San Jacinto College to honor MLB players, baseball standouts at Legends ceremony
01.25.2016 | By Rob Vanya
Ceremony and game slated for Friday, Feb. 5
San Jacinto College will honor former students and coaches who have excelled in collegiate and professional baseball at the Legends ceremony, to be held Friday, Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at John Ray Harrison Field at Andy Pettitte Park, located at the San Jacinto College North Campus, 5800 Uvalde Road in Houston. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
Former San Jac student-athletes and coaches scheduled to attend the event include Matt Albers, Duane Walker, Chris Rupp, Rusty Pendergrass, Donald Wright, and Brandon Belt.
Right-handed pitcher Albers attended San Jacinto College in 2002. His professional career started in 2006 with the Houston Astros. In his 10 years in the majors, primarily as a relief pitcher, he has also pitched for the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Cleveland Indians. He currently pitches for the Chicago White Sox, and was described as the White Sox’ most consistent reliever for the 2015 season, in which he posted an outstanding 1.21 ERA in his 30 outings.
Walker attended San Jac in 1976, and was a standout outfielder. He started his professional career by playing six seasons for Cincinnati Reds’ minor league teams. He went on to play outfield for the Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers, and the St. Louis Cardinals from 1982 to 1988, and retired from professional baseball in 1988. One of his fondest memories is a game when he hit back-to-back home runs off Nolan Ryan. “On the other hand, Nolan struck me out 20 times and I only batted against him 24 times,” Walker recalled.
Rupp served as an assistant baseball coach for San Jac in 1990, helping to guide the team to a JUCO World Series championship. He then served as the San Jac head baseball coach from 1991 to 2000. He afterwards held coaching positions at Rice University, Sam Houston State University, Baytown Sterling High School, and Goose Creek Memorial High School. Rupp currently is the head coach for the Deer Park High School baseball team.
Pendergrass attended San Jac from 1971 to 1973, playing infield and outfield. After his time at San Jac, he served as an assistant coach for the University of Houston and Rice University before taking the helm for the Houston Baptist University Huskies baseball team, where he severed as head coach from 1992 to 1997, logging an impressive .658 winning percentage with 177 wins and 92 losses. He guided the Huskies to the Big State Conference title in 1997. He currently works as a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and has worked as a scout for the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros.
Wright attended San Jac in 1986 and 1987, and played first base on teams that won JUCO World Series championships both seasons. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1987 and played for KC Royals’ minor league teams for four seasons. He is the founder and owner of Just Wright Sports, a Select Youth baseball and softball organization based in Huffman.
Belt played for San Jac in 2007, excelling as a pitcher and hitter. He transferred to the University of Texas, where he played two years for the Longhorns. He was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2009, moving rapidly through the farm system and joining the MLB team in 2011. He currently plays first base and outfield for the Giants, and was a member of the 2012 and 2014 World Series championship teams. Belt made key contributions in his World Series appearances, especially when the Giants defeated Kansas City in 2014. Belt, along with teammate Hunter Pence, hit safely in all seven games of the series, the only players on either team to do so.
Following the Legends ceremony, San Jac will play Grayson College, with the first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. Larry Wilson, San Jacinto College Board of Trustees Vice Chairman, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Mr. Wilson, a longtime friend of the John Ray Harrison family, is active in community events and is an avid supporter of San Jacinto College athletic programs.
“The San Jacinto College baseball program has a lengthy tradition of excellence,” commented Head Coach Tom Arrington, who is in his 15th season as head coach. “The College has a reputation around the nation for sending players to the professional ranks, many who emerge as some of the most elite in the game. Fans who come out for the Legends ceremony will have a unique opportunity to see some of the best student athletes ever produced by San Jacinto College, and indeed some of the best to come out of any college. We are proud of these men who personify what great foundations in athletics and academics are available at San Jacinto College, and we hope many from the community can come out to show their support and appreciation.”
The first home conference game for San Jacinto College will be on Saturday, Feb. 27 when the team will host Galveston College in a double-header that starts at 3 p.m. For more information, please visit sanjacsports.com.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.