Danny Hall arrived at Georgia Tech more than 18 years ago hoping not to mess up a gilded roster. On Friday night, with spring in full bloom, Hall attained a milestone giving evidence he has accomplished a bit more than that.
The Yellow Jackets pounded a 12-3 lump into Virginia Tech at Russ Chandler Stadium to earn Hall’s 1,000th career win. He is just the 47th Division I coach and 16th active coach to hit four digits in wins.
“I just wanted to get it over,” said Hall, soaked to his feet in ice water after closer Luke Bard and first baseman Jake Davies emptied a water cooler on him in the postgame huddle.
The No. 20 Jackets (13-5 overall, 2-2 ACC) scored four runs in the second, punctuated by Davies’ two-run single, to begin to remove the game’s tension. Pitcher Buck Farmer did the rest, giving up two runs in seven innings to improve to 4-1. The Jackets and Virginia Tech (14-5, 1-3) will continue with games Saturday and Sunday.
Hall is in his 19th season at Tech after a six-year run at Kent State, hired by former Tech athletic director Homer Rice. After the November 1993 departure of Jim Morris for Miami, Hall inherited a roster with future major-leaguers Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, Jay Payton and Brad Rigby.
“I was just trying not to screw it up,” Hall said earlier this season.
Hall guided that team to the finals of the College World Series in Tech’s first CWS appearance. On Friday, it was one of Hall’s 471 losses that a member of the 1994 team recalled, an early-season loss to Rutgers in the first game of a doubleheader.
“He brought us in the locker room and just let us have it,” said Tucker Barr, a freshman catcher on the team and now an Atlanta attorney. “He had to do it, and I’m sure he probably wasn’t crazy about doing it, but it really got our attention. He got a lot of respect from us because of that.”
Tech routed Rutgers in the nightcap and took 17 of the next 18. A lot more winning has followed.
In 18 years at Tech, the Jackets have won five ACC regular-season titles, gone to the NCAA tournament 16 times with three CWS trips, the only CWS appearances in school history. A total of 97 Hall-coached Tech players have been drafted.
“I think, especially now, he’s been there 18-something years, he’s a great ambassador for Tech,” Barr said. “Coming from Ohio, I don’t know that everybody thought that would be the case, but he’s certainly become a Tech guy.”
On Friday night, Hall could not recall his first career win, from the 1988 season at Kent State. He did remember the disappointment of his first loss, to Division III Ohio Wesleyan.
“There’s no question you remember those losses a lot more than you remember the wins, that’s for sure,” he said.
A game ball and a soggy jersey should jog his memory for at least one of them.