BRADENTON -- Teammates.
They’re what make team sports special.
That was the theme of Friday night’s State College of Florida Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The Class of 2012 featured the first entire team, the 1988 volleyball squad, along with former baseball teammates in the late 1960s at what was then Manatee Junior College, Pat Osburn and Mac Scarce.
The baseball players went on to room with each other during their Florida State University careers before making it into Major League Baseball.
The former professional pitchers still keep in touch to this day, emphasizing the bond developed during their college heyday more than 40 years ago.
“Pat and I, we’ve kept in touch,” Scarce said. “Through pro ball, we kept in touch some. When he was at Cincinnati and I was in Philly, we’d see each other. ... We met here at Manatee, lifelong friend. It’s really great we’re going in on the same night.”
These days, major league pitchers use a combination of a curveball and slider, known as the slurve.
Scarce, though, was using the pitch to baffle hitters several decades ago because of a “tender elbow” he had while playing for legendary baseball coach Bob Wynn.
“When I started pitching again, I tried to develop something different other than a curveball that would relieve some strain on my elbow,” Scarce said. “So I started trying to think, throw a fastball, and then at the end just snap it. ... It was more of a fastball that broke down like a slider.”
Scarce’s ability to shut down opposing hitters is what made him a no-brainer for selection into the hall of fame as one of the college’s most dominant closers.
Meanwhile, Osburn said he resigned himself to not making to the hall because he played just one season at Manatee Junior College.
That one year, though, was quite special. He posted a 10-1 record with a 0.74 earned-run average, while earning all-conference and all-ctate honors as pitcher of the year in 1969.
The NJCAA All-American and Bradenton resident then took the next step to FSU.
“You couldn’t make me any happier to be in with Mac,” said Osburn about getting inducted this year. “I had always thought in my mind that it would be difficult for me to qualify, because even though I put up some good numbers, it was only one year. I’m competing against other people to get in that had put up great numbers, but they did it two years.”
While Osburn and Scarce, who lives in Atlanta, embodied the teammate bond throughout the years off the baseball diamond -- the pair still attend FSU football games -- the 1988 volleyball team did something the college had never done before.
That was winning a state championship. Miami-Dade has captured 40 state crowns, while just two other schools in Florida have hoisted the title.
But that ’88 team under Hall of Fame coach Sandy Holliman accomplished the feat. Team leaders included Sherry Lauria, Becky Thyhsen, Lisa Page and Leigh Ann Justice. Lauria was a first team National Junior College Athletic Association All-American, Page an honorable mention selection.
The Lancers tallied a 40-3 record on the way to finishing third in the nation. An early defeat to Miami-Dade motivated the group to reel off victory after victory leading up to the state title match against its nemesis.
It was especially memorable for Kelly Waterman, who works at the sports giant IMG Academies and lives in Bradenton.
“Cookie Stevens (Miami-Dade’s coach at the time) didn’t want me to play volleyball,” said Waterman, who originally went to Miami-Dade. “I was sitting 14th on her team and had a bad knee. Wouldn’t let me transfer, but finally was able to transfer. ... Every time we played them, they would be at the net saying stuff to us and we were saying stuff to them.”
The victory snapped Miami-Dade’s string of consecutive state titles at 19.