It’s been a good few months for Virginia Tech athletics. There’s the success of both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, wrestling, softball, track and field, and football, with new head coach Brent Pry.
But don’t forget about Virginia Tech’s baseball team. The Hokies entered Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Panthers with a record of 10-6 on the 2022 season. The Hokies began the year with a 10-1 mark before a recent five-game losing streak.
To give his team some good luck, Virginia Tech coach John Szefc had a special visitor before Saturday’s game against Pitt. It was MLB legend Cal Ripken Jr.
If you aren’t familiar with Ripken, let’s speed you up. Baseball’s all-time “Iron Man,” Ripken played in 2,632 consecutive games, breaking Lou Gehrig’s record. It’s one of those records that will likely never be surpassed. Ripken was more than that, finishing his legendary career with 431 home runs, 1,695 RBI, 3,184 hits, 1,647 runs scored, and won two Gold Glove and eight Silver Slugger Awards.
He was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 with over 98% of the vote.
Why was he in Blacksburg? Szefc was the head coach at Maryland for five seasons from 2013-17 before taking over in Blacksburg. It’s likely the two have a connection from Szefc’s time there.
There’s no better way to prep for a Marvel Day game than with himself.— Virginia Tech Baseball (@HokiesBaseball) March 20, 2022
Thank you, @CalRipkenJr, for your pregame chat with us today!#Hokies ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/hp8Nc4A5Hu
Apparently, Ripken’s speech went great as the Hokies rolled to a 22-6 win over Pitt Saturday and completed the series with a 7-1 win Sunday.
It’s always cool to see one of the all-time greats in Blacksburg. Perhaps the Hokies can keep Ripken around for more pre-game speeches.
Virginia Tech is now 12-6 and hosts Radford Tuesday, before opening a weekend series at Notre Dame next weekend.