David Price donates $2.5 million to new Vanderbilt baseball facility

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Former Vanderbilt pitcher David Price has donated $2.5 million to the new baseball facility, Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos announced at a press conference on Friday.

Zeppos spoke alongside Athletic Director David Williams, head baseball coach Tim Corbin and Price himself. The chancellor thanked Price for the gift and pointed out how he has been a highlight of Corbin’s success since 2003, when Vanderbilt baseball sent the fewest players to the draft out of the SEC. By 2013, the program was sending the most. Price has arguably been Vanderbilt’s most successful baseball player, going first overall in the MLB draft in 2007.

“You’re a model of what any Chancellor looks for,” Zeppos said about Price, a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.

While Corbin noted how Price didn’t want to be a part of the press conference because of his humbleness, the former Cy Young award winner thanked his former coach for the coaching and mentoring he has provided over the years. Price, who grew up nearby in Murfreesboro, always wanted to come to Vanderbilt even after being drafted by the Dodgers in the 19th round out of high school, he said during the press conference. The culture at this school has stuck out to him the most, from the time he stepped on campus until now.

“This is where I turned into a man,” Price said.

The new facility, which will be partially finished by the end of this upcoming season, will add new workout spaces and offices in addition to “an improved space for offseason training,” according to a press release. During the following season, the clubhouse, which hosts the locker room and lounge, will be renovated. A major goal is to provide better facilities for former players to come use during the offseason, in addition to improvements for current and future players.

With Price’s gift, Vanderbilt’s goal of $12 million for the project has been effectively met, according to the press release. Williams announced that 250 gifts were made, including 30 of over $100,000 and five over a $1 million. Additionally, Zeppos announced that 60 percent of former baseball players from Corbin’s Vanderbilt teams donated to the project.

“That’s a record for us in athletics” Williams said about the number of gifts. “Just think about that.”

Many former Vanderbilt baseball players were also in attendance, including Dansby Swanson, Curt Casali and Mike Yastrzemski. Many of them spend their offseason time in Nashville training at Vanderbilt’s facilities, which will see an upgrade from the project.

“It’s pretty special just to know that somebody in his position that is so successful and somebody who is one of the best pitches in the league can basically stay true to his roots and that’s kind of what makes him so great is that he doesn’t change who he is,” Swanson, the 2015 No. 1 overall MLB draft pick said. “He’s willing to make our experience better and we’re here and it’s definitely inspirational to myself and to other guys I played with to be like him and do the same type of things.”

Price pitched at Vanderbilt from 2005 to 2007, going 22-10 and striking out 441 batters. He won the Roger Clemens Award, Brooks Wallace Award, Golden Spikes and Howser Trophy in 2007, and was also named National Player of the Year and SEC Athlete of the Year. His season culminated in his becoming the first Vanderbilt player to be taken with the top pick in the MLB draft, as he was selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

In his first season with the Rays, he immediately made an impact on the team. He won Game 2 of the 2008 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, winning a postseason game before recording his first regular-season win.

In Game 7 of that series, with the Rays clinging to a two-run lead, Price was called in from the bullpen with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth inning. He struck out J.D. Drew to get out of the bases-loaded jam and closed out the game in the ninth inning, sending the Rays to their first-ever World Series.

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That victory over the Red Sox meant more than just a trip to the World Series for Price: It was the culmination of a transformational experience that began with his last pitch as a Commodore. In the 2007 NCAA Baseball Regional, the top-seeded Commodores lost to the Michigan Wolverines on a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, off of Price.

Corbin said Price was shaken by the moment.

“I remember when he left that night, he left the locker room quick, and the next day when I spoke to him, he said ‘It’s not fair. It’s not fair at all. How hard I worked at this game,’” Corbin said. “I told him that at some point in his life, like life’s not fair, neither is the game of baseball. The game will come back around to him.”

After the ALCS win, Price left a message for Corbin and said “You’re right. The game comes back around.”

Since he left Vanderbilt to pursue his major league career, Price has shown his support for the school on many occasions. From donning a full Vanderbilt football uniform during a bullpen session to being on the field as Swanson was drafted No. 1 overall to attending numerous College World Series games, his love of the school is apparent.

“David’s our No. 1 fan in a great fan base,” Zeppos said.