The Horton Era Closes With 2007 Baseball Banquet
Nov. 18, 2007
Anaheim, Calif. - Family, friends and fans gathered at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim Sunday evening to celebrate the 2007 Cal State Fullerton Baseball team, as they met one last time in the team's annual awards banquet.
Over 200 gathered for the celebration hosted by former head coach George Horton. After introducing the 2007 Titans as a group, Horton spoke to the room about his final Titan team, honoring how the Titans fought their way to Omaha and the College World Series for the 15th time in the program's history.
"I am very proud of the turnaround. And I am very proud of the resiliency. And I am very proud of the fortitude of these guys that we coached," Horton said.
"The NCAA gave us a chance. It was time of the year that Titan baseball is very famous for, and we decided that we were playing with house money at that point," he said, speaking of the Titans postseason run. "We really had nothing to lose, and nobody really expected us to do much...but what they did accomplish was pretty phenomenal."
The coach's opening remarks climaxed with Horton thanking his staff, then concluding with a very poignant, heartfelt message to long-time Titan assistant Coach Rick Vanderhook that ended with a standing ovation for Vanderhook.
The ceremony then shifted to the awards portion of the program starting with the team's honor roll that included, nine conference Players/Pitchers of the Week, four All-Conference honorees, three all-tournament team members, and two All-Americans.
Team Awards, as voted on by the players, were then announced, with each player picking up a personalized engraved plaque for their accomplishments. Here are the results of the team's voting:
Most Improved Academic Achievement: Ryan Aguayo
Outstanding Academic Achievement: Bryan Harris
Most Improved Player: Corey Jones
Co-Team Captains: Clark Hardman and Evan McArthur
Best Teammate: Jon Wilhite
Co-Most Outstanding Defensive Players: Joe Scott and Clark Hardman
Most Outstanding Offensive Player: Clark Hardman
Co-Most Outstanding Pitchers: Jeff Kaplan and Wes Roemer
Tim Wallach Most Valuable Player: Clark Hardman
After the seniors were presented with their framed jerseys, Associate Athletic Director Steve DiTolla took the stage for a few presentations. But first DiTolla opened with an introduction of Jeannie Fulton, the widow of the Titans first baseball coach, Bill Fulton.
"Jeannie, thank you for coming and still being a part of Titan Baseball," DiTolla said.
DiTolla continued, "On behalf of the Athletic Department, I wanted to say thank you to Coach Horton for all of the things he has done for us and for Titan baseball."
DiTolla then presented a framed resolution sent to Horton from State Senator Dick Ackerman. Athletic Director Brian Quinn read the resolution to the audience.
DiTolla then revealed that, in continuing Fullerton's long and strong tradition of excellence in the sport of baseball, three numbers will be added to Goodwin Field's Ring of Honor beginning in 2008.
"By Virtue of being Co-National Player of the Year, we will add number 24 for Wes Roemer," DiTolla said. "We will add number 28 for Rick Vanderhook who has been an integral part of Titan baseball for over 20 years, and of course we will add number 8 for George Horton."
The Athletic Department then presented an engraved Navy and Orange bat to the departing coach. At that time Horton came back to the stage to close the banquet, completing his last official duty as the Titans' head coach.
"Who knows maybe someday in a different capacity, I will be able to come back to this great institution where I went to school, and where a big part of my heart is.
"There will always be some navy blue blood rolling through my veins, no matter where I am at and what I am doing - unless I am competing against you. Even then, there will always be very fond memories.
"This program is bigger than George Horton, bigger than Larry Cochell, bigger than Augie Garrido. It is about everyone that continues to carry the banner of Titan Baseball.
"I am very proud to have served a 17-year role as part of the program as a coach, and two years as a player and I will never forget you. Thank you, and goodnight.