WATCH: Noles put on power display in win over FAU
ATHENS, Ga. – Three years and 25 minutes changed Tim Becker’s life.
And they might have changed the Florida State baseball team’s postseason outlook.
A senior from Wellington, Fla., Becker spent three years on Florida State’s club baseball team before a what-the-heck tryout for a walk-on spot with varsity squad.
Becker went through a brief, 25-minute tryout and figured the extent of his experience would be fielding a few balls off the wall at Dick Howser Stadium.
It turned out to be much more than that. A few days later, FSU assistant Mike Martin Jr., called and told Becker that the Seminoles had a place for him.
Fast-forward a few months, and Becker came through as the unlikeliest of heroes in Florida State’s first game of the NCAA Athens Regional: The first two home runs of his career and four RBIs in FSU’s 13-7 victory over Florida Atlantic.
“That was surreal,” said Becker, seated between coach Mike Martin and star third-baseman Drew Mendoza at FSU’s press conference beneath Georgia’s Foley Field.
“Didn’t expect that, honestly.”
Who would have?
Even after earning his place on the team, Becker’s contributions – like those of most walk-ons – have been rare. Especially at the plate.
Becker entered the game with just 32 plate appearances, eight hits and four RBIs.
But Martin said he’s noticed a few things about Becker over the course of the season. For one, he’s a natural, instinctive player. He knows where to be and what to do once he’s there. And that makes it easy to earn a coach’s trust in a hurry.
“He was a guy that was a baseball player,” Martin said. “He knew the nuances of the game. … He knew what he was doing.”
Second, Becker has made steady improvements over the course of the season, as evidenced by his 2-for-4 effort against North Carolina State last week.
The Seminoles won that game, 11-0, and Martin didn’t see much reason to take Becker out of the lineup.
“It’s just great to see people have success as the result of getting an opportunity,” Martin said. “And he certainly has done that.”
That might be underselling it, a bit.
Becker’s two-run homer in the top of the second was simply crushed, a line drive that dinged off the top of the scoreboard in right-center field.
It was part of six FSU home runs on the afternoon and gave the Seminoles an early 3-0 run. And it sent the Florida State dugout – filled with teammates who know Becker’s story – into delirium.
“I’ve never been so excited for a home run in my life,” Mendoza said. “Even my own. Ever.”
And they were no less excited for Becker’s second shot, another two-run homer that served to answer an FAU rally and keep the Owls at arms’ length.
This one was hit high and to straightaway center and, at first, it seemed like it would make for an easy out.
But with winds blowing out – FSU and FAU combined to hit nine home runs – the ball stayed afloat and eventually carried over the wall.
“Those two, they were smashed,” Mendoza said.
It might have come as a surprise to both dugouts on Friday afternoon, but, for Becker’s old teammates on the FSU club team, it was nothing.
As news of Becker’s big day spread, several of those former teammates took to social media to show their support and pride:
Tim used to take BP before our club baseball games in camo crocs…Then he’d go 3-4 with a double and homerun every game 🔥
— Sam Nadel (@the_real_sam_2) May 31, 2019
Played club with him for 3 years. Not surprised one bit!!! Kid hit 10 HRs for us last year 💪🏻🐐
— Clay Gilman (@clay_gilman) May 31, 2019
This has a direct correlation to us being throwing partners for 3 years in club ball
— Joey Daidone (@Joeyd2496) May 31, 2019
Becker, for his part, says he’s grateful that the club team kept him connected to the game, and that the three years he spent there were “the best three years I’ve ever had playing baseball.”
Until this year, anyway.
“They got behind me this whole year,” Becker said. “So I’m kind of, for them, just playing their dream too. Being able to walk on.”
Added Martin: “I don’t think the guys (on the club team) that drove to the site of the game got gas mileage,” Martin said. “They just love to play baseball.
“And Tim Becker is one of those guys that loves to play baseball.”
He loved it plenty on Friday.
The aftermath was pretty cool, too.
Becker’s phone had already been lit up with text messages and phone calls from well-wishers. And he was able to share in the moment with his father, Tony, who made the trip to Athens.
No wonder, then, that Becker wasn’t even sure the moment had fully hit him as of Friday afternoon.
“I’ll probably realize it tomorrow,” he said with a smile. “But I’m just soaking in the win, and we’ll get back to business tomorrow.”