April 28, 2014
WACO, Texas - Baylor baseball will retire the jersey of former All-American pitcher and hitter Jason Jennings (1997-99) during a pregame ceremony on Saturday, May 17, vs. TCU at Baylor Ballpark, the program announced Monday.
The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. CT and the first 1,000 fans will receive a Jason Jennings jersey pennant. Baylor President and Chancellor Judge Ken Starr and Athletic Director Ian McCaw will take part in the ceremony as Jennings will also throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Baylor's most decorated baseball player, Jennings was inducted into the Baylor Hall of Fame on Oct. 23, 2009, as a three-time All-American and the first consensus Division I National Player of the Year in 1999. That season, he hit .386 and picked up 13 wins with 172 strikeouts and a 2.58 ERA.
As a hitter, Jennings ranks in the top 10 at Baylor in career batting average (.344), home runs (39), RBI (161), extra base hits (80), total bases (365), slugging percentage (.606) and on-base percentage (.430). As a pitcher, he ranks in the top 10 at Baylor in career wins (27), saves (13), complete games (15), shutouts (3), Big 12 opponent batting average (.230), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.02), innings (313.1), WHIP (1.226), strikeouts (377), hits allowed per nine innings (7.44) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.83).
Overall, his career hitting line includes 172 games and 154 starts with a .344 average, 119 runs, 207 hits, 41 doubles, 39 homers, 161 RBI, 93 walks and three steals. His career pitching line includes 69 games and 34 starts with a 27-11 record, 3.56 ERA, 15 complete games, three shutouts, 13 saves and 157 runs given up (124 earned) on 259 hits and 125 walks with 377 strikeouts in 313.1 innings.
Among honors won at Baylor, Jennings also garnered the 1999 Golden Spikes, Dick Howser and Rotary Smith awards - the only player in program history to earn any of those accolades. He pitched for the USA Baseball National team in 1997 and 1998. He was a first-team freshman All-American by Baseball America in 1997. In 1998, he was a first-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and The Sporting News and a third-teamer by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. In 1999, he was a unanimous first-team All-American - the first in BU history and only three others have done so since.
In the Big 12, Jennings was the Player of the Year in 1998 and 1999 and the Freshman of the Year in 1997, and was a first-team all-conference member all three years.
In addition to being an All-American on the field, he earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 1998 and 1999.
At Poteet High School in Mesquite, Texas, Jennings was a two-sport standout in football and baseball, earning all-district honors in football as both a punter and kicker. As a senior in baseball, he was named the district MVP, posting a .410 batting average with seven home runs and compiling a 10-3 record with a 0.92 ERA and 132 strikeouts.
Drafted in the 54th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jennings turned down the offer to turn pro and came to Baylor in the fall of 1996.
The Colorado Rockies' first-round draft pick in '99, Jennings got his first call to the majors two years later. In an historic major-league debut on Aug. 24, 2001, he threw a five-hit shutout, went 3-for-4 at the plate and hit a home run in a 10-0 shutout of the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, becoming the first pitcher in modern history to throw a shutout and homer in his first game.
After picking up four wins in his late-season call-up with the Rockies in 2001, Jennings earned National League Rookie of the Year honors the next year when he was 16-8 with a 4.52 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 185.1 innings.
Jennings struggled with health issues each of the two previous seasons, going through two surgeries and losing 14 of 16 decisions with the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. Finally healthy again, he was a solid middle reliever for the Rangers through most of the 2009 season in his first bullpen experience of his career and did not pitch again in the Majors after the season. He officially retired in June of 2012.
Since his playing days have been over, Jennings has enjoyed spending more time with his wife, Kelly, and three children, Braden, 13; Bailee, 11; and Keathan, 7.
Jennings' jersey retirement will be just the second such honor the program has ever done. The first was the retirement of legendary BU player and coach Mickey Sullivan's No. 7 on April 19, 1997.
All of Jennings' former Baylor teammates and Major League colleagues are invited to join in the pregame ceremonies. Fans are encouraged to arrive early due to graduation ceremonies being held at the Ferrell Center earlier in the day.