring training. I think we are different that way. We get so many of these kids back I think those are the paychecks we get as coaches."

With the highly regarded signees that join the program each year there can be a difficult challenge to make the players happy with time on the field. This is a situation all successful programs endure while patience is necessary especially for the least experienced players.

"In baseball you don't have a rolling bench where you can't substitute is very difficult," said Corbin. "Nine players play and you can get pitchers on the field. It's very tough to make every one in a baseball uniform happy especially when you have 35 kids. You try to be fair to the kids, but you can't be equal and I tell them that. Ultimately these kids are forcing the coaches to make decisions on whether or not they play. I tell the kids all the time that they don't own a position they rent one. You have to invest in that position every single day. There will be someone on your heels that wants it as bad as you do.

"The competition part of it is good that it drives your team, but at the same time you cannot make everyone happy and you can't put everyone on the field. That's why we spend so much time on team building and leadership skills because you understand there are going to be roadblocks and thunderbolts during the course of the year. We try to handle and communicate about those roadblocks before they get here. We want to have a team that grows and not diminished by those issues as the season progresses.

One prized recruit for Corbin was the addition of the grandson of his childhood hero Carl Yastremski. Mike Yastremski was drafted out of high school by the Boston Red Sox, but chose Vanderbilt over the minor leagues. Mike began the 2013 season as a senior turning down an offer from Seattle after being drafted in 2012. Yastremski began the season having started 137 straight games for the Commodores. The outfielder has started 164 of his 187 career games. Yastremski's Commodore career numbers include: .284 average (169-for-595), 12 home runs and 101 RBIs.

"Because he was his grandson it made me take a closer look," said Corbin. "Once I started to recruit him a little bit harder, I tried to treat it as if his name was Mike Smith instead of Mike Yastremski because I wanted him here for the right reasons. I didn't want him here because he was the grandson of Carl. I wanted him to be here because of his own merit and that's what he did. The surprise about Mike is how quickly he immersed himself into the team and how quickly he got a chance to play.

"When he first got here in the fall I thought he was going to be a good player, but I thought it was going to take a year or two to get him on the field. He got on the field in year one. He is one of the most committed and competitive kids that I've been around. I was very glad that it worked out. He's one of the best leaders we've ever had in our program. I can say that because of who he is and not what his name is. I can say it because the cloth that he is cut out makes him a special young man and I say that with a tremendous amount of respect."

Corbin's record at Vanderbilt is 311-217 which ranks second all-time behind Roy Mewbourne (655-609-9) in 24 years. There have been 103 of Corbin's Vanderbilt players and recruits to have been drafted by major league baseball; 18 Commodore players selected as All-American; 141 SEC All-Academic selections; 15 players to earn Freshman All-American; eight Commodores drafted in the first round including five in the Top Ten and eight trips to the NCAA Tournament with three Super Regional appearances. Prior to Corbin's arrival on the Vanderbilt campus the Commodores were in just three NCAA Tournaments and no Super Regionals. With these accomplishments Corbin was asked about his greatest strengths.

"I would say my energy is consistent and I like to be here all the time," Corbin said. "I'm driven to want to succeed. I have a passion for what I do and I love what I do. I don't have a job; I have a lifestyle. I just happened to be fortunate to be in this position because I understand there would be many other people in this country that would take my position tomorrow. I'm grateful for it and understand that and I don't take that for granted. I think any one that has been around me would say that I'm no different on Monday than I am on Sunday than I am on Saturday. We celebrate one holiday and that's Christmas, otherwise I'm here. I'm very present inside of this program."

Where does Coach Corbin see himself in 10 years?

"Wearing No. 4, standing at third base in a Vanderbilt baseball uniform as long as they will have me," Corbin said. "I'm going to coach until I expire. There is nothing else that really charges me like this. I do enjoy the kids a great deal and I enjoy their personalities and their innocence. It makes it fulfilling to be part of their life. There aren't days that I look away and say I rather be doing something else. I just don't have those days. There are days that sometimes are tougher than others. The university and the kids make this a special place to be."

Traughber's Tidbit
On the Ohio Wesleyan campus is Branch Rickey Arena, which opened in 1976. The arena is named for the former President and General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who broke the color barrier in baseball in 1947 by playing Jackie Robinson. Rickey graduated from Ohio Wesleyan in 1904 earning a B.S. degree. He was also a catcher on the baseball team. Rickey was selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967.

In two weeks read about Vanderbilt's first SEC baseball championship 40 years ago.

If you have any comments or suggestions you can contact Bill Traughber via email Traughber's new book "Vanderbilt Basketball, Tales of Commodore Hardwood History" is available online and Nashville area bookstores.

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