There was laughter, some tears and one obvious link expressed between all three inductee speeches at Thursday’s State College of Florida Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony at IMG Academy Golf Club.
And that link was family.
Nick Goody became the youngest Hall of Fame member, at the age of 25, in the history of the junior college, while Josh Renick and Harry Saferight represented the other two newly inducted members.
Each inductee spoke about how they were honored for their inclusion as the Class of 2017, while evoking the family concept when describing their time at the Bradenton campus.
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Goody is a current Major League Baseball player, who was designated for assignment by the New York Yankees during the offseason. He is on Cleveland’s 40-man roster and will have a chance to join its bullpen out of spring training.
Prior to his time in pro baseball, he completed his college career at LSU. But his time at SCF is what brought out the family concept.
Assistant coach Barry Batson officiated his wedding to his high school sweetheart, Kate, in November, while head coach Tim Hill II was also there. Goody said Batson and Hill II are like older brothers, while his head coach during his time at SCF, Tim Hill, was like a grandfather.
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up and knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up and knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will be starved. It doesn't matter whether you are the lion or the gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running.
SCF Hall of Fame inductee Nick Goody on one of former coach Tim Hill’s words of the day
Renick also played for Hill, affectionately referred to by more recent generations as “Seven.”
He credits Hill for giving him a chance to play after he blew out his left knee in his senior season at Sarasota Riverview.
“I thought it was over,” Renick said. “Coach Hill, he had been recruiting me. He watched me play my sophomore and junior years. ... And when I got hurt, I thought my dreams were crushed. But Coach Hill gave me the opportunity.”
That opportunity turned into a gold mine for what was then called Manatee Community College.
Renick set the single-season and career stolen base record in 1999, his sophomore season in Bradenton. His 72 steals that season gave him 81 for his two-year career, and it hasn’t been match by anyone since.
“A lot of pitchers get into rhythms and routines,” said Renick, who played professionally for eight seasons. “Once you figure out the routine, you get his timing down and take off running.”
Former athletic director and athletic trainer, SCF Hall of Famer George Sanders, inducted Renick on Thursday. During his speech to the many in attendance, he spoke about Renick being a gamer.
There was no better example of this than the story Sanders told about Renick playing the 1999 JUCO World Series with a broken arm. Originally thought of as an ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL for short, injury, Renick kept playing.
“That’s who he was,” Sanders said.
Like Goody did before him, Renick spoke about the family aspect that MCC had on him.
Saferight also detailed that family culture, despite playing during the early years of the program under former head coach Bob Wynn. Saferight was one of several Richmond, Va., natives that Wynn brought to what was then known as Manatee Junior College in the late 1960s.
There were just four sophomores on the team in 1968 when Saferight, a catcher, arrived with the rest of the “Richmond Boys.”
That year’s team reached the JUCO World Series, and the group continued with success in 1969 before several headed to Florida State University to wrap up their college careers.
They led the Seminoles to a runner-up finish in the College World Series in 1970, losing to Southern Cal in 14 innings.
Later, he spent several years in the minors before getting a chance to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979, which was the last year the Buccos won the World Series.
“They call me the phantom big leaguer,” Saferight said. “I got called up at the end of ’79, and they were going for the division to go to the playoffs. ... I was in the on-deck circle three times. Double play, makes the last out and my chance, after spending eight years in Triple-A, doesn’t happen.”
In his speech, Saferight mentioned how when all his former FSU guys get together, eight of them are MJC guys and they always share stories of their time in Bradenton.
And that’s the culture that was created by Wynn, continued by Hill and is present with Hill II leading the current batch of SCF Manatees.
Goody closed his speech with one of Hill’s words of the day called, “The Lion and the Gazelle.”
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up and knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed,” Goody said. “Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up and knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will be starved. It doesn’t matter whether you are the lion or the gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running.”