Corbin doesn’t toss that around lightly. When he does, he’s picturing an era without batting gloves or excess equipment, uncomplicated players at only one speed, flying down baselines, fearlessly doing whatever it took.
“They were just playing with a lot of freedom,” Corbin said. “I know that era wasn’t perfect, but being in my 60s, I remember pretty clearly what those players looked like. There was no pomp and circumstance. It was just very aggressive baseball.”
Infielder Reginald Antonio Austin Jr., in Corbin’s view, is one of those players:
“He plays to win.”
That’d help explain how RJ Austin, a true freshman from Atlanta, has immediately stepped into an everyday role this season as the Commodores’ second baseman and a fixture in the heart of their batting order. While not unprecedented, that’s not often the case for newcomers to a program so deep in talent. Austin, though, was batting sixth for Vanderbilt on opening day.
And when he was, it wasn’t all that surprising. It went back to the previous summer, when Austin – the son of an NFL player and the nation’s No. 59 overall baseball prospect, according to Perfect Game – was expected to go fairly early as a high-schooler in the Major League Draft.
Instead, Austin withdrew from the draft a week ahead of time, confirming his intentions to attend Vanderbilt.
“Just talking to my family and telling them that I really want a college education,” Austin said, “and they wanted me to get a college education, too. Playing in a college is a one-time opportunity that you’re never going to get again. Major Leagues can wait, because college is more important than that. I felt like that was more important to me.”
If such a preemptive move – not even waiting to see where and when he might be picked – seems unconventional, well, that’s Austin.
How else could you describe a player who’s labeled a throwback by Corbin, and yet, is also the model representation of the modern-day college athlete?
I use that word literally. Austin is a model. Seriously.
Through an NIL deal with fashion house Coach , “They had me do a couple of photoshoots and stuff like that,” Austin said….