Jan. 17, 2014
2014 Schedule | UTTIX.com
The start of the 2014 Tennessee baseball season is just 28 days away!
In January and February, UTSports.com will count down the days remaining until the start of the Vols' 2014 campaign (Feb. 14) with looks back at the many players who donned jersey numbers 30-1.
The baseball season in Knoxville kicks off On the diamond on Feb. 14 when the Vols host the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks at Lindsey Nelson Stadium at 4 p.m. With one of the youngest teams in the country in 2013, head coach Dave Serrano and company have the foundation in place on Rocky Top.
The 2014 slate is highlighted by 33 games in Knoxville, including nonconference matchups against Purdue (Feb. 15-16) and UNLV (Feb. 21-23). The Vols open with a 13-game homestand, starting things off with three straight days of doubleheader action.
In total, 23 Vols have worn No. 28. The jersey currently belongs to sophomore left-handed pitcher and Powell, Tenn., native Drake Owenby. Included in that mix is one of the best to ever pitch in Rocky Top, Mike Smithson (1975-76).
#28 MIKE SMITHSON
1974-76 | RHP | 6-8 | 215 lbs. | Centerville, Tenn. (Hickman County)
Mike Smithson was one of the best to ever toe the rubber in Knoxville. Over his career, Smithson wore No. 5, No. 28 and No. 42 with the Volunteers. A native of Centerville, Tenn., the 6-foot-8 Smithson was recruited and earned a basketball scholarship at the University of Tennessee. He played for Coach Ray Mears for three season with the likes of Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld. Smithson appeared in 16 basketball games for the Vols, netting 31 points and pulling down 25 rebounds over his career.
Playing catch one day, Smithson was spotted by UT baseball head coach Bill Wright, who asked him to try out for the freshmen team. Smithson obviously made the squad and went on to set multiple records for the Orange and White. He is the Vols' current leader in career winning percentage on the mound (Min. 14 decisions) with a 13-2 record and .867 winning percentage. His .800 (8-2) winning percentage in 1976 is tied for 10th in the Vols' single-season annals. He also picked up seven complete games that season, good for sixth in the record books. He earned All-SEC Eastern Division honors that season.
A fifth round draft pick by the Red Sox in the 1976 amateur draft, Smithson went on to play eight seasons in Major League Baseball for the Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. He compiled 76 wins, a 4.58 ERA, 41 complete games and 731 strikeouts in 1,356.1 innings pitched. Smithson won the 1987 World Series with the Minnesota Twins.
The Vol For Life was inducted into the Tennessee Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004 and named to UTs's All-Century Team in 2009.
MORE NOTES ON SMITHSON
- Played three seasons with the Tennessee basketball team under Coach Ray Mears
- Did color commentary for the Nashville Sound AAA team
- Current Athletic Director of Hickman County High School
#28 Drake Owenby
2013-14 | LHP | 6-2 | L/L | Powell, Tenn.
Sophomore pitcher Drake Owenby is the 23rd player to ever grace the No. 28 on the Tennessee baseball diamond. In his rookie season, he made 16 appearances, compiling a 2-1 record, two saves and 20 strikeouts in 27.1 innings pitched. Owenby, who's expected to be the Vols' closer this season, excelled this summer on the West Coast. Playing for the San Luis Obispo Blues of the California Collegiate League, Owenby dominated the late innings this summer, leading the league with eight saves and 50 strikeouts in just 26 innings pitched. The lefty finished the summer with a 1.01 ERA and was named a first-team Perfect Game Summer All-American.
NOTES FROM HIS BIO
- Played tight end, linebacker and defensive end for his high school football team that went 11-1 in 2010 and 12-2 in 2012.
- Caught 19 passes for 254 yards and six TDs and made 30 tackles in his three years on the Panthers' varsity squad.