Tonight the Florida State Athletics Hall of Fame will welcome eight new members to its prestigious club. I’d like to quickly touch on three of these members for their contributions to the FSU community and the inspiration they’ve made on my life.
At FSU, Matt Diaz hit .384 with 43 home runs and 178 RBIs. He went on to play 11 years in Major League Baseball with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Miami Marlins. I’ve never met Matt, but I have had the pleasure of meeting his brother, Christian singer Jonny, who some say was the better ballplayer of the two. If that’s true, that’s a hell of a baseball family coming out of Lakeland, Florida. Tonight, Matty gets his due for his contributions not only at FSU but also for expanding the FSU brand in professional baseball.
Dr. Joanne Graf
If there is a fair comparison to what #11 (Mike Martin) has contributed to FSU Baseball, the closest you will find is Dr. Graf’s work not only with FSU Softball but with the FSU student body as a whole. Dr. Graf had a 30 year career building FSU Softball from the ground up, winning two AIAW (now NCAA) National Championships along with 10 Atlantic Coast Conference titles. She was named ACC Coach of the Year six times and posted a career winning percentage of .750 during her time at FSU, but I can assure you that her teachings reached out to way more than 3 out of 4 of her students. I had the privilege of taking several coaching classes taught by Dr. Graf during my education at FSU and many of the lessons she learned during her 30 years at the school were effectively passed down to the next generation of potential coaches through her unique communication style.
I had to include Seabass on this list as he is a symbol of what FSU was known for in the 1990s, hard work and even harder partying. Nobody can outdrink “the keg”. Nobody. The native of Poland arrived in Tallahassee via Seabreeze High School where he was a soccer player with an outstanding leg, and during his three years at FSU he won back-to-back Lou Groza Awards, handed out to the nation’s top placekicker. He was also a two-time All-American who proved pivotal during FSU’s wire-to-wire 1999 National Championship. And oh yeah, he parlayed that into a pretty decent career in the National Football League with the Oakland Raiders where he currently holds the record for longest field goal (63 yards), most 60-yard-plus field goals in a career (2), most 50-yard field goals in a game (3) and most 40-yard field goals in a game (4). He is also the leading all-time scorer for the Oakland Raiders and continues to crush beers as often as he crushes kicks.
Also going into the FSU Athletics Hall of Fame tonight are former football players Jamal Reynolds and Sammie Smith, women’s golfer Karen Stupples, women’s soccer athlete Cindy Schofield, and former Seminole Booster and volunteer Douglas Mannheimer.
Congratulations to all and GO NOLES!