44th annual Groundhog Day Luncheon kicks off Baseball season

Photo by Zak Wright / MTSU Sidelines

The Middle Tennessee baseball team held it’s annual Groundhog Day luncheon today in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom. The Raiders stayed with the tradition of serving ham hocks and beans and all tickets purchased benefited the MTSU baseball program.

The event started with Coach McGuire stating that Raider II didn’t see his shadow this morning. “I know [Punxsutawney Phil] saw his shadow this morning, but the clouds in Murfreesboro this morning should mean we hopefully can keep this spring weather until opening day.”

Coach McGuire introduced the 2017 edition of the Blue Raider baseball team today among President McPhee, Athletic Director Chris Massaro, Donors, and former players that are now playing at the professional level.  The former players present at the event were: Bryce Brent (Boston Red Sox), Hunter Adkins (Miami Marlins), Matt Blackham (New York Mets), Zac Curtis (Arizona Diamondbacks), Ronnie Jebavy (San Francisco Giants), Heath Slatton (San Francisco Giants), Johnathan Frebis (Chicago White Sox), Nathan Foriest (San Diego Padres), and Mike McKenry (Tampa Bay Rays).

Tony Stinnett, an MTSU Sidelines alum, was this years recipient of the coveted Railbird Jacket. (Zak Wright/MTSU Sidelines)

Former Blue Raider baseball writer for the Daily News Journal and current Assistant Director of Athletic Communications at MTSU Tony Stinnett was presented with the MTSU Baseball Railbird Jacket by coach McGuire.  Stinnett spent the first few years of coach McGuire’s tenure covering the team and helping promote the Blue Raider baseball brand and continues to do so today.

The Blue Raiders have had two groundhogs over the past 44 years. Raider one has been in retirement since 2003 and Raider two has been the trustee ever since.  This year, however, Coach McGuire unveiled a new team mascot, Raider three.  Raider three is a much larger cousin to Raider one and Raider two and is supposed to be seen frequently at Reese Smith Jr. Field this season.

“This is not a one time deal.  [Raider III] is going to be around at games, and you’ll see him a lot because he’s going to be our good luck charm.”

The Raiders start their season on February 17, where they will have a three game set in Statesboro with Georgia Southern.

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To contact Sports Editor Tyler Lamb (@Tlamb35), email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

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