The president of Georgia State University gave his baseball coach a new car Tuesday morning. Two hours later, Greg Frady showed a visitor the fruits of his team’s victory in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament – a snazzy red-and-white convertible about six inches long and two inches high.
OK, so the gift of a model car wasn’t quite like winning the showcase on “The Price Is Right,” but it was a nice gesture by Mark Becker, the president who got so pumped he sent his coach text messages between CAA tournament games. And this week has the potential to be better still: The Georgia State Panthers are going to what their coach calls “baseball heaven.”
Friday night will mark GSU’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament, and it will come in a ballpark two miles from Panther headquarters. Georgia State plays Georgia Tech at Russ Chandler Stadium, and Frady knows a grand opportunity is at hand.
“The Atlanta community will be paying attention to this game,” Frady said, “and it’s a big stage for Georgia State. We’ve not been on this NCAA regional stage. It’s old hat to Georgia Tech.”
In the crowded Atlanta market, about the only way for Georgia State to leave a footprint is to stomp on one of the bigger local programs. Lefty Driesell’s basketball team did it in 2000 and 2001, twice beating Jim Harrick’s Georgia Bulldogs, and now Frady’s club – which has already whipped the Jackets once this season – has a chance to make a similar lasting impression.
Frady, who’s in his third season as GSU’s head coach, is an interesting guy. He grew up in Ellijay and played five different sports alongside John Davis, who became an All-American lineman at Tech. (Indeed, the two were inducted concurrently into Gilmer County High School’s Hall of Fame three years ago.) Once the president of the Madison, Fla., Rotary Club, Frady is now the coach of the German national baseball team.
Asked to name the greatest German baseball player ever, he mentions Kai Gronauer, who’s a catcher in the New York Mets’ organization. As primed as GSU might be for the NCAA, Frady claims the games won’t carry any more heat than, say, Germany facing Russia.
Said Frady: “Baseball is an interesting game. Except for a sliding-type play, you never touch the other team. You only play the ball. Our focus has to be to play the ball and play the ball well.”
Yes, his name is Frady and he coaches the Panthers, but he’s no ’fraidy cat: “I’m more than thrilled to put the product we have at Georgia State on the field Friday night … When we go into a game, we think we can beat any team in the country.”
On Friday night, Georgia State will endeavor to beat the most prestigious college team in Fulton County. “Being on this side of the fence, Georgia Tech is the big brother in town,” Frady said. “Anytime you’ve got a chance to do something that garners your big brother’s respect, it’s a wonderful opportunity. Our people are paying attention because of that. I love that.”