Sunday, June 8, 2008

Jeff Peeples Still the Greatest 35 Years Later



Vanderbilt has just completed another very successful baseball season under Coach Tim Corbin. While we didn't manage to defend our 2007 SEC title, the team did advance to both the SEC and NCAA tournaments and stayed in the national rankings most of the year.


Certainly the pro baseball scouts like Vanderbilt's talent. In the recently concluded major league draft, eight of Vanderbilt's current players were selected along with ten of our incoming recruits.


Vandy may have also set some kind of record with one of its athletes being the top collegiate baseball player taken in the draft two straight years. This year it was third baseman Pedro Alvarez (selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates), while last year pitcher David Price was the first pick overall.


You could put up a pretty good argument that Price is Vanderbilt's greatest pitcher, and if he puts up the great statistics he's capable of in the pros for the Tampa Bay Rays, it will be hard to argue otherwise, although some will say other former Vandy hurlers now in the major leagues like Jeremy Sowers and Jensen Lewis deserve some consideration, as does Scott Sanderson from years gone by.


But in terms of what they accomplished while at Vanderbilt, there's not much question in my mind that the late Jeff Peeples (pictured above), a member of our Vanderbilt Class of 1973, is the greatest Commodore hurler ever.


It been 35 years since he last took the mound for the Black & Gold, yet he still holds the school record in many pitching categories including most wins in a season with 12 in 1973 (when we won our first SEC title), most career wins 29 and lowest earned run average for a career (1970-73) at 1.68.


In addition, Jeff was one of only two pitchers in SEC history to lead the conference in ERA two years in a row (1971 & '72). He was an All-American his senior season and a three-time All-SEC selection.


And believe it or not, he may have been even better than we fully appreciated at the time.


Here's a story I found on the CSTV.com sports website. It's an interview conducted by Bill Traghber with then-Vandy baseball Larry "Smokey" Schmittou.


Schmittou recounts a game our senior season on the road with then-national baseball power Southern Cal.


" Rod Dedeaux (the USC coach) was such an icon in college baseball...He had won five consecutive national championships when we went to Riverside (CA). Before the game they would get on the dugout and bug you unmercifully. I had a third baseman named Bill Hardin. He asked me, "Coach, what's a grummet?" I said I think it's a desert bug. I asked him why and he said that's what the USC players were calling him. My assistant, Roy Carter, asked me what I was going to say to the team before the USC game. I walked down there and you could tell everyone was nervous. I said, "Fellows, we'll win. Peeples is pitching. Let's go." Peeples struck out Fred Lynn four times. (Note: Lynn was later AL MVP for the Boston Red Sox and had a long near-Hall of Fame career in the Majors).


Schmittou concluded: "We beat them (USC) 5-4 and were ahead the whole game."


Vanderbilt certainly remembers and appreciate Jeff's contributions. Since 2001, the annual team MVP Award bears his name.


I knew what a great athlete Jeff Peeples was long before we got to Vanderbilt. He played high school sports for my school's (Father Ryan) arch-rival in Nashville, Montgomery BellAcademy. Peeples helped MBA beat us very regularly.


In high school he was actually better known and honored numerous times as an All-State football player. He actually signed a football scholarship to play at Vanderbilt. Of course, the football recruiter for VU in those days was also Larry Schmittou and he, being no fool, often signed athletes he thought could be successful in multiple sports (especially baseball :)


A few years before we went to Vanderbilt, I once saw Jeff Peeples do something I stilll don't believe I actually witnessed. A local radio station had a contest to see if anyone could throw a 45 RPM record (remember those?) across the Cumberland River. I think the competition was trying to emulate what George Washington once did in throwing a stone or some kind of item across the Potomac River. Well, Jeff stepped up and he did it! What an athlete!


