Just to be sure that you didn’t miss something in team transactions, box scores or when you fell asleep before the late SportsCenter came on one night, here are some sports tidbits and newsworthy nuggets from recent days.
Bowers back on the field
It might have slipped under the radar (or north of the border) around The T&D region, but former Bamberg-Ehrhardt standout and Clemson All-American defensive end Da’Quan Bowers has a new football team and even a new jersey number in a country that is new to him.
Bowers played his first game for the Canadian Football League’s Edmondton Eskimos on Saturday, collecting 3 tackles and a sack in a 30-27 win against the British Columbia Lions.
The 2011 second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is taking his latest opportunity and running with it, even making a fresh start with jersey number 92 (after having worn 93 at Clemson and 91 at Tampa Bay).
In fact, after Saturday’s win, Bowers tweeted out the message “Great team win, back to work for the next week.”
And later, when someone tweeted the backhanded compliment “Bowers was trash in the NFL, but he’s playing real good in the CFL,” Bowers simply replied “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
It’s great to know the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Bowers is back making stops near the line of scrimmage, after not being on an active roster the past two years.
Gardner getting it done in New York
After playing at a blistering statistical pace through May as the starting left fielder for the New York Yankees, former Holly Hill Academy standout Brett Gardner settled in for a solid June.
Even though the 2016 Gold Glove winner has seen his season batting average drop from .289 in mid-May to .253 as of Wednesday, Gardner is still a highly-productive part of the lineup. On Friday night, for example, the former College of Charleston star crushed a solo homer in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie the game at 1-1 with Texas and force extra innings. That was his 14th homer of the season, and we aren’t even to the all-star break. By comparison, 14 is twice as many homers as Gardner had last season, and just three shy of his career-best 17 round-trippers in 2014.
To make things even more interesting, the New York Post had a story earlier this month about how the former college walk-on is the only Yankees position player drafted by New York between retired Yankee great Derek Jeter in 1992 and current rookie sensation Aaron Judge (drafted in 2013, has 26 homers in 73 games) to become a solid, every-day player for the club.
The article pointed out that Gardner, the next-to-last pick in the third round of the MLB draft in 2005, has played all of his career as a Yankee (1,137 games as of Wednesday). By comparison, the other position players drafted by New York from 1993-2008 played a combined total of 1,021 games (and counting, with current Yankee Austin Romine in that group).
Playing for a franchise that for decades has bought better players from other teams, instead toiling away at building up homegrown talent, Gardner is (according to the New York Post) an “oasis in the positional wasteland between Judge and Jeter.”
Yeah, there is Gardner with a .263 career batting average, up to 33 RBI this season, along with 49 runs scored (seventh in the American League) and 10 stolen bases (10th in the American League).
Still hard to believe that the Yankees were going to scout C of C pitcher Brett Harker (now the head coach at Furman) when they first happened upon Gardner and were impressed enough by his aggressive approach to the game and his play to draft him.
Wise choice! Now, in his ninth season, Gardner is the senior player on the team and has the locker of honor at the end of the Yankee home clubhouse.
Godley picking up steam
Entering his start on the mound at home against the St. Louis Cardinals late Wednesday night, former Bamberg-Ehrhardt pitcher Zack Godley carried a 3-1 record this season in nine starts for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Through three earlier games this month, Godley allowed just 6 total earned runs as he picked up a home win against Milwaukee, no decision in a road win at Philadelphia, and a win at Colorado last Thursday.
Godley gave up a home run to the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon in the first inning, but then shut down the home team for the remainder of the first seven-plus innings. In fact, the former Tennessee Vol retired 19 of 20 batters during a stretch, before giving up a single and double to lead off the bottom of the eighth.
Three runs on four hits, while picking up eight strikeouts, was a great stat line for Godley.
Of course, the former Red Raider standout helped himself out with an RBI-single in the top of the eighth, showing it was the right decision to keep him in the game late.
Through nine starts this season, Godley entered this week with a 2.53 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 58 innings pitched.
What a difference a year makes – last year Arizona had Godley bobbing back and forth, from the big club to the minors. Last week, the Diamondbacks rearranged their starting rotation just so he could face the first-place Rockies.
Remembering Brother Joe
His name was Joe Frazier, but around Orangeburg and especially Garden City Christian School, he was known as Brother Joe.
A native of Walterboro, he built the GCCS athletic program from its start into one of the strongest in the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools during the 1980s.
During his decade heading up Crusaders athletics, he coached teams to six state titles (3 volleyball, 2 girls basketball and 1 softball), 10 conference championships (4 girls basketball, 2 volleyball and 2 boys basketball). His teams were also rewarded six sportsmanship trophies.
On the varsity level, Frazier coached boys basketball, girls basketball, softball and volleyball to a combined 251 wins.
But, having accomplished all that by age 33, Frazier wasn't known for sports alone. In fact, he was known and appreciated for his care and concern for each young person's life. He made it a point that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ was far more important than playing well enough to get your name in the newspaper, earning a win, or taking home a trophy.
When he left his numerous positions of service at GCCS and Garden City Baptist Church, it was to continue serving the Lord as an assistant pastor in Johnson City, Tennessee. Frazier later served as pastor at three other churches across Tennessee.
Sadly, Brother Joe passed away three weeks ago at the age of 60. The response on Facebook from former students, parents and teachers ranged from appreciation to heartbreak.
GCCS closed its doors in the late 1990s. But, the example of Brother Joe and the lessons taught there before the final days live on.
They live on in the lives of former Crusaders athletes and non-athletes alike, who recall the discipline he taught on the court, the words of encouragement he spoke throughout each day, and the songs of faith and a true Christian walk that he often sang at school assemblies.
For him, the game here is over. But (as was often the case) Brother Joe is on the winning side, especially with a decade of teams from Orangeburg having been impacted by both his leadership and friendship.