Once a Tiger, always a Tiger
Hartselle’s Garrett Wade signs with Auburn
Garrett Wade has the build of a Major League pitcher. He is 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds. When he goes into his wind up, he looks like he could be pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays, the team that drafted him this year. It is only up close that one can see Wade has only just graduated from high school; it is then someone might notice how young Wade is and how much of his charmed life he still has ahead of him.
Wade had a phenomenal senior season. He led the Hartselle Tigers to the Alabama 6A state tournament with a 1.02 ERA and a 7-2 record. Wade threw a perfect game against Collierville High School, which he said was his proudest moment of the season. “At any level, a perfect game is pretty rare,” Wade said. “It was pretty special to get to share that with my teammates – especially to do it here on the home field (Sparkman Park).”
Wade said he was confident in his skills during the perfect game. “I could tell by the first inning that I had my best stuff that day, so I wasn’t too concerned about it,” Wade said. “We had a pretty comfortable lead, so I was trying to get outs like any other game, but it was definitely in the back of my mind.”
Wade was honored with the 2017-2018 Gatorade Alabama Baseball Player of the Year award for his hard work on and off the field. Wade’s excellence on the field is well documented, but his ability in the classroom is not as well known. Wade maintained a weighted 4.24 grade point average and scored a 29 on his ACT. He was also a member of the Mu Alpha Theta math honors society. William Booth, his coach at Hartselle, describes Wade in superlatives. “He’s a super young man, and a great, great student,” Booth said.
Wade will be pitching for the Auburn University Tigers next season under Butch Thompson. If this says anything about what might be possible for Wade in the future, the first overall pick of the 2018 Major League Baseball draft, Casey Mize, also pitches for Auburn. “I’m excited about getting to work with Coach Thompson and learn under him,” Wade said. “It’s a pretty exciting time to be in that program because most of the guys are young, and I think we’ll be good going forward.”
Wade started playing baseball when he was 4 years old in the Dixie Youth league at Sparkman Park in Hartselle – not far from where he threw his perfect game. “Dixie Youth is where I fell in love with the game,” Wade said. “It means the world to me to have had something like that to teach me the love of the game that young.”
Wade started pitching when he was 9 and began playing on travel teams at age 10. Growing up, Clayton Kershaw was his favorite player. “I love the curveball he has,” Wade said. “He shows a lot of fire on the field, and I love that.”
Though baseball was the main reason Wade committed to Auburn, he said it was not the only reason. “I love the feel of the campus there,” Wade said. “Obviously the coaching staff had a big part in why I committed there, but the campus has that small-town feel like Hartselle, so I’m excited about that.”
Though Wade is excited about going to Auburn, he grew up an Alabama fan. “I grew up a very, very big Alabama fan,” Wade said. “I visited both Auburn and Alabama, and I loved it in Tuscaloosa, but Auburn won me over. It took a little getting used to, adjusting from Alabama to Auburn, but I’m full-on Auburn now.”
Outside of a future in baseball, Wade said he is not certain about what he wants to do. “I’m not for sure yet what I want to study, but I’m thinking exercise science,” Wade said. “I want to do something that will keep me around sports. I’m excited about the opportunity to go down there and go to school and play.”
It is possible Wade will be drafted in the early rounds of the MLB draft after three to four years at Auburn. He was ranked 139 in Baseball America’s top 500 prospects in 2018, so there is no telling what further training will do for his chances.
Wade said he is grateful to the Hartselle community. “I’m just so thankful to be from this community,” Wade said. “There’s so many people who have impacted my life – not just in baseball.” Wade never takes sole credit for his accomplishments. He strives to be a humble man who raises everyone up with him. “I want to thank my teammates for everything that they’ve done from freshman through senior year,” Wade said. “Most of the seniors I’ve played with since I was 6 or 7 years old, so it was pretty special to share all of that with them. I’m just so blessed to go through this program and have a good experience going forward at Auburn and whatever is after that.”
Wade said he is also is thankful to God and his coach. “I want to thank God for the abilities he’s given me as far as baseball goes,” Wade said, “and Coach Booth has meant the world for me. There hasn’t been a time when he hasn’t gone out of his way to help me – that means everything to me.”