Unfortunately, Jeff did not enjoy the same success in pro baseball as he did at Vanderbilt. A career-ending car wreck, resulting in major damage to his shoulder, ended his career after pitching only briefly in the St. Louis Cardinals' minor league system. But the sportswriters and others in Tennessee never forgot his career at Vanderbilt and he was named a member of The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.


As we prepare to remember so many great things about Vanderbilt as a part of our 35th Class Reunion, please feel free to share your thoughts and memories of Jeff and of Vanderbilt baseball below.




8 comments:

barry banker said...

Pat--Great tribute to "Peeps,Doggie," as we called him at MBA!! I had the privilege of playing both football and baseball with him. He was the most laid back, cool headed, "no problem" athlete I ever saw. He was endowed with tremendous God-given talent. He was a great friend as well.

He matched up one day in a pitching duel--MBA vs. Cohn--with Wayne Garland, who later pitched for Cleveland and Baltimore I believe. This was shortly after he sailed the 45 rpm across the Cumberland. When Jeff took the mound in the first inning, a dozen or so 45's went sailing from the stands to the pitcher's mound--truly a moment that broke the tension of a big game.

You were one in a million, Peeps ! Rest in peace !

Tom (aka Tommy) Powell said...

Pat and Barry ... thanks for your recollections of Jeff Peeples. Peeps was a good friend and an incredible teammate. Whether fishing all night before an exam or a road trip, or starting and winning 2 games (a doubleheader) against Georgia, Peeps did things his own way ... all the time ... part of what made him both unique and exceptional.

And, I remember vividly Larry Schmittou's words before the Southern Cal game ... more like ... "Boys, I know one thing ... we don't lose when this man (Peeps) is on the mound".

Along with Peeps, five other seniors missed their graduation ceremony, and played their final college game together in Starkville, MS in the District Tournament (qualifier for the College World Series at the time). It was a team of destiny (so "coined" by Rick Duncan)largely because of Peeps' memorable contributions, but stymied 2 wins short of Omaha by the unfortunate draw of a "short straw" (true story)that forced us to play again after a 14 inning marathon vs. NC State, despite being the only unbeaten team in the District Trny at the time.

Life took Jeff Peeples too early, but all of his teammates and friends had a helluva time together while he was with us.

Hope to see many friends (and teammates) at Reunion '08!

Bob Higgins said...

Besides being an incredible pitcher, Jeff was an amazing line-drive hitter. As I recall, his average was well above .300 which in the era of wooden bats was remarkable for a pitcher. Jeff and Adams Carroll were the best bench jockeys, who would ride and rattle in tandem the opposing team's pitcher. Jeff is missed by all who saw him play at Vanderbilt and missed even more by those who were fortunate to know him.

vandypitcher said...

