The maroon and gold colors of the Armstrong Pirates have run through Calvain Culberson’s blood since he stared on the baseball team as a freshman in 1985.
Culberson had a record-breaking career at Armstrong and his prestigious play led him to being inducted into the Pirates Hall of Fame in 2011. In his career as a four year starter, Culberson holds seven records.
After his senior season, professional baseball seemed like a reality. The pressure during his senior season bore down on Culberson, and after what he considers a “disappointing season,” the draft process was not easy.
“The draft process was a nerve wracking experience. I was anxiously awaiting a phone call,” Culberson said.
The wait was worth the result, when the Atlanta Braves drafted him in the 42nd round. What was a dream for any Georgia baseball player, became a reality for Culberson.
“The Braves were my favorite team, because they drafted me. I grew up a Braves fan, but whoever drafted me would have become my favorite team,” stated Culberson.
Culberson easily found success at Armstrong, but found the professional level to be more of a roller coaster of ups and downs. His first season he continued succeeding, but after a year and a half with the Braves, the organization released him.
In this situation, many athletes find themselves at a crossroads. This game has been a part of their lives forever, and they have succeeded at every level. Culberson decided to go a different route than most would.
“At tryout camps I told teams that I could pitch if they would like me to. The last time I pitched was in high school, but I knew if I wanted to continue my career, I needed to make a change,” Culberson explained.
His versatility led him to signing with the Cincinnati Reds. The transition to a pitcher was not as hard as he expected, for it was mostly a mechanical adjustment after taking so much time off from pitching.
Pitching took him to the Reds and the Boston Red Sox. His minor league career concluded in 1995 after his shoulder blew out, ending an eight year professional baseball career. Again, Culberson’s path led to Armstrong, when an assistant coaching position opened at the same time his playing days were over.
“I always wanted to coach and help develop players. The transition was not an easy one, but I love what I do now,” Culberson said.
Culberson has had a successful coaching transition. Recently, he won the 2012 Assistant Coach of the Year by the Georgia Dugout Club.
“The award is a refection of the head coach and players. It’s hard to be successful without talent surrounding you,” Culberson saod.
Armstrong is a second home to Culberson. He spends hours in his office and on the field, helping the Pirates get better. Even while in the minors, he spent as much time as he could at Armstrong, working on his game and helping others.
“I hope to always be here. Armstrong is my second home and I hope that it will be until they have to force me to retire,” Culberson joked, but with quite a serious demeanor.