Esposito Excited to Join Tanner's Staff

When the Gamecocks promoted Monte Lee to Recruiting Coordinator, they were less one volunteer assistant. That position was filled recently and Ray Tanner didn't have to look far. Baseball is a tightly wound fraternity. Coaches and players stay in touch, rarely burning bridges. Tanner dipped into that fraternity and found a promising young man to fill the void, Sammy Esposito.

Only one coach, Sammy Esposito, has more career victories at N.C. State than Ray Tanner. From 1967 to 1987, Coach Esposito won 513 games in Raleigh. Ray Tanner, his successor, won 395, before moving on to South Carolina.

When Tanner took over the N.C. State program, Coach Esposito had a seven year old son who wanted to play ball like his Dad – a Major Leaguer of eleven years. Growing up on Doak Field, Sammy, Jr. would begin to fulfill his dreams in 1998. Coach Tanner was gone now, but he'd letter four years as a catcher and corner infielder at N.C. State. The son of an ex-major leaguer and successful head coach while spending time at catcher, Sammy fit the bill as a "student of the game."

After playing four years and completing his degree at N.C. State, he began coaching. A volunteer assistant at Georgia Southern, and current Assistant Coach of the Yarmouth Dennis Red Sox in the Cape Cod League, Esposito hit the proverbial jackpot when the man who succeeded his father in Raleigh made the phone call.

"I had been in contact with Coach Tanner throughout the summer trying to move on career wise. He had told me Coach Toman had left and he said he wasn't sure with his situation," explained Esposito, "Then he called me a few nights ago and talked to me about the job after he promoted Coach Lee."

Moving to South Carolina is a huge step up for the exuberant young coach. (South carolina has)"the best coaches, in my opinion, and one of the best programs in the country," says Esposito, "the best players who I get to work with on a daily basis – ya' know? It's obviously a step up. It's just a great situation. Other coaches I've spoken to all said the same thing – it's a no-brainer."

His position will be that of a broad-based assistant, not specializing in one specific area. However, growing up behind the plate and on the corners of the infield, Coach Esposito has a nice surprise waiting for him in Columbia. There's returning catcher Trent Kline, part-time catcher and full time All-SEC DH Phil Disher, oh and then there are those corner infielders – two of the most promising young stars in the nation Justin Smoak and James Darnell. One is representing his nation currently (Smoak) while the other is on an opposing team in the competitive Cape League (Darnell).

"I know a good bit about the Gamecocks. I'm actually coaching against a few of the guys up here right now," says Esposito, "The last two regular season games we had were against Reese Havens and Mike Cisco. I'm familiar with Darnell."

Asked about the prospects of working with Darnell, Smoak, Havens and others, Esposito replied, "Those guys are some of the best. Havens has numbers up here in the Cape that are up there with the best right now."

With rains pouring down in Cape Cod, enough to cancel the Yarmouth Dennis Red Sox first playoff game, the newest member of the Ray Tanner stable gleefully said, "Not only am I going to the best conference, but arguably the best program in that conference."

It's true in this case; the apple does not fall far from the tree, after all. Congratulations, Coach Esposito, and welcome to Columbia.

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