thanks for the stories about the great jeff peeples...i litteraly could tell " you " 100 more which would make everybody laugh and amaze you at the same time..i was blessed to have known him, played with him, won baseball games and SEC titles with him , and have considered him a good friend ( along with about 1,000 other guys who considered him a great friend ) ...jeff was one of the finest athletes in the nation back then and vandy was lucky to have him...he did things " his way " but mostly that ment WINNING and that usually works for most coaches and teammates...i am 100% convinced that he would have pitched in the big leagues if he had not hurt his shoulder in that damn car wreck...fate works in strange ways sometimes...jeff was a " big game " pitcher...a " money pitcher " a " sunday pitcher "...his record in big SEC games was something like 22--2...i mean he NEVER lost THOSE kind of games ( even IF tommy powell had to clean things up with a walk-off granny now and then ) but his record in NON SEC games was like 6--6...it wasnt that he didnt care about those games...it was just that jeff " plugged in " when the BIG spot light came on ..didnt matter WHO was the opponent ( USC , anybody ) thats why i believe he would have made it to " the show " if he had not had that damn car wreck...( by the way...he had gotten off to such a good start in the st louis org that he was being promoted...thats why he was driving that day ..to his new team in higher minor league ball )..to clear the USC story up...cause i WAS there that march 1973 night in riverside CA...coach schmittou ( these are his EXACT words ) came out in the OF to us and said " all i know is, we NEVER LOSE when THIS GUY ( peeples ) is on the mound " schmittou then turned around and left..to be honest..we werent really in awe of USC ..the # 2 ranked team in the nation that night..we had beaten # 1 and # 2 ranked teams the last couple of yrs and we felt peeples COULD beat anybody in the nation...heck we had scrimiged against KCs minor league teams for a week and played against many future major leaguers...actually i EXPECTED jeff to beat USC that night....now he did not strikeout fred lynn 4 times...coach schmittou must have been drinking heavely when he told you that...actually the all american and future boston red sox major league ALL STAR ( who came close to making it to the hall with ted williams etc ) hit 2 homeruns off of jeff but thats the whole point...jeff beat them ANY WAY...he went all 9 innings..and he did not back down from freddy (*&*(*&^%ing lynn or anybody else INCLUDING ANTHONY DAVIS...their CF who led the nation in rushing that yr )...now heres the REST of the story...36 hours later we tee it up with arizona st...the # 1 ranked team in the nation...they have 4--5 all americans just like USC has..but their most famous is 'bump wills " ( son of hall of famer maury wills " ) ..coach schmittou comes out to me in the outfield before the game when i am doing my streching and says : i'll throw palmore( wayne ) for 6 ..and i was gonna throw you for 3..but peeples wants them for an inning...so you go 2 and peeples gets the 9th....i want their " ace " too ( meaning coach schmittou wanted badly to beat BOTH USC AND ARIZONA ST that week in CA )..well....palmore goes 6 and does a great job...the score is 4-4 and i shut them down the 7th and 8th AND slip in the winning hit to boot..a bunt over the infielders heads....schmittou looks at me and looks at peeples in the dougout before the bottom of the 9th...we are up 6 to 4...its peeples ball if he wants it...peeples says to schmittou..hell BODEYE ( my nick name ) is doing great..send him back out.. so back out i go..and peeples ( thank you GOD ) trots out to right field ( you ALWAYS wanted jeff peeples ON the baseball field in big games ) ( the " angel " belonged to jeff...he lent it out sometimes but it BELONGED...to jeff ) so the first guy for the # 1 ranked arizona st team in the bottom of the 9th trailing 6-4 lays down a perfect bunt down the 3rd base line cept GRUMIT ( bill hardin..see previsious story ) is not as dumb as they think a TENN freshman is supose to be and he was charging WITH the pitch ( his momma didnt raise no idiot ..its the 9th inning and they havent been able to drive my slider in the 7th or 8th ) and he comes in and makes a bare-handed play ON THE RUN and throws the speed-guy OUT by a half of step.. OUT # 1...( and they are like : HUH ? a $%^&^%ing FRESHMAN just did that ? ) .... so the next guy up looks at john mclean at 1B and figures THAT must be the TENN redneck idiot ( john has only been playing baseball since he was 2 and is all SEC as a PITCHER AND as a HITTER but what the hell ) and THIS guy lays down a perfect bunt up the 1 base line....cept ole john had THAT figured before i threw the pitch and had already broken towards the plate, HE makes a great pickup and flips it to me and we beat THAT guy by another half of a step.. 2.. DOWN...now about now you guys are wondering how jeff peeples figures in all of this....well the next guy up is bump wills...all american and future 14 yr guy in the big leagues and hes rightfully worried...he sees " vandy can handle the bunt " ( his familys speciality ) and bill hardin is about 20 ft from him and smiling and john mclean is about 30 ft from him and sneering up the 1st base line and that" kinda" takes away the drag bunt... the pitcher ( me ) only throws those " high--school " sliders and how do you hit " that crap " hard any where ?? !!..well ole bump fouls off 2 of those " highschool sliders " and then " the pitcher " decides he should let jeff do SOMETHING before the game is over ( LOL...actually " the pitcher " decided to go down in a blaze of glory and strikeout bump wills with a fastball and be carried off the the field and directly into the halls of vanderbilt legends ) buttttttt.....the pitcher threw a fastball to bump wills who hit it on a line to the very top of the rightfield wall and pinned it there...the rightfield chainlink fence then fell back several feet and the ball dribbled back to.......who else ??? jeff peeples who ( do not ask me how ..remember he had pitched 9 complete innings 36 hours before against USC..most pitchers could not lift their arm at that point )picked the ball ( about 1.5 MILES away from 3B at that time ) and threw a SEED to robert hendrickson standing around 2B who to his amazement saw wills confidently moving to 3B ( you NEVER do that in that situation ) bump wills may well have been the fastest guy in college ball in 1973 ( family blood lines ) but peeples angel got on that baseball and flew it 300 MPH in a straight line to robert who made a blur fast catch and throw all in one motion and kept the ball traveling to 3B and bill hardin at something close to the speed of sound...i mean nobody in the BIGS back then makes that play any better than peeples , hendrickson and hardin...nobody...when wills went into his slide at 3B for his " triple " he was totally SHOCKED to see " the grumit " WITH the baseball ON the bag...waiting for him....bill hardin slapped the glove and ball extra hard ( so they would remember us,, BODEYE..he told me with a wink after the game )on bump %^&^%&*ing wills and we had us the scalps of the 2 biggest college baseball programs in the nation.... how do EYE know all of this ?? LOL LOL cause i was a backin up THIRD like ALL good pitchers are supose to do when they quit throwing sliders away and try to sneak a highschool fastball past an all american hitter and the hitter takes them on a line hard and deep and your outfielders are having to play deep and cut across to re--access the baseball again....i asked for and got THE baseball from the umpire ( hardin must have given it to him ) and have it to this day....if you look close on the ball you can see...some slightly dirty...angel wings....i dont ask.......mark bode ..class of 73 and proud to call jeff peeples a friend of mine

