BY BILL MURPHY
Micah Owings would rather avoid the public spotlight for his individual accomplishments. But Gainesville High’s most decorated baseball player in school history was front and center of a packed house at Gainesville High’s gym to have his baseball jersey retired Saturday night during halftime of the boys’ basketball game against East Hall.
Owings’ jersey was retired during basketball season with consideration of his departure for spring training with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the coming weeks.
Owings, a 2002 Gainesville High grad, joins Cris Carpenter and Victor Menocal as the only Red Elephants baseball players to have their jersey number officially retired.
During the ceremony, Owings’ stood flanked by family with a framed No. 25 jersey, the number he wore for Gainesville.
The high school statistics compiled by the current starting pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks are mind-boggling.
He finished his high school career with 69 home runs, just one shy of the current record, and a .446 batting average. He also holds the pitching record with 121 strikeouts and only three walks allowed as a senior. Owings’ record as a senior was 12-1.
"This is a tremendous honor," Owings said. "I love the tradition and great people at Gainesville High.
"I’ll always remember those guys I played with, those extra batting practice sessions and those two jumps in the lake after winning state championships."
According to Gainesville baseball coach Wayne Vickery, the status of having a jersey retired for the Red Elephants is reserved for players who reached the professional ranks.
"I know it’s quite an honor for Micah and his family," Vickery said. "But like I’ve always said the best thing about him is he’s just as good of a person as he is a baseball player."
And it appears Owings’ transition to the professional game has been a smooth adjustment after finishing his rookie season with the Diamondbacks with an 8-8 record, 4.30 ERA and even started Game 4 in the NLCS against the Colorado Rockies.
But what surprised many of the pundits was the offensive production he could provide at the No. 9 spot in the order. He finished the season with a .333 average, four home runs and 15 RBIs en route to earning the Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award.