Lewis to join Tech greats
by Emily Horos
June 30, 2013 10:19 PM | 2948 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of Georgia Tech’s best baseball players around the millenium, Pope alum Richard Lewis has earned a place in the college’s Sports Hall of Fame.
<BR>GT Sports Information
One of Georgia Tech’s best baseball players around the millenium, Pope alum Richard Lewis has earned a place in the college’s Sports Hall of Fame.
GT Sports Information
When the class of 2013 is inducted into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 18, Richard Lewis plans to be there.

Not just because he’s a Yellow Jacket fan, but because the former Pope High School standout will be one of the seven added to the Hall.

Lewis, who enjoyed a career at Georgia Tech as a shortstop and second baseman from 1999-2001, went on to spent eight years in the minor leagues before retiring from baseball in 2008.

“I was taken aback,” Lewis said of getting the call from former Georgia Tech athletic director Dave Braine. “I hadn’t heard his voice in a while, so we talked for a few minutes. I really enjoyed hearing from him. Then he told me and I was excited.”

Lewis is part of an inductee class that also includes swimmer Shilo Ayalon, football player Kelly Campbell, volleyball player Kele Eveland, hurdler Andria King, golfer Troy Matteson and Billy Williamson, a two-sport standout in baseball and football.

Over the years, Lewis has seen several of his former Yellow Jacket teammates inducted, including Cory Vance, Mableton resident Chuck Crowder and Mark Teixeira.

“I know a few of the guys who have been inducted,” said Lewis, 33. “It’s a great feeling to be alongside them. There are a lot of great players who have come through Georgia Tech in terms of baseball. It’s a good feeling to know that your contributions were noticed and are being rewarded.”

Pope baseball coach Jeff Rowland, who started coaching the Greyhounds when Lewis was a sophomore, said he know the player had greatness in him.

“He was a phenomenal athlete,” Rowland said. “He was probably just as good a basketball player as he was a baseball player. I always said that if he had gone to Georgia Tech and played basketball, he probably would have been an all-ACC type player for them. He was a natural baseball player and worked hard at it, though.”

Rowland said that because the Pope basketball team was often in the state playoffs, Lewis wouldn’t join the Greyhounds’ baseball team until spring workouts were over.

“I felt like, if he dedicated himself year-round to baseball, his skills would just increase and he would shoot through the roof,” Rowland said.

While Lewis was playing, he never thought about what honors might lay in the future.

“When you are playing, that isn’t your focus,” he said. “When you come in as a freshman, your focus is how to get into the starting lineup. Then, when you get in the starting lineup, it’s about holding onto that spot. It’s not something I ever contemplated.”

Lewis was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team in 2000 and to the second team in 2001. He was an All-American in 2000, when he helped the Yellow Jackets win the ACC regular-season and tournament championships.

He finished his career at Georgia Tech with 259 hits to rank 16th in program history. He averaged .379 in his three seasons, but 2000 was by far his best year. His 109 hits are the third-most in team history, while his .398 average was third-best in the ACC that year.

Lewis was drafted by the Atlanta Braves 2001 as the 40th overall selection. He spent time with four different organizations, including the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals farm systems, and the independent Camden River Sharks.

Lewis reached the Triple-A level three times with the Cubs and Royals. His most prolific season was in 2004, when he batted .308 with 35 doubles, 11 triples, 13 home runs and 70 RBIs for the Cubs’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates.

“It’s was great,” Lewis said of his time in the minors. “I enjoyed it. I met a lot of great people. The baseball itself was good. It was a great experience all around. I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t trade it.”

Lewis, who now works as a regional sales director, still finds himself on the road from time to time.

He said it’s a life he enjoys.

“I have traveled all my life, and I like that aspect,” Lewis said. “I like traveling a day or two here and there. Not quite the same extent that I was used to during my baseball career, but I do enjoy a little bit of travel.”

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