ECCC baseball season begins with First Pitch Dinner Feb. 2

From press reports

East Central Community College’s baseball program officially ushers in the new season with the annual First Pitch Dinner scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, in Mabry Memorial Cafeteria on the Decatur campus.

Andy Phillips, an assistant baseball coach at the University of Alabama, will serve as guest speaker. “Coach Phillips is an exceptional person who also experienced success as a collegiate and professional baseball player, and now as a coach,” said ECCC head baseball coach Neal Holliman.

“We look forward to hearing about his experiences as well as his guidance and motivation on what it takes to be a successful baseball player.”

Phillips is a former baseball standout for the Crimson Tide and followed that success with a five-year stint in Major League Baseball.

He is in his third year as hitting and infield coach for Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard.

“We are very fortunate to have Andy on our staff,” said Coach Gaspard. “He was a phenomenal player here, and I couldn’t be happier with his decision to return to Alabama. Andy is the most well rounded person I have ever coached, and been around.”

A four-year letter winner (1996-99) and first-team All-American for Alabama (1999), Phillips played for the New York Yankees (2004-07), New York Mets (2008) and Cincinnati Reds (2008) during his Major League Baseball career.

In his four seasons at Alabama, Phillips posted a career .356 batting average with 61 home runs, 224 RBIs and 322 hits.

He ended his career as the all-time leader in home runs, RBIs and hits, and currently holds the school record in home runs, hits and total bases (590).

In the history of the Alabama baseball program, Philips is one of three players with 50 home runs and 200 RBIs, and one of four players with 300 hits.

The Crimson Tide advanced to the NCAA Tournament all four years of Phillips’ career, including three College World Series appearances. He is one of two players to make three CWS appearances. As a freshman in 1996, Phillips was part of a 50-19 squad that captured the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the College World Series.

Phillips was a seventh-round draft pick by the New York Yankees in 1999. He made his Major League debut on Sept. 14, 2004, and in his first at-bat, he belted a home run over the Green Monster in Fenway Park on the first pitch from Terry Adams.

He is one of seven players (EC alumnus Marcus Thames of Louisville is also included in the prestigious group) to homer in his first at-bat as a Yankee and became the 21st player in MLB history to hit a home run on the first pitch of his career.

Phillips is a native of Tuscaloosa but later moved to Demopolis, where he played baseball for the Demopolis Academy Generals. He was a 41st-round selection out of high school by the Milwaukee Brewers as a shortstop in 1995 but instead joined the Crimson Tide baseball program.

He and his wife, Bethany, have a daughter, Isaiah.

Tickets to the ECCC First Pitch Dinner are $25 for adults and $15 for children age 12 and under. For more information, contact Coach Neal Holliman, 601-635-6374 or call toll free, 877-462-3222, ext. 374. The e-mail address is nholliman@eccc.edu.