vandypitcher said...

i am being asked for more baseball stories from 1970--1974.....OK...here is one of my favorites...we are at KY in early spring either in 1971 or 1972....mike willis is the pitcher...andddddd......it is minus 20 degrees F AND....there is a snow BLIZZARD going on.....NOT a snow " storm "...a snow BLIZZARD....we didnt even want to leave the hotel but the KY athletic dept is like : come on over...weathers fine....( for dog sled racing maybe ) ...coach schmittou decides to go WAY out of the square in stragey....so he sends 9 out ( poor mike and his arm ..maybe THAT is why he was never in a good mood ON the field )..and the rest of us stay IN THE LOCKER ROOM where it is a sunny 5 degrees ABOVE zero F or something ......well....the startin 9 gets up 9--0 after 5 or 6 innings BUT...there is a problem...they are frozen stiff...cant move...and mike was done....ickles hanging off of his arm...( though i would NOT have wanted to have been a KY hitter trying to hit a mike willis fastball with a wooden bat at 20 degrees BELOW zero...THAT must have been kinda interesting too...) well coach schmittou had the second part of his plan ready to go..he sends out his second 9 for the last 3--4 innings....who had been " sunning " themselves in the visitors locker room...well...plan 1- A didnt work so well and all of a sudden in the top of the 9th the score was 9--9...that MAY have been the KY game where jeff peeples ( who else ) came to bat early in the game and choked-up about half- way up the bat as the wind opps the gale was blowing IN from left at about 50 MPH..and took a pitch atleast 6 inches ABOVE his head and swung DOWN on the ball ( cant make this kinda stuff up ) and hit a monster line-drive that cut through that little ole KY gale coming in from left and hit the ball 50 feet over and PAST the left field fence...i saw it but i didnt believe it...i just shook my head....( probably thought to myself...what am EYE doing in THIS league ?? THAT only happens in leagues " for gods " )well any way its now 9-9 ( i was warming up to pitch the bottom of the 9th and coach schmittou comes out to me in the bullpen and says and i quote " if you pitch..no fastballs ( no...no fieeestballs )...IF you throw ONE fastball ( ie : i dont want to see ONE" highschool" fastball in the bottom of the 9th...LOL...he just wanted to see " highschool " sliders LOL ) ..i'll kill you.....and he WAS serious....he screamed that through the gale....well...i didnt pitch the bottom of the 9th....i dont remember who did but...we load the bases in the top of the 9th with the score tied 9-9 and you dont want to lose a game you were ahead in 9--0 few innings before...you just dont...there were 2 outs and i guess maybe a 3--2 count on our hitter....i dont remember for sure...the KY pitcher goes into his winde and...all of a sudden....from SOMEWHERE you hear : HOLD IT !!!! ( sounded suspeciously like the same fella who said : dont throw no fieeeeestballs ) who just happened to be coaching 3B......well....the KY pitcher figured.....maybe we were having a nukcliar allert or maybe somebodys cell phone was ringing ( ahhh.....right...we didnt have cell phones back then )who knows WHAT he thought BUT.....he stopped in mid windeup and suddenly that guy coaching at 3B turns around towards us in the dugout like ..WHO ME ??? WHO SAID THAT ?? etc LOL LOL...the UMP thinks for a moment and concludes ANYTHING to get THIS game over is a good thing...and screams BALK....the KY coaches and players and fan(s..MAYBE "s" )screamed bloody murder but....we won 10--9......thats a true story.....hats totally off to....coach schmittou that day.......mark bode 1973

