A Very Candid Interview With The Boss Man

Tommy Boss played a considerable role in helping Florida advance farther than any team in school history, playing for the national championship. His dominating, complete game, 8-1, victory over hated Florida State in the NCAA Super Regionals set the stage for a sweep of the Seminoles and a trip to the College World Series.

This is the first of a two-part interview with now former Florida pitcher Tommy Boss. Today, The Boss Man talks about the fan support, his shoulder, the CWS, and he even has a comment about football coach Urban Meyer. Tomorrow, the 6-2, 215-pound Dunnellon native will discuss Coach Mac, the CWS experience, and his long term future.

Mark McLeod: Tommy, you guys went further than any team in Florida history. By season's end there was an awfully lot of support for you guys out there. How noticeable was that to you out there?

Tommy Boss: Oh man, I played high school football and I remember how our fans got into the games. This was special. Our fans were rowdy. I go to all of our football games and I'm telling you it had a football like atmosphere. There's really no other way to describe it. It had that feel. We knew the crowd was there and we actually felt like we finally got to play in a football like environment. It was amazing.

Mark McLeod: Speaking of football, you guys were aware that Coach Meyer and his family were at nearly every game down the stretch?

Tommy Boss: I remember seeing him after one of our games. I didn't know that he was at all of the others. It's great to have him out there. He's a baseball guy. I've only met him once and he seemed like a really nice guy. I'm so excited about our football team. He (Meyer) won my respect when he took the time to send an E-mail to 40,000 students, introducing himself and asking for our support of the football team. That says something about him.

Mark McLeod: How did the revelation of the injury come about and what is the latest?

Tommy Boss: Well, I was up there (Boston) going through the physical with three other guys who they (Red Sox) had flown in. The doctor was testing the strength of my arm. I was standing with both arms out straight in front of me and he pressed down on them. My right arm held up for a few seconds and went down. I couldn't hold it up like my left arm. He did it again and he said, "Well, I see that you threw 100 innings this year, so this type of thing is sort of common. I'm sure there's nothing wrong with you but I just want a precautionary MRI to see what the deal is.

I didn't think anything of it and sure enough two days later they said, "Well, you've got a torn Labum in your shoulder. We're not in a financial position to take a risk signing a guy like you. There are other teams that will take that chance on you. I understood the business side of the situation, but I just didn't see how I had a torn Labum and pitched so well the whole season.

Mark McLeod: Where do you go from here Tommy?

Tommy Boss: Well, I'm just waiting to go to another team. I'm waiting for Coach Jones … he's out to town right now. I met with our doctor Wednesday and he said, "I don't even need to examine you." I said, are you serious? He said, "There's nothing wrong with you. It's common. If you take an MRI to every single pitcher there's going to be some sort of tear or fraying in their shoulder. If I were you I'd just go out there and find another team. There are plenty of teams out there, who would be willing to get a chance." They are sending the MRI down to our doctor, so that he can see what they were looking at just to be sure. They said it would take about a week and a half. Once our doctor looks over the MRI, I'll know for certain if there is a significant tear or if it's just a little fraying.

The whole thing was a shock. I still do all of the same things throwing and strengthening. I've never had any pain. Nothing even bothers me. When they said that, I was just shocked. It just doesn't make sense.

Mark McLeod: You'd think a team like Tampa Bay, which can't throw strikes, would be willing to bring you down there, because that's exactly what you do and get a lot of ground ball outs?

Tommy Boss: Yeah, I need to call them and see if I can go down there.

Mark McLeod: You're a guy that if you had five more miles per hour on your fastball, you'd have 15 teams knocking on your door?

Tommy Boss: Yeah. Well, apparently there are some teams after me because Coach Jones talked to our trainers about getting an MRI for me but they're not cheap, so we're just going to wait for this one to come down. There must be some interest for them to request to see the MRI.

Mark McLeod: Let's talk about the College World Series experience. What was it like to take down Nebraska in their own backyard?

Tommy Boss: Oh man, that was crazy. I can honestly say that when I pitch, especially our home crowd, I try not to let the crowd get to me. I block that out. Otherwise, you're going to struggle. But, when I pitched that Nebraska game the first inning I gave up a couple of hits in a row and those people were banging on the wall out there in the outfield. Man, could I hear it. I turned around and blocked it out, but I've never heard it so loud in a game like that, and there were 27,000 people there.

Mark McLeod: What do you take away from the experience of playing out there?

Tommy Boss: Going out there, I knew that we had a chance. I was most afraid of Tennessee. We had seen them the whole year and I knew how great of a team they were. I was kind of upset that we drew them first game. I just knew that if we got past them, then we had a chance to make a run at it. Sure enough, Alan came out and threw a great game and we ended up winning that game. The plan worked. We were happy to be out there. Don't get me wrong we wanted it, but making it out there is just an incredible feeling. I hope that everybody understands that.

Mark McLeod: Has it sunk in? You guys were in the national title game.

Tommy Boss: I was thinking about that today talking to the kids at the camp. We were in the national championship game for the College World Series. I was talking to the little kids and said, you know we did do pretty good this year. We were all disappointed that we lost, but I'm starting to think well, Wow. There were 64 teams and we made it to the final two. Not bad at all for a team that was picked to finish third in the East by the SEC Coaches. Everybody underestimated us the whole season.

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