Marty Gantt grew up going to North Augusta High School baseball games.
By the time he got to high school, he started doing something else: winning them.
Gantt finished perhaps the finest baseball career in North Augusta history this spring by winning five times as a left-handed pitcher with an ERA of 1.44. As an outfielder, he hit .395, made the all-state team and for the second season in a row is The Augusta Chronicle 's South Carolina Baseball Player of the Year.
For at least two years, Gantt was the face of a program that nearly won the state title last season and lost in the district final this season.
"It sure is going to be a funny, funny feeling without him around," North Augusta coach Vic Radcliff said.
Gantt, named South Carolina's "Mr. Baseball" as a junior, signed with the University of South Carolina before the season. He said he felt less pressure this year, his future solidified.
As a junior, Gantt said, "I felt like I had something to prove" and that he tried to strike out every batter. He didn't, but it would have been hard to do better than his 161 strikeouts in 84 innings.
"(This year) I had so much more confidence in my infielders," Gantt said.
Sure enough, his strikeouts decreased to fewer than 100, but his ERA remained nearly identical to his 1.33 mark as a junior. The Yellow Jackets lost in the district championship to Boiling Springs, which went on to win the state's Class AAAA crown.
"Marty had a lot of pressure on him this season after winning (Mr. Baseball) as a junior," said Bruce Zuehlke, the Midland Valley coach and a neighbor of the Gantts in North Augusta. "He handled it real well. I believe he will be successful in just about anything he does."
Marty's father, Bobby, is a North Augusta assistant. Marty, a former Yellow Jackets bat boy, followed him to practices when he was as young as 5.
Back then, he learned to appreciate what it took to become a complete player, and he worked to flip his limitations -- the fingers on his right hand stop at the knuckles -- to his advantage.
This is what Gantt wants his legacy to be.
"I want to be remembered as someone that worked hard enough to really achieve something," Gantt said. "If I could be anything, I want to be an example of that."
HIGH SCHOOL: North Augusta
POSITION: LHP, OF
NOTABLES: All-state choice won five games on the mound for North Augusta. ... Had an ERA of 1.44 and hit .395. ... 2007 South Carolina Player of the Year.
FAMILY: Parents Bobby and Theresa; brother Robby, 30; sisters Holli, 22, and Lynli, 13
FAVORITE FOOD: Steak
FAVORITE MOVIE: For Love of the Game
FAVORITE TV SHOW: Baseball Tonight
FAVORITE CAR: Plymouth Prowler
DREAM DATE: Girlfriend Stephanie Rozier
LISA KAYLOR/STAFF Marty Gantt was productive on the mound and at the plate during his senior season with North Augusta. The left-hander finished the year with five wins, an ERA of 1.44 and hit .395.