Former FSU star J.D. Drew takes center stage as his No. 39 is retired

Ryan S. Clark, Lead Beat Writer

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A lifelong, die-hard Florida State fan, David Johnathan Drew grew up with the idea he would play football and baseball if he ever made it to Tallahassee.

He would eventually focus on baseball and was good enough to play for his childhood team. Once he was on campus, Drew was set on wearing the No. 22 jersey. Assistant coach Jamey Schoup told Drew the number would be available except it wasn't.

"Charlie Cruz was No. 49 and he'd wanted to be No. 22," Drew said. "After his junior year, Colby Weaver left and Charlie took 22. When I got to camp I didn't have a jersey number. Guy Gallager was the equipment manager. One thing led to another and he asked, 'what size?' and I said, 'I wear this size.'

"He said the numbers the only numbers we have [in Drew's size] were like whatever, 39, and 40 this. I said just give me 39."

Now the No. 39 that J.D. Drew made famous will never be donned again by another FSU baseball player. Drew, joined by family, friends and former teammates, had his number retired by the program prior to Saturday's game against Clemson.

Drew, who was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016, joins Dick Howser as the players in FSU's 69-year history to have their numbers retired.

Howser's No. 34 and Drew's No. 39 are displayed next to the scoreboard in left center field. The numbers were unveiled during the ceremony where Drew looked back on his playing days.

"I'm a small town by from Hahira, Georgia that loved the Seminoles probably when I was around five years old. I loved them," Drew told reporters before the ceremony. "I wanted to be a Seminole. I wanted to play football here and transition over into baseball. So to have the opportunity to play the game and play at a high level and play successfully, to achieve that, it's really not expected.

"It's kind of unheard of but man, what an honor. What an honor."

Drew, who turned 41 in November, spent three seasons at FSU and became one of most accomplished figures in college baseball history.

He batted .391 with 69 home runs, 254 runs, 267 hits and 257 RBI over a three-year span with the Seminoles.

Drew's signature season came in 1997 when he became the first player in NCAA history to record a triple-triple in campaign. He hit .455 with 31 home runs, 100 RBI, 106 hits and 110 runs. He also drew 84 while stealing 32 bases.

He would win both the Dick Howser and Golden Spikes Awards which go to the best player in college baseball. The All-American would then go on to enjoy a 13-year career where he played with the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox.

"J.D. did so much for this program in the three years he was here," Seminoles coach Mike Martin told reporters Friday. "I'm proud we're able to retire his jersey because it's certainly worth of the recognition."

Martin joked by saying the Seminoles would have to recruit Drew, "when he was in his mother's womb" if he was being pursued in today's landscape.

Schoup, now the coach at Florida A&M, was the coach responsible for recruiting Drew, Martin said.

FSU signed Drew out of high school on what was a 68 percent out-of-state scholarship.

"Then the [MLB] Draft occurred and saw the interest from the professional people was really, really challenging," Martin said. "So we changed that offer to a full [scholarship]."

Martin was with Drew and his family when the ceremony took place.

Players from Clemson and FSU stood on the top step of the dugout and applauded when Drew was introduced.

And for those wondering. Seminoles designated hitter Quincy Nieporte and catcher Bryan Bussey, who are both seniors, were born when Drew was playing. Senior utility player Hank Truluck was just born when Drew stepped on campus while the Voyles' twins -- Ed and Jim -- were delivered when he was about six weeks into his freshman season.

"Yeah, it's hit me but it's hard to grasp," Drew said of having his number retired. "Because I look back at the times that I played and, in my mind, I was trying to do the best I could do on the field and my teammates were doing the same thing.

"I didn't look at myself at any greater or deserving any more respect. I knew that guys are certainly given talent and develop that talent and I was working at doing that."


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