As Seth Beer rounded the bases, all he could hear was pandemonium. The Clemson freshman outfielder had hit a grand slam in the third inning of the Tiger’s third game of their NCAA Regional to help his team dig out of an early six-run deficit. It had travelled high and far, all the way to the batter’s eye wall in centerfield at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, the kind of grand wallop that Beer seemed to conjure up in similar moments all season to capture his university’s – and the nation’s – attention.
“My ears were ringing it was so loud with all the screams and roars and joy,” Beer said.
A year ago, Beer faced a monumental decision: stay at Lambert High School for his senior season and be eligible for the MLB Draft or enroll early at Clemson but postpone his potential professional career.
On Friday, Beer reaped the latest validation for his choice to join the Tigers, winning the Dick Howser Trophy as college baseball’s national player of the year. He becomes the first freshman to ever win the award that is selected by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, on the heels of becoming the first freshman ever to be named the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year.
“Obviously, it’s a tremendous honor,” Beer said. “It’s something I’m blessed to have the opportunity to have the experience. And also to bring it back to Clemson is just a tremendous feeling, to be able to celebrate that with Clemson University and the fans.
“It’s just a great accomplishment, something not only I worked hard for but the blood, sweat and tears of my family to get me to this point. It’s finally starting to set in that I had a good season.”
Beer rose to prominence this past season first through a series of signature moments. His first home run as a college player was a fifth-inning grand slam against Maine in the Tigers’ third game. He hit his first walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th of a 3-2 victory against Boston College on March 20.
But Beer’s reputation soared with one swing in a road game at Georgia on April 5 in what he called one of his two favorite moments of the season.
It was, of course, a homecoming of sorts for Beer. In front of family, friends and a contingent of Lambert administrators, Beer blasted a 2-2 pitch over a 50-feet scoreboard in right-center field to tie the game 6-6 in the top of the eighth.
In the days after, footage of the home run was widely shared on Twitter and blogs. After the game, Beer told the FCN, “To be honest, I think, to me, that felt like the hardest ball I've ever hit in my life. That was a cool feeling.”
Beer went on to hit .369 with 18 home runs, 13 doubles, 70 RBIs and a .535 on-base percentage, helping Clemson go 44-20, win the ACC championship and host an NCAA Regional Tournament. He is among four players as a finalist for the other major national player-of-the-year award, the Golden Spikes Award.
The Suwanee native is about to take his notoriety international. He was selected to play for USA Baseball’s collegiate national team. On June 26, he’ll fly to Los Angeles to train with the team for a week, then go on a tour playing national teams in China, Cuba and Japan.
“I’m excited to see how the game is different in other countries,” Beer said.
Just more proof to Beer that waiting on the pros has been worth it.
“If I didn’t go this path I would’ve never been able to experience this kind of stuff,” Beer said. “…I don’t regret the decision at all.”