When Jim Schlossnagle took over as Texas A&M coach prior to this season, he wanted to incorporate the 12th Man philosophy that is so prominent in cheering on the school's football program more into the baseball program.
So when it came to choosing which player on his first Aggies roster would wear No. 12, Schlossnagle did not take making the decision lightly. He eventually decided not on a returning A&M player, but newcomer Troy Claunch, the catcher who is in his first and what will be his only year with the team after transferring in from Oregon State as a graduate student.
"When I took the job, the 12th Man, obviously, if you know that story or you know what that is, it represents our fan base. And the No. 12 just means a lot at Texas A&M and to the former students and fans," Schlossnagle said. "When you walk into Kyle Field, the football stadium, you see 'Home of the 12th Man' across the facade of the upper bench. Eventually I would like to put it in our ballpark. I don't think the No. 12 or 12th Man is recognized enough on the baseball side.
"I felt it should be an honor to wear No. 12. We decided we're going to go through the fall and whoever we feel like best represents the core values of the university, we're going to award them No. 12."
Schlossnagle said choosing Claunch, who has proven to be a clutch hitter as well at rock solid behind the plate defensively, was far from a no-brainer.
"It was a really hard decision, especially to give it to a new player. And I think you have to credit the returning players for how they handled it because it could have been real easy for somebody that's been at A&M and represented those values for two or three or four years to say, 'What the heck? Why are we giving it to this guy from Oregon State?' " he said.
"But Troy did such a great job of not having an ego, being humble, being conscientious, having quiet confidence to where he earned the respect of his teammates and the coaching staff. ... And we may not do it every year. We'll see. But if we do it it will be someone that's really special that represents everything that the 12th Man is about."