Winning Golden Spikes Award a ‘full-circle moment’ for Georgia’s Charlie Condon

Charlie Condon and family during the Golden Spikes Award at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Ne., on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Kari Hodges/UGAAA)

Credit: Kari Hodges/UGAAA

Credit: Kari Hodges/UGAAA

Charlie Condon and family during the Golden Spikes Award at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Ne., on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Kari Hodges/UGAAA)

ATHENS – The upper trajectory of Charlie Condon’s career remained in launch mode over the weekend as the University of Georgia baseball star became the first Golden Spikes Award winner in school history.

The announcement was made Saturday night before the first game of the College World Series finals between Tennessee and Texas A&M in Omaha, Nebraska. Condon was chosen over co-finalists Hagen Smith, a pitcher from Arkansas, and infielder Travis Bazzana of Oregon State.

The Golden Spikes is considered the highest honor in amateur baseball. Candidates come from every level of competition, including high school, NAIA and junior college as well as all divisions of NCAA play. But only twice in the 46-year history of the award has the honor not gone to a DI baseball player.

Few previous winners can match the rags-to-riches storyline that Condon offers. He came to UGA from Marietta’s Walker School as a walk-on, was redshirted, gained 20 pounds through intensive training and set the school’s career home run record in just two seasons on the field.

“It’s definitely a full-circle moment,” Condon said after receiving the award Saturday night. It started with a process at Georgia, something I was committed to. I was lucky to have people around me that were committed to it, too, and that’s kind of what I’ve been preaching this whole time. This is an individual recognition but it’s a big representation of a phenomenal season for the Georgia Bulldogs and a step in the right direction for our program.”

Condon claiming the Golden Spikes Award was a slam dunk. A consensus All-America selection, Condon was awarded last week with the Dick Howser Trophy, widely considered the Heisman Trophy of college baseball. Earlier this month, he was named the recipient of the Bobby Bragan National Collegiate Slugger Award and the Player of the Year by Baseball America and Perfect Game.

This past season, Condon led Division I baseball with a 37 home runs – the most since bats were changed in 2011 – giving him a school record 62 with the Bulldogs. He currently leads college baseball in batting average (.433), slugging percentage (1.009), total bases (233) and OPS (1.565). The 2024 SEC Player of the Year, he ranks third nationally in on-base percentage (.566) while posting a team-high 57 walks, including 28 intentional free passes.

Condon had seven multi-home run games and homered in eight consecutive contests from April 26-May 9, one shy of the NCAA record. He made starts at third base, first base and all three outfield positions. Condon helped lead eighth-ranked Georgia to a 43-17 mark and one win shy of advancing to the College World Series in Wes Johnson’s first year at the helm.

“It’s hard to put into words, what a great person Charlie is,” Johnson said in a statement provided by the school. “He’s got great parents and he’s a tremendously hard worker. What he did for our program this year, he elevated our program and elevated the game that he plays. He moved around positions in the fall and that ultimately helped him as a baseball player. And now to see the result, it’s impressive. For him to win the Golden Spikes Award, he will have that for the rest of his life.”

Condon was in Omaha all last week with his family. They attended several awards banquets and took in CWS games at Charles Schwab Field. He also took home the Dick Howser Award as the national college baseball writers’ DI player of the year. Twenty Golden Spikes winners also have won the Howser.

There wasn’t much time for celebration in Omaha as Condon is busy getting ready for next month’s Major League Baseball draft. He projects to be as one of the first few players taken.

“We did have a celebratory beer in the hotel lobby,” said his father, Jim Condon. “It’s a little surreal. All (his mother) Rebecca and I wished for was Charlie to get an opportunity and to stay healthy. We never saw the experience of this past season coming. We are so happy he will always be able to call Athens home. We are looking forward to seeing what is next for the Dawgs as they build on this past season.”

Condon credited his parents for positioning him for success.

“The sacrifices they make for me and my family, I like to shine the light on them because so much of this has to do with them and their support for me,” he told reporters in Omaha. “… I don’t know that I would have let myself even think of something like this. That’s just a testament to saying you never know what you’re capable of until you really get into it.”

As for his last season at UGA, Condon said, “it’s something I’ll never forget. I’ll always be a ‘Dawg,’ no matter where this summer takes me. I will always come back and be a UGA fan. My blood will always run red and black. A huge thank you to everybody who has come to the ballpark and supported Georgia baseball.”

Condon is the fifth Bulldog to become a Golden Spikes finalist. The others were shortstop Gordon Beckham (2008), pitcher Dave Fleming (1990), pitcher Cris Carpenter (1987) and pitcher/designated hitter Derek Lilliquist (1987). Condon is the 11th winner from the SEC.

Former Atlanta Braves star Bob Horner, who played at Arizona State, was the first to take home the Golden Spikes Award in 1978. He became the first overall pick in the MLB draft and went right to the big leagues, where he won the 1978 National League Rookie of the Year for the Braves

Fourteen of the Golden Spikes recipients have been full-time pitchers, eight winners have been outfielders, 16 have been infielders and four were catchers.