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 February 14, 2014

MARIANNA— Former Chipola baseball players returned to their alma mater for the annual Chipola College Baseball Alumni Weekend Feb. 7-8.

The college officially retired MLB All-Star Russell Martin’s number 12 Chipola jersey in a Feb. 8 ceremony. Martin hit a pair of solo home runs to lead his Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds in a season-ending wild card game on Oct. 1, 2013, to lead the Pirates to their first post-season appearance in 21 years.

A native of Ontario, Canada, Martin led Chipola to a second place finish in the 2002 Florida College System State tournament. He was drafted by the Dodgers in the 17th round that year. The three-time MLB All Star has won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards.  He spent five years in LA, before moving on the Yankees where he was starting catcher in 2011-12. He was catching for the Yankees when Mariano Rivera broke the all-time save record in 2011. In November, 2012, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Martin for two years and $17 million.

Mat Gamel, now a member of the Atlanta Braves, was the winner of the annual Alumni Home Run Derby. Jeff Mathis of the Miami Marlins, Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays, and former Chipola player Charlie Dees captained teams for the derby. Visiting big-leaguers also donated thousands in memorabilia to support the Chipola program. Several returning players participated in an MLB/MiLB autograph session.

An Alumni Social was hosted by Jason and Kim Barber at Circle S Ranch. An alumni dinner featured special guest speakers FSU assistant Mike Martin, Jr., and Troy head coach Bobby Pierce.

Chipola head Coach Jeff Johnson and members of the Baseball Alumni Committee—Nathan Marks (00’), Andrew Gay (07’), Jason Barber (06’)—organized the weekend’s events.

Coach Johnson, says, “We appreciate all the fans and former players who came out to support our program. These guys are so generous with their time and resources. It means a lot to our program.” 

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