Baseball set to retire Brooks Kieschnick's No. 23 on Saturday
March 27, 2009
Jonathan Mann, Texas Media Relations
During Saturday’s home baseball game against Texas Tech, the Longhorns will retire the number 23 worn by two-time Dick Howser Trophy winner Brooks Kieschnick. The ceremony will be the first of four this season to honor former Longhorn baseball players, including Kieschnick, Greg Swindell, Burt Hooton and Scott Bryant.
“In all honesty, I don’t think it’s actually hit me yet,” Kieschnick said of his jersey retirement. “When I do think about it, that no one will ever wear my jersey again, it’s very overwhelming. It’s truly an unbelievable honor.”
Kieschnick, a member of the first College Baseball Hall of Fame class, is regarded as one of the best two-way college players of all time. He is in the top three in five major offensive categories on the all-time UT list, while boasting 34 wins and a 3.05 ERA as a Longhorn pitcher.
“He could get 15 strikeouts and knock in four runs,” said associate head coach Tommy Harmon, Kieschnick’s hitting coach during his career at Texas. “I don’t know too many people who have had 15 wins and 15 home runs in the same season.”
Kieschnick’s career was one of the most decorated in Texas history. In addition to his two Dick Howser Trophies -- the only player to win the award twice -- Kieschnick received Freshman of the Year honors in 1991 and Player of the Year honors in 1993, both from Baseball America. He was also named all-Southwest Conference in each of his three seasons on the Forty Acres.
Harmon remembers Kieschnick as a rare breed of fiery competitor and respectful ballplayer.
“He wanted to be in the game and just because he was hurt didn’t mean he wasn’t going to be in there,” Harmon said. “He was the ultimate team guy. Whether it was the manager or the bullpen catcher, Brooks respected everyone. He didn’t have any kind of star syndrome. He wasn’t a prima donna or an elitist whatsoever. He was just one of the guys, a true leader.”
Said Kieschnick: “I hope they remember me as someone who played the game the right way, respected the game and refused to lose. I always wanted the ball -- 3-2 count, bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. I wanted to be on the mound, or I wanted to be at the plate. I thrived on pressure and I thrived on being in those situations.”
Saturday will be Kieschnick’s second jersey retirement in about as many years, after his high school, Corpus Christi Carroll, reserved his number in 2007. He credited the Longhorn coaching staff, especially head coach Cliff Gustafson, with making his college career “the best three years of my life” in terms of baseball.
“Those guys not only touched the game of baseball, they touched the game of life for me,” Kieschnick said of his college mentors. “I basically grew up during those three years. I learned how to be a man. I learned how to take account of what you do. They taught me so much.
“I still have a great relationship with Coach Gus. I love that guy. I thought he was a tremendous baseball coach and an even better person. He’s just one of a kind. Coach Harmon was kind of what you call a player’s coach. He would get you motivated. He was that kind of guy for us too.”
Harmon, who described Kieschnick as one of “the two or three most fierce competitors who ever played here,” remembers the dual-threat player’s importance to team success.
“If you had a couple Kieschnicks on every team, you wouldn’t lose too many baseball games,” Harmon said. “He’s getting his number retired and deservedly so. He’s a great one.”