But for LaFayette High School head baseball coach and Athletic Director Dan Torrenti, that is no longer the case.
Torrenti, a 2002 graduate of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, recently received one of his alma mater’s biggest honors as he was one of five new inductees in the Stormy Petrels’ Baseball Hall of Fame.
“It was a humbling experience going down to that banquet,” Torrenti said. “There we were at the Westin hotel in Atlanta with 500 or 600 people, including the president of the university, eating $100 steaks, and everyone is there just for the five of us that got inducted, and I’m thinking ‘how did I get in this group?’ Like I told them in my speech, I find more comfort in a locker room than in a setting like that one.”
Torrenti said he got the call from Oglethorpe A.D. Jay Gardiner before a LaFayette practice, and that Rambler assistant coach Matt Brooks told the team the news.
“My first thought (after getting the call) wasn’t about the homeruns I hit or anything like that,” he said. “I thought about all those hours I spent in the cages by myself, or at the racquetball courts where we used to work on hitting at midnight after security had left for the night. There was a lot of hard work put into those times, and it’s nice to see a little reward come out of it.”
Torrenti, who prepped at Atlanta-area power McEachern, left Oglethorpe as one of the most decorated players to ever suit up for the program.
He was a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) All-Conference pick as a sophomore and again as a senior, being named as team MVP both times. A three-year captain, he enjoyed his finest season in his senior year when he was named to the All-SCAC Tournament Team after leading Oglethorpe to the SCAC Eastern Division title.
He was named to the All-South Region team for NCAA Division III, hitting a team-leading .376 with a .669 slugging percentage to go with 13 doubles, eight homeruns and 89 total bases. He also led the team that season in on-base percentage, RBIs, walks, sacrifice flies, and runners thrown out at catcher.
Current OU head coach Dan Giordano presented Torrenti, his college roommate, at the induction ceremony.
“A good catcher is worth his weight in gold, and thankfully for Oglethorpe from 1999 to 2002 not only did we have a good catcher, we had the best,” Giordano said at the ceremony. “As good as a baseball player as he was, he was an even better teammate. He was the glue that kept us together and the leader that every athlete wanted to follow. He always knew what to say and how to say it. He played the game the right way, with passion, respect and integrity. He was a relentless competitor, and was always looking to better himself and others around him.”
“What Danny said when he introduced me meant more to me than anything,” Torrenti said.
Following his sophomore season, Torrenti was invited to play for the (Hampton, Va.) Peninsula Pilots in the Coastal Plains League, a summer league for college players, which includes 2011 American League Cy Young and MVP Justin Verlander (Detroit) among its alumni. At the time, Torrenti was the only Division III player in the league.
“It was a really cool experience getting to travel and play in front of 5,000-6,000 people every night,” he said. “It was just like minor league ball.”
As part of a family with three generations of catchers — his father was a catcher in the California Angels’ organization — Torrenti considered a pro career himself, but knew his future was headed down a different path.
“I actually drove 13 hours with a buddy to try out for the (independent) Chicago Riverhawks,” he recalled. “The catchers were about to start throwing when the skies opened up and it rained for four hours. It turned out that they already had a ex-MLB draft pick on their roster at catcher. The other catcher was the general manager’s son, and they only were keeping two (catchers), so I knew it was time to hang em’ up.
“It was good to have that 13-hour drive back to think about it. I was crying most of the way home and when again I pulled into my parents’ driveway. It was tough to tell my dad I was hanging it up, but looking at where I am now, I’m really glad I made that decision. I was realistic about it and I knew I’d probably never get any higher than Class A ball, and my dream had always been to be a teacher and coach, plus I already had my degree and was already engaged at the time. (Minor league ball) is a tough lifestyle, but I had a taste of it in Virginia.”
Torrenti added that his induction is proof that good things can happen if you’re willing to work hard enough.
“I don’t think I was any more talented than anyone else,” he explained. “I just always took my joy and love of the game and tried to outwork people. I was the only guy on my high school team that didn’t end up playing at a Division I school, so I felt I had to work extra hard to prove myself.
"But I loved the work. Baseball has never been a burden to me. It’s always been a release and it’s the same today as it was when I was five years old.
“Baseball is a tough game. There’s a lot of failure in it and it will beat you up, but there are also a lot of blessings to be had from it if you are willing to put in the time.”