|Greyhound Guidry an athletic thoroughbred |
|By: By KENNETH COKER, Messenger Sports Reporter |
|Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 3:31 pm |
It runs in the family.
Union City Greyhounds’ first baseman/pitcher Justin Guidry flips to the pitcher covering first for an out earlier in the season.
That’s undoubtedly the best cliché to sum up current Union City Greyhounds’ pitcher/outfielder Justin Guidry and his athletic prowess.
His father, Paul, who can been seen in the crowd on weekends at Elam Stadium, had an eight-year National Football League career as a linebacker with the Buffalo Bills (1966-72) and the Houston Oilers (’73).
Meanwhile, Guidry’s mother, Janice, was also a standout athlete — lettering in volleyball at the University of Buffalo — and his older sister Margaux ran track at the University of Lousiana-Lafeyette.
“It was neat growing up and I learned a lot from my dad,” said Justin Guidry, a left-handed pitcher for UC this summer. “He has all these stories that I loved to hear when I was little about his playing days.”
One such story involves his father’s interception of a pass from Baltimore Colts’ great Johnny Unitas.
“When I was really young — about 1958 — I remember going to the grocery story and watching part of a football game on television between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts,” explained Guidry, now 65 and the head football coach at DuPont Tyler Middle School in Nashville. “That stuck in my mind and Unitas became my hero.
“Then in 1970, we played against the Colts and I get to be on the same field as him. And so, as it would happen, I got in the way of one of his passes and happened to intercept it. I hated it myself for about 30 minutes, but I got over it. About a month before he died, Unitas signed that ball and it’s one of my prized possessions.”
Another one of those valuable assets for the former Bills’ linebacker is his son, who pitches collegiately at Middle Tennessee State University.
“It’s been quite humbling watching Justin play baseball,” the elder Guidry said. “So much has changed since I was in college. The training facilities are like night and day. When I was with the Bills — a professional team — we lived in a motel during training camp and the practice field was literally the field behind that motel. Now, there’s an indoor practice facility and a lot of the coaching, especially at the college level, is better.”
Though the coaches at MTSU may be more decorated than many of the paraprofessionals of yesteryear, the younger Guidry may have gotten a little extra instruction from his fourth cousin — New York Yankees’ great Ron Guidry.
“When I was younger he took me to Disney World,” Guidry said. “I haven’t had a lot of contact with him in the past few years, but he showed me some pitches back then.”
Apparently, Justin took to some of his relative’s pitching advice to heart.
At Father Ryan High School, he gained a nod to the All-State team on the diamond with a .468 batting average and 7-1 record as a junior.
Still, Guidry also stood out as the starting quarterback on the gridiron during his senior season.
But in the end, more schools came knocking for Guidry’s services as a two-way baseball player.
“I had more opportunities with baseball,” Justin Guidry explained. “More recruiters got to see me because I played in both my sophomore and junior years, whereas, in football I only started as a senior.”
And while the younger Guidry — who boasts of a two-seam fastball, circle change and a curveball — won’t be following in his dad’s NFL footsteps, Paul Guidry isn’t disappointed in his son’s choice to pursue baseball instead of the gridiron.
“I’m not like that,” the former Bills’ linebacker said. “I’ve lived my life and I told Justin it was his decision. The training is somewhat the same, but I told him I couldn’t help him with a curveball.”
Though maybe not helpful with the techniques needed to throw a successful offspeed pitch, Paul Guidry has been able to give his son the advice from one that’s been to the pinnacle of sports and made it.
“The competition is better today because of the coaching and equipment,” he said. “That said, I’ve always told Justin and other children I talk to that, in order to excel, you have to do what others don’t want to do.”
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.