Georgia Tech Baseball: Catching up with former Jackets slugger Whit Robbins

Apr 13, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Twins hat and glove in the dugout during the game against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Twins hat and glove in the dugout during the game against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Remember those back-to-back ACC title Yellow Jackets teams from 2004 and 2005, and Georgia Tech’s last College World Series run in 2006? Slugger Whit Robbins was a big part of that success.

Whit Robbins came to the Flats for the 2004 season following a highly successful prep career under coach Chip Henderson at Calhoun High School in northwest Georgia.

Playing mainly first base and a little third, Robbins found himself as an integral part to one of the most successful runs in Georgia Tech baseball’s history.

During Robbins’ career at Tech, the Yellow Jackets won back-to-back regular season ACC titles (2004,2005), a conference tournament championship (2005) and a College World Series appearance (2006).

Robbins made an immediate impact for Tech, hitting .313 in 54 games (38 starts). In 2005 he saw an increased workload, playing in 60 games for the Jackets.

In his junior season, Robbins hit .352 in 66 starts his freshman season, hitting 13 homers and driving in 67 RBI on 87 hits. Following the 2006 campaign, he was drafted in the fourth round of the MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins.

I had a chance to catch up with Whit Robbins over Memorial Day Weekend to look back on those successful Tech teams and to see what he’s up to these days.

Tell me a little bit about what you’ve been up to lately (personal, work, sports).

WR- Well, I’ve been fairly busy. Over the past five years, I’ve gotten married, had three kids, built a house, and tried my best to build a business. I enjoy spending as much time with the family as I can.  Luckily, I have a job where I don’t have to travel much at all. As far as sports, about the only thing I do sports related is fantasy sports. I have not gotten into coaching, lessons, competitive softball, or things of that nature.

It’s funny you ask. Basically, the only competitive thing I have done over the past few years was join a couple tennis league. My wife and I (she’s a collegiate athlete as well) missed some of the competitiveness of team sports so we thought this would be a good idea. First match, she goes down with a torn Achilles. A couple weeks and a surgery later, here we are, just trying to survive with the three little ones.

You were a 2006 draft pick of the Twins. I know the minor leagues aren’t all sunshine and rainbows, but now that you’re looking back on your time as a professional, what were some of the highs and lows of the minors?

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WR – It was always a dream of mine to be a professional baseball player. As far back as I can remember, it was what I wanted to do. So, the highlight was achieving that goal. I had fun playing and met some great guys, it was pretty cool to get an actual check for doing something you’ve always done. After that initial gratification was where the sunshine and rainbows ended for me. Professional baseball isn’t for everyone. There were some frustrating injuries along the way, but for some reason professional baseball felt like a job. It had never felt that way before, but the “fun” had evaporated.

What are some things about the MiLB player lifestyle that fans might not know or expect? 

WR – You literally do not get paid minimum wag, may only get one day off every two or three weeks, literally work everyday. Work starts at two or three o’clock when you arrive to the field for a 7:30 p.m. game.  Most of the “work” happens before the game. Players get no pay in the offseason, and never stayed at the Ritz.

You were part of some pretty solid teams at Tech. What are some of the memories/moments that stick out? 

WR – Realizing I could play on that level as early as I did. I thought I could, I just didn’t go into my freshman year expecting to start. We basically dominated the ACC for the three years I was there.  There were some  really good teams in the conference and I believe we won 40-plus consecutive series. I believe we were ranked No. 1 in the nation at some point in the year in both 2005 and 2006.  We were one of the 8 top national seeds for the regional each year. Obviously winning the ACC tournament in 2004 and going to the CWS in 2006. We were so close each year and favored the get there, it was nice to finally get it done my junior year.

Who are some of the players that influenced you most at Tech, and are there any that you still keep in contact with? 

WR – Our group of guys enjoyed talking smack. It was a confident group. It was good natured and fun. It was one of those deals where I don’t think there was one or two guys that had an influence on me, it was more of a collective group. You fed off the ribbing you may receive going 0-4. It was fun. I still keep in touch with several of the guys. We have a fantasy football league in which 10 of us play in every year, so that’s a good way to stay in touch. GT does a good job of hosting some alumni events as well. Personally I haven’t been to very many due to my busy schedule, but they do host 2-3 events a year for former lettermen.

It’s postseason time for NCAA baseball.. What was a bigger thrill.. winning those 2005 ACC titles, or the 2006 College World Series appearance? 

WR – Without a doubt, it was making it to the CWS. See, winning the ACC tournament was something we wanted to do, but it wasn’t something we set our sights on early in the season. It’s so close to the regional, that you almost conserve some of pitching to make sure some of your top arms are available to go when it counts. To us, the ACC regular season championship was more important than the tournament for that reason.

How good were those 2005 and 2006 teams, and were they as fun to play on as they were to watch? 

WR – The three years I was fortunate enough to play were all great. If you thought it was fun to watch, we were having a better time playing. We had a blast, just wish we would have finished off each season a little better.

Your brother Matt played at UGA some of the same time you were at Tech. How was it playing that blood feud a few times a season?

WR – It was unique.  In state rival and brother on the other team. We had played against each other 1,000 times in the backyard, but playing against each other on that stage was special. We were proud of each other. Several of the games we played against them, we were playing for something. Obviously, being in state rivals, there was enough motivation, but freshman year we faced off to see who went to Omaha. Probably the most crushing defeat I’ve ever had. We always had the Turner Field matchup as well. It was always a game you wanted to win because there were 20 to 30 thousand people in the stands. Then in 2006, we both were in the CWS at the same time.  Not sure if it has ever been done, but I’d bet it hasn’t happened much.

Next: Recruiting not Yellow Jackets issue in recent seasons

These days, Whit says he’s just enjoying playing T-ball in the front yard with the little ones.  As for any future involvement in baseball, Robbins says “I’m sure I’ll be involved in some capacity going forward with my kids.”