vandypitcher said...

another funny story about "PEEPS"..jeff was NOT a man to sit around and do nothing....it just wasnt in him ( i have NO idea if he ever slept )...i mean the fish within 50 miles of vandyland, the squirrls, maybe the deer, who knows...NEVER slept real well when the alert went out that jeff and the green car were rolling....well...during batting practice at vandys baseball yard...there are 3--4 moving parts and the rest of the guys shag-em-up.....that was never enough action for jeff...stand in the OF and leisurely catch a flyball every 4 mins...so jeff would quietly load his pockets with " throwing rocks " before he went out to the OF to shag-em-up ,either in left or center.....now i guess the sparrows that flew around the bowels of the football stadium were not real bright....cause this didnt happen once...it happened almost every day.....jeff , being a sportsman....figured he could get some bird--hunting in each afternoon we were practicing as well as keep his aim sharp as well as clean-up the "basement" of the football stadium.....sounds innocent.....right ?? well.....2 problems....ONE....when he missed ( not often BUT.....he WAS 100s of feet AWAY and they WERE flying zig--zag patterns so it was kinda like dog--fighting in WW 2....i mean he had to radar--into them , then lead them etc....BUT..we are talking about a guy ( we think he was human...)who could throw .45 records across a river about a mile wide ( sounds like george washington and spittt EXCEPT...well....hundreads of people saw him do it )...but WHEN he missed....a rock hitting the bottom of the stands of the football stadium back then traveling at mach 1 ...sounded like a mortor shell going off...BAMMM BAMMM....it wasnt ahhhh...musical and it usually was followed by some sort of cuss word typically utter by a fighter pilot who just missed his prey....and then the echos....from ONE shot....he was prepared to fire away all afternoon....well we just laughed.....and counted his kills on good hunting days...when he hit one knocking it down like a merschmiddt 109 going down in flames over germany in '43, he would let out this deep laugh that was funny as hell....well.....problem # 2 was...coach schmittou apparently HATED the sound of rocks hitting the bottom of the stands with an atomic boom effect and then the 10 seconds of echos per hit afterwards...EVEN IF they were generated by his ALL SEC ALL AMERICAN best--pitcher--in -the -nation guy....so we would take bets in the outfield during practice not really on how many enemy birds jeff would elliminate from future :( your--life--is-in--your-own--hands--but--go--temp--him--and --fly--if--you--like) flights...( cause then you would have to bet with " the house " ( jeff ) and you never knew when he was sandbaggin etc...) but how many " misses " it would take for coach schmittou to scream " STOP IT ".....( sometimes it depended on what jeff had done in the last 2--3 days....if he just shutout TENN or somebody else....well....he had some rope )...now " STOP IT " didnt really mean STOP IT until the 2nd or 3rd time but....eventually it ment STOP IT NOW LOL.....but it was a pefect example of a " game inside the game " that athletes all over the world have been playing for centuries....jeff was as good as there was at inventing some of those " inside games "....i got no idea who cleaned up all of those dead sparrows.......mark bode..1973

