ST. PETERSBURG -- Taylor Motter tore his Rays pullover off and tossed it to the ground. He shouted as each of his teammates on the outfield grass warming up on Thursday chuckled and ignored him. It didn't matter to the utility man and only active player in Major League Baseball
ST. PETERSBURG -- Taylor Motter tore his Rays pullover off and tossed it to the ground. He shouted as each of his teammates on the outfield grass warming up on Thursday chuckled and ignored him. It didn't matter to the utility man and only active player in Major League Baseball who went to Coastal Carolina; his arms were raised high above his head watching his old school celebrate a national championship.
Every player was on the outfield turf, trying warm up for batting practice with divided attention. The Jumbotron above was playing the bottom of the ninth of the College World Series. There were runners on second and third with two outs, and Coastal Carolina was up by one over Arizona.
With each pitch, players stopped playing catch to watch the game. Groans and cheers came as the players grew more invested with every passing second. Some shouted "walk-off" as in an attempt to rattle Motter, who would go through the rest of batting practice in a turquoise Chanticleers shirt.
"They knew," Motter said. "They knew I was going to be the loud guy in the locker room after this. I'm just glad they got through it."
Motter played at Coastal Carolina from 2009-11, and he helped lead the Chanticleers to the Super Regionals in 2010. Only 11 CCU players have reached the Major Leagues, but Motter, who was selected by the Rays in the 17th round of the '11 Draft, is the only one on an active roster. The Chanticleers shocked the college baseball world by winning its first national title, capping it off with a 4-3 win over Arizona on Thursday.
The final game was supposed to be played on Wednesday night. Motter, who is still close with the CCU coaching staff, had asked the Hilton Hotel for the Internet password to watch on his phone during the Rays Runway event. But it was delayed for several hours by rain and lightning before being postponed. He watched most of the game on Thursday in the clubhouse and celebrated the finale on the field.
"Clemson, South Carolina, North Carolina in that area steal everybody," Motter said. "So we get the blue collar guys that are there to work. They proved it during this whole run. They're just grinders who are trying to win baseball games. That's what we get and that's what we win with."
Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.