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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Alan Cockrell, Peyton's Predecessor - 475

Check out the revisited Alan Cockrell feature from October 2011: Alan Cockrell, Easy Decision

Alan Cockrell returned to his alma-mater Tennessee, talking about how his time at the school prepared him for a quarter century in baseball.

But it wasn't all the school's baseball program. Football, too.

Cockrell, current hitting coach for the Seattle Mariners, and 1990 member of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, played quarterback for the Volunteers 1982 and 1983, the spot Peyton Manning would hold 15 years later.

"For me, the football background was big because of the exposure to 97,000-100,000 fans every week," Cockrell told in November 2009. "That is similar to what you experience at the big league level on a daily basis and was a nice prelude to what I've been fortunate enough to do for the past 27 years."

But for Cockrell, big league life as a player was still six years away by the time 1990 came around. And, even then, it was a brief 22 days from his debut in the majors and his final game in the majors.

Cockrell was originally drafted by the Giants in 1984, ninth overall. Cockrell chose the several-thousand-dollar bonus check over over his senior season as the Vols QB.

But his progression to the bigs would be slow. He made AAA in 1987 after three seasons in the minors. That's where his playing career would stall - for a decade. On the way, Cockrell took a shot at replacement baseball, before being sent back to AAA at strike's end. But each year through 1996, Cockrell parked in AAA, only a 12-game stint in AA broke that string.

That is, until Sept. 7, 1996. He played in 9 games that September with the Rockies, coming to bat nine times, getting two hits and two RBIs. His final game, Sept. 29, would also be his final game as a player.

But his baseball career would continue, coaching, managing and instructing in the minors. In 2007, he became the Rockies' hitting coach, coaching the Rockies hitters to the World Series.

Having skipped his senior season with the Volunteers, Cockrell had no regrets after arriving in single-A Fresno that summer.

"No question about it, I'm happy with my decision," Cockrell said in a Palm Beach Post archives article from July 1984, adding he missed football. "But I chose to play this game, and I'm glad I did."

He is now the hitting coach with the Mariners, coaching on a Mariners staff alongside three other members of the 1990 CMC set: first base coach Lee Tinsley, pitching coach Rick Adair and the manager himself, Don Wakamatsu.

Cockrell was also traded once for a set member, swapped for Charles Scott April 17, 1990, in time for both to be pictured with their new clubs. Cockrell still calls Colorado Springs home.
1990 CMC Tally
Cards Reviewed: 48/880 - 5.5%
Major Leaguers: 28 - 58%
Never Made the Majors: 20 - 42%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 11
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 17

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