Around the Bases with Peter Gammons

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Hall-of-Fame baseball reporter Peter Gammons was the featured speaker for UNC's 2010 First Pitch Banquet. Inside Carolina was able to catch up with the North Carolina graduate after the event.

Can you discuss your perspective on UNC baseball from your time here at North Carolina to today under Coach Fox?

"Well in my days here the baseball did not get along much. They had one really good team in the ‘60s that got to the College World Series but college baseball was nowhere near as big as it is today. We used to say a lot, 'Why isn't Carolina a Top 20 program?' — and [Coach Fox] has obviously done that and the recruiting that they have done over the past few years is phenomenal. It has really been fun to watch too. They have come up with great players. It is really hard today because of the draft. You cannot blame Rick Porcello — he once asked me, 'Are you kind of ticked off that I did not go to Carolina?' and I replied ‘For 8.8 million dollars I could have passed up Geography 41 too.'"

Writer Buster Olney recently discussed in a column on how Major League Baseball should help college baseball. Is that a real possibility?

"I figured that he brought up a number of good ideas but I don't think it will ever happen. I just don't think that Major League Baseball cares about College Baseball. They have done everything they could do to pillage the Cape Cod League and summer leagues. I think it is a great idea to get more scholarships. I think there is a serious problem with the 11.7 scholarships. You very seldom see African American players and I think that it is something that baseball should expand and care more about, but I just don't think that they care too much about it. It is too bad because I think that the game is getting more and more popular all the time. I would like to see Major League Baseball do a better job making it easier for colleges to have wood bats."

With Major League Baseball Draft taking place before the College World Series and the Signing Deadline around August 15th - right before the beginning of the college semester – do you think that should and will be moved?

"I think you may see them move the signing deadline to the first of August. We all know that Scott Boras is going to take it to 11:59 pm - and I'm not singling out Scott, he is tremendous - but most agents will go down to the last second. It does not matter if the deadline is August 15th or August 1st or July 15th - that is when the deals are going to happen. I think that it would be better for all of baseball for the Major League teams and the college teams if the deadline was moved up say five or six weeks after the draft."

Do you think that it would be realistic for the Major League draft to take place after the College World Series?

"Well because the NCAA keeps moving the College World Series back - no."

What are the differences for a top prospect between signing with Major League Baseball and heading into the minor leagues or making the decision to compete in college?

"I think it depends on the individual. I think some guys are so mature that it does not take a great deal of adjustment and I think that Major League teams are doing a better job in terms of making the social adjustments. But at the same time I still believe that the majority of young players would be better suited to have the structure of college than be drifting in the minor leagues. Because there are a lot of Major League teams that don't do a good job as far as providing that structure that kids need. Lord knows I needed structure when I was 18. I think that the most of young players need it."

From your Major League perspective, what are your thoughts on the level of talented players Coach Fox is bringing to North Carolina?

"(UNC) did not attract in years past that kind of talent. Now sometimes they lose guys (to the draft) - two years ago they lost eight guys - but the talent … Andrew Miller easily could have been the first pick in the draft. If it was not for the phenomenon of (Stephen) Strasburg, Dustin Ackley could have been the first pick in the draft. As we know with the phenomenon of Joe Mauer versus Mark Prior, the second pick in the draft could turn out to be better than the first."

What is it like to come back to North Carolina to be the featured speaker for the First Pitch Banquet?

"It is a great thing that means a lot to me - I really care about the program and am very flattered to be asked to come and it has been a lot of fun watching the program grow. Hopefully one of these years soon they will win a national championship and I am sure they will. It has been great - I get a little lost here now, it is a little bigger than when I was here. But, it is a lot of fun."


For more on Gammons, read "From The Hill To the Hall" in the March Issue of the Inside Carolina Magazine.

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