vandypitcher said...

here are a few more funny stories from baseball 1970--1974 that i can remember....my roommates for 2 great years were VBK ( jan van brendakolff ) and hayworth parks in tower 1...and ofcourse one of my teammates on the baseball team was jeff peeples for 4 yrs..well....i was an average guy....C- student , pitcher with " highschool stuff ", 5ft 10 inches, kinda shy of girls...( hated being turned down for dates ) at home in chattanooga my father had been the headmaster of GPS ( the girls private school) so...i had all kinds of ways of cheating to get dates there ..but this was vanderbilt...the big leagues....and i only liked to go out with beautiful woman , women who reminded you of rather stupid...goddesses...frolicking goddesses ( one of my email addresses at AOL is : neoconalphamale..........whatever )it didnt take long to figure out that jeff peeples could call ANY girl in school and secure a date...even at 1AM in the morning...and i never saw him with a young lady who would score less than a solid 14......on a scale of 1 to 10......and the same with JAN....living WITH JAN i noticed ( he was 6ft 9 inches and a calf blond sufer and rich and an all american and future # 1 draft choice ) he would sometimes have 3 dates in a night with young ladies waiting for him downstairs that HAYWORTH was in charge of entertaining , getting their numbers, putting a score to their looks , etc.......so i designed a fool-proof " vanderbilt -get-a-date plan " for every day of the week...you would cruise through the vanderbilt year book....pick out 10 new great-looking young ladies you did not know...pull out your sales track ( and vandy phone book )and " dial a date "....ranking them 1 to 10 and starting from the top : may i speak to .........please...hi raquel...this is mark bode, i am a junior on the baseball team with jeff peeples ..jeff told me to give you a call since he thought you and I would have a GREAT time together if we went out...he has been meaning to call you about this but when he showed me your picture today i decided i wasnt going to wait any longer....you are BEAUTIFUL ! maybe we can meet up with him and his girlfriend tonight....now....i got no idea if this girl is married, in love, engaged, has gender idenification issues, dates ROCKO or BIG BAD LEROY BROWN ....all i know is that she is beautiful and PROBABLY knows who jeff peeples is and probably wishes she was his girlfriend and may just settle for a blind date with " jeff's best friend " or something....TOnight...out of curiosity....the same worked EQUALLY WELL useing JAN's name....i always forgot to tell jeff and jan thanks ..they would have wanted a fee.. LOL....that worked so well for 2 plus yrs...i cant tell you.........................we are at kentucky ...maybe 1972 spring...at the springs motel...there is this kinda penthouse upstairs where half of the team bunks in.....and most of us had our own bedroom ( the super stars had their own rooms downstairs )....so i am having a good yr pitching so i have kinda the best room " up there " in the penthouse...kinda in the middle...i mean it had a door so i thought i was OK...wrong.....wayne palmore was up there which ment nobody sleeps and IF he catches you doing ANYTHING funky.....you are meat.....well....i THOUGHT i had slipped some local talent un noticed upstairs to my room close to " bed check time ".....well...NOTHING escaped captain wayne palmore's eyes, nose, etc ( he was like a captain in the ROTC ) NOTHING.....well...IF you slip some local talent up to your room on the road of a baseball team trip with like 20 potential pairs of prying eyes around trying to " help you out "...she better be a 14 on a scale of 1 to 10 cause EVERYBODY is going to " grade her out " and they AINT going to be kind....if she has ONE " flaw " you are going to be serinaded by " barnyard sounds " for as long as she is up there playing " chess " with you....well...i guess you could apply the concept of " desperation " cause....well i guess the young lady had " more " than 1 flaw....( she hid them well )well....palmore sees it all go down ( NEVER NEVER try to sneak a 7 into your room on a baseball road trip...just walk right in the front door as if you are proud ( and blind and perhaps drunk out of your mind ).....well....i guess palmore drops to the bottom of the door after i closed it and locked it to try and listen underneath the door....then trys to just take the whole door OFF ( there were no windows if i remember )....all the while he is sounding more and more like an active ( and sick ) barnyard ( especially a DOG and a donkey...for " some reason " )now he has 4--5 more players there who i am QUITE SURE have NEVER seen anything like THIS before...i am panicking cause : i did not have any female ear-plugs, did not have any reasonably sounding good answers why " this man " was listening under the door, trying to take the door off the hinges ,or showing " his friends in the room " how he can sound like a dog and other animals, and OH......coach schmittou was coming up for a room check in 10 mins.....all of a sudden....bad day.,.....as i quickly throw her " coat " yeah....coat....back on her and tell her we better leave but that she could come back later ( like next year )...i realize i will have to now " run the guatlet " going down the stairs....great..and we left a perfectly good room 25 mins ago..as we are husteling down i am hearing " scores " tossed out " ONE , TWO ( maybe ) , HALF etc...but no " 14s " "10s' etc etc..just a lot of laughter and barnyard sounds UNTIL....." we " cross paths with yup.....coach schmittou 2'3 of the way down the stairs...coach schmittou looks up at the girl and says to her : how ya doing........and i say to the girl....i'm sorry wayne got sick barbara ( forgot her name ) but why dont you call him tomorrow to see how he is....EVERYBODY roared in laughter and wayne yells out from the top of the steps....nice try bode but i wouldnt take her to the county fair...LOL....coach schmittou just shook his head....palmore was as funny as they come as a teammate on a baseball team and dont try to sneak ANYTHING by him....LOL......mark bode

