The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

SEC announces 2016 Baseball Legends

814 days ago
SEC Staff
Photo: SEC Staff

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The SEC Baseball Legends Presented by AT&T, featuring former standouts from Southeastern Conference member institutions, will once again be honored at the 2016 SEC Baseball Tournament May 24-29 at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala.

The 2016 class features Arkansas' Norm DeBriyn, Auburn's Gabe Gross, Georgia's Cris Carpenter and Kentucky's Scott Downs. Four legends are recognized each year.

"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."

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.

"Congratulations to another great class of SEC Baseball Legends," said Jamie Kerr, Director, AT&T Corporate Sponsorships. "We're proud to help honor these terrific coaches and former student-athletes for everything they've achieved on and off the field."

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 Saturday, 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.

Norm DeBriyn - Arkansas; Coach: 1970-2002

In a head coaching career that spanned four decades, Norm DeBriyn took over as head coach of Arkansas baseball in 1970 at the age of 28. He guided the Razorbacks to two Southwest Conference titles, one Southeastern Conference title, one SEC Western Division title, 15 NCAA Tournament appearances and four NCAA College World Series appearances. The Razorbacks had their best national finish is school history under DeBriyn in 1979 as they finished runner-up in the College World Series. Upon his retirement, DeBriyn ranked 14th all-time in career wins among NCAA Division I head coaches with a record of 1,161-650-6 and a career winning percentage of .641. He still ranks as the University of Arkansas' all-time victories leader. In 33 years with Razorback baseball, DeBriyn coached 19 All-America selections, six Freshman All-Americans, 58 All-Conference selections and 48 All-Conference Tournament selections. DeBriyn was named SEC Coach of the Year in 1999 and earned SWC Coach of the Year in 1978, 1982, 1983, 1987, 1989 and 1990. He was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the Razorback Hall of Honor in 1991. He was inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame in 2003 and is also a member of the Wisconsin-Oshkosh Hall of Fame. Since his retirement from coaching following the 2002 season, DeBriyn has served as a part-time scout for the Colorado Rockies and Associate Director of the Razorback Foundation. He has been instrumental in fundraising for multiple expansions of Baum Stadium. DeBriyn and his wife, the former Caroline Mock of Honolulu, Hawaii, have been married for 44 years. They have two sons, Todd and Marty, one daughter, Carrie Jo, and one grandchild, Carly, who is 13. DeBriyn was ordained a deacon in the Catholic Church in November of 2012, and has been assigned to St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church on campus.

Gabe Gross - Auburn, Outfield: 1999-2001

Gabe Gross was a three-year starter in the Auburn outfield from 1999-2001. A career .375 hitter, he hit a blistering .430 in his All-America campaign of 2000. He remains in the school's top-10 for career doubles (68, second), extra-base hits (108, third), walks (145, third), RBI (218, fourth), total bases (442, fifth), home runs (35, eighth) and hits (259, ninth). A first round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2001, he enjoyed a seven-year big league career, hitting .239 with 78 doubles, eight triples, 40 home runs and 186 RBI while playing for four different teams. Gross is now in his second year as a broadcaster with the SEC Network. He previously spent seven years in Major League Baseball, which included a World Series appearance in 2008 with the Tampa Bay Rays. He also coached two seasons at Auburn in 2012 and 2013 where he worked with the outfielders and directed the team's offense. Gross is married to the former Kelly Gesch, also an Auburn graduate. The couple has two children, Allie and Jake.

Cris Carpenter - Georgia, Pitcher: 1985-87

Cris 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 in 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. He was an MLB first round pick (14th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1987 draft, and was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the seventh round in 1986 and did not sign, returning to UGA. Carpenter made his MLB debut 11 months after being drafted, becoming at the time the fastest Cardinal draft 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. Carpenter has returned to his hometown of Gainesville, Ga., where he is a social studies teacher. He and his wife, Jane, have three children, Liza, Margaret and Sam.

Scott Downs - Kentucky, Pitcher: 1995-97

Scott Downs was a three-year starting pitcher at Kentucky from 1995-97 and earned first-team All-SEC honors in his final season. He won 17 games as a Wildcat and still holds the school career record for strikeouts with 293. He also ranks in the Kentucky career top-10 lists for games started (40), complete games (13), and innings pitched (260). He was a third-round draft selection by the Chicago Cubs in 1997 and debuted in the major leagues in 2000. Once in the majors, he transitioned from starting pitcher to reliever and spent 13 seasons in MLB with the Cubs, Montreal Expos, Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals. He pitched in 619 games, totaling 38 wins and 27 saves. After retiring from playing, Scott has returned to his native state and lives in Lexington with his wife, Katie, and their children, Harrison, Grayson, and Caroline.