February 15, 2019 - by
Pitch-Perfect Opener Gives Martin Another Special Memory

WATCH: Noles no-hit Black Bears on Opening Day | Box Score

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Superstitions and omens have long been welcomed inside baseball clubhouses, so perhaps no one who was at Dick Howser Stadium should be surprised by everything that took place here Friday afternoon.

Still, after watching No. 11 Florida State post an 11-0 victory in the final Opening Day of coach Mike Martin’s career – the same Martin who, of course, wears jersey No. 11 and answers to the nickname “Eleven” – even the most hardened of skeptics might have to take notice.

And if all the 11s weren’t enough, how about this?

Before the game, Chris Chavez, the former FSU All-American who in 1998 threw the program’s last solo no-hitter, visited the Seminoles’ dugout with his son.

A few hours later, FSU’s Chase Haney put the closing touches on the 10th no-hitter in school history, a feat he shared with starter Drew Parrish and reliever Conor Grady.

Heck of a way to start that final season, Coach.

“This was so much fun,” Martin said. “It’s very special. The closest that I think we’ve come to a no-hitter on Opening Day was us getting 1-hit. … It was a great memory tonight.”

A great one for the three pitchers, too. For themselves, of course, but also for providing their coach with yet another special moment.

Told of Martin’s comments after the game, Parrish laughed and said, “I mean, the guy’s been around baseball longer than I’ve been alive two times in a row.

“For him to say that, after all that he’s seen, all the great players he’s coached, it’s just something you’re going to remember for the rest of your life.”

The plan, of course, is for Martin and FSU baseball to experience plenty of great memories over the next few months.

Some, like Martin’s upcoming 2,000th win – now just 12 away – are planned.

This one was not.

Optimistic as he was, Martin would’ve been hard-pressed to predict a no-hitter in his team’s opener.

Not with his starter, the former All-American Parrish, on a soft pitch count. (He was pulled after 65.) And not with his closer, Haney, making his first appearance since 2017 after missing last season with an injury.

And, for that matter, Martin might not have predicted that his new-look lineup would erupt for 12 hits and 11 runs, five of which were driven in by true freshman Robby Martin in his collegiate debut.

Near the end of his press conference, Martin reminded, as he often does, that there’s no sense in overreacting to one game. There will be highs and lows throughout the season, and how well his team rides them will likely determine where it spends its summer.

But it certainly doesn’t hurt to start this high.

“We couldn’t ask for a better start,” Grady said.

The very end was pretty good, too.

A few moments after bringing in the game’s final out, catcher Mat Nelson approached Martin with the ball and asked if he’d like to have it.

There’s only one ball from the final Opening Day of a 40-year career, after all.

Martin took it, put it in his pocket then flashed back to February 24, 1980.

After starting the season 0-2 in their new head coach’s first season, Martin’s Seminoles topped Miami, 9-8, to pick up the very first victory of what would become a legendary career.

After the game, catcher Craig Ramsey, whose son James would become an FSU All-American in 2012, approached Martin with the game ball.

“That was ironic,” Martin said with a smile. “(Nelson) said, ‘You want the first win from the last year?’”

It was the latest of thousands, and Martin hopes it’s the first of many still to come. But it might be a little while before it’s topped.

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