Anonymous said...

BGA grad:
THis is a fabulous site to pay respect to possibly the greatest athlete to emerge from Tennessee but definitely Middle Tennessee. I first "met" Jeff when I as a 7th grader at BGA when we played the MBA 7th and 8th grade team at MBA. I was playing linebacker and my first and lasting impression was Jeff breaking through our flimsy D line and all I saw after that were legs and feet running over me. Good grief I thought. Who is this freak? Time only told more as we both progressed through high school.

Many of the names mentioned by others just magnifies the level of talent in the Nashville area during that time in baseball. Jeff, Wayne Garland, John Mcclean, Mike Willis, Sam Ewing, Hardy Lavender and Chuck Boyette amongst others. I had the chance to compete against Jeff in basketball while at BGA for three years and in baseball during the summers for 6 years. He was an absolute stud and seemingly genuine character. As a pitcher he could intimidate a hitter as well as anyone. I faced Garland and Mcclean a number of times and played on teams with Willis over the years but Jeff just scared the hell out of me. His delivery from the right side was very deceiving as the ball was just on top of you so quickly. One summer after my junior year I was facing Garland and he throws me this freaking knuckle curve ball at old Centennial Park. After witnessing this pitch I look out at the mound at him and he just gives me this smirk. Jeff on the other hand would just blow you away. Nothing really fancy. Just hard. There is no doubt in my mind had he not been in that tragic accident he would have equalled or exceeded Garlnd's accomplishments in mlb.

I have been a Vanderbilt fan since originally moving to Nashville in 1961 and remain one to this day. However, I can honestly say I have yet to see as complete an athlete and person that Jeff Peeples was. His loss is a tragedy.