|Baseball players win Tug McGraw scholarships
RELEASED: March 24, 2005
DANVILLE, KYWhen former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw died of brain cancer on January 5, 2004, he left a legacy, both on the fieldas one of baseball's greatest relief pitchersand offwith the Tug McGraw Diamond 45 Scholarships.
Two Centre College baseball players received McGraw scholarships this year: senior center fielder Chris Bennett, a psychobiology major from Louisville, and junior shortstop Michael Pangallo, a double major in mathematics and computer science from Cold Spring, Ky.
According to the Tug McGraw Foundation, the Diamond 45 program, which provides scholarships for college varsity baseball and softball players, was established to further Tug McGraw's strong belief in the value of higher education, as well as support those playing the game he loved.
To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be enrolled in an NCAA division I, II or III college or university; have a GPA of 3.0 or above; be actively involved in community service; and demonstrate leadership. The scholarship's mission is to encourage student-athletes to become leaders and carry McGraw's positive, "Ya Gotta Believe" spirit in their personal and professional lives. (McGraw is credited with having coined the phrase "ya gotta believe" while with the Mets.)
"I feel privileged that I can be honored for both my schoolwork and the effort I put into baseball," Pangallo says.
Bennett says, "I'm extremely excited about winning this scholarship. Tug's message of "Ya Gotta Believe" is very inspirational and is applicable to my life in many ways. I've been a huge baseball fan for most of my life and to be honored with this award is very important to me."
Both Pangallo and Bennett are captains on this year's team. Having struggled through some disappointing seasons in recent years, both men are enjoying this season with new uniforms, a new coaching staff and an upbeat attitude about the game.
"I look forward to the opportunity I have to play college baseball one final season," Bennett says. "Coming into the season, I felt very honored being named team captain with Pangallo. In general, I want to walk away from this season with no regrets. This season, I have no hesitations in saying that the baseball team is determined to make it to the Conference tournament at Hendrix. Also, the current baseball team is a great group of guys to be around both on and off the field."
Pangallo adds, "I'd like to be someone that the younger players can come to if they need help, whether it be on the field, in the classroom, or in the social aspect of college life. It's different being away from home, especially your first year. I remember what it was like trying to balance baseball and school, and I want the younger players on the team to excel in both aspects."
Bennett plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Louisville after graduating in May. He says that Tug McGraw's message influences his daily life.
"I feel that everything I do in life is a testament to his message," Bennett says. "Many days things don't go your way, but that doesn't mean that you can't make the most out of what each day has to offer. On the baseball field, in the classroom, at workyou must believe in your own abilities to achieve success and develop a positive self-concept. Many times, it's a lot easier to give up when life gets you down, but it's a true test of a person when he or she believes they can achieve something that they've been told was impossible. I firmly believe that nothing is impossible when you combine dedication, perseverance, a good attitude, and positive peer relations into your daily activities."
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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