Cooperstown Connection

by - Senior Writer -
Pohl was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 44th round in 2008, but chose Clemson instead of professional baseball.

CLEMSON – Phil PohlPhil Pohl
Sr. Catcher
#9 5-11, 215
Cooperstown, NY

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was born to play baseball, the game, the love for the game itself woven into the fabric of his life from an early age.

The Clemson senior spent much of his youth almost within shouting distance of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the famous Doubleday Field, the field in Cooperstown named after Abner Doubleday, the Civil War general who some have credited with inventing the game of baseball who had a summer house in Cooperstown.

“Cooperstown is a really small place, and I graduated with 91 kids in my senior class,” Pohl said this week as he and the rest of his Tiger teammates prepare for the season opener this Friday. “But I know the Hall of Fame like I know the back of my hand – I have been there quite a few times. And when I was in high school, I played the majority of my home games on Doubleday Field, which is quite an honor because that is actually one of the nicest fields in that area.”

So how did a young man from the sleepy hamlet of Cooperstown wind up a Clemson Tiger?

“Actually, the first way I found about Clemson was one day when I was about 12 years old and I was watching the College World Series,” he said. “I was looking at them and thinking, ‘Wow, that is a really cool team. Maybe one day I will have a shot to play for them and come down South,’ because I knew I wanted to get out of the New York weather and play down here.”

Fast forward a few years, and Pohl caught the eye of former Clemson assistant Tom Riginos, who saw Pohl at a tournament in Georgia.

“I got on a travel team out of Syracuse, and we were playing in a tournament in Marietta, and T.R. saw me,” Pohl said. “They contacted me, and asked me to come down and take a visit, and then they made an offer. It was amazing to me to just even hear from Clemson, much less get an offer. Here I am, 16 or 17 years old, and the coach from one of the best programs in the country is calling me. To think that I was wanted by somebody of that caliber and from a program like Clemson was way better than Christmas, I can tell you that.”

Pohl has fashioned a solid career at Clemson, both on the field and in the classroom. He is a career .285 hitter who has a .368 on-base percentage in 135 career games (94 starts). He is a two-time team co-captain whose career really took off last season when he hit .333 with 43 runs scored, a team-high 22 doubles, four homers, 33 RBIs, a .391 on-base percentage and five steals.

He was also a Third-Team Academic All-American, is a two-time All-ACC Academic team member, and was honored during the 2010 College World Series Opening Ceremonies for having Clemson’s top GPA.

It’s a career that he says he is proud of, but doesn’t want to end too quickly.

“If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “It’s weird being a senior this year, and with opening day coming up this Friday and me knowing it will be my last opening day as a Clemson player is bittersweet. I am looking forward to this season, but I don’t want it to end just yet.”

He said the highlight of his career – to date – was winning the Super Regional against Alabama in 2010, a victory that propelled the Tigers to the 2010 College World Series.

“Winning that Super Region was by far the best thing that has happened to me as a Clemson student-athlete,” he said. “To beat someone on your home field that earns you the right to go to Omaha was amazing. That was one of the best feelings of my life.”

Pohl was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 44th round in 2008, but chose Clemson instead of professional baseball at that time. Now, he knows another shot at playing professionally might be just around the corner.

“I kind of knew from an early age that I wanted to pursue baseball as far as I could, so that is what brought me here,” he said. “It is definitely my dream to have the opportunity to pursue a professional career, but right now all I care about is Tiger baseball. It would be amazing, though. I have been playing baseball since I was four years old and walked onto that T-ball field, and I have been involved in the game since I was on that field. To go on up and play professionally would be a dream come true.”

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