The Legacy of Jim Poole: Remembering a Baseball Great and ALS Advocate

Jim Poole, a former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher, passed away at the age of 57 due to complications from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Poole had an impressive 11-season career in the big leagues, which included stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers, and Montreal Expos. He made 431 appearances as a left-handed reliever, finishing with a record of 22-12, four saves, and a 4.31 ERA.

One of the most notable moments in Poole’s career came during the 1995 World Series when he faced off against the Atlanta Braves. The Cleveland Indians, led by Poole, won the American League (AL) pennant and reached the World Series. Poole made two appearances in the series, and in the decisive Game 6, he entered the game in a scoreless tie in the fifth inning. Poole managed to escape a difficult situation by striking out Fred McGriff, a Hall of Fame slugger. However, in the following inning, David Justice hit a home run that ultimately secured the championship for the Braves.

Before his professional career, Jim Poole played college baseball for Georgia Tech, where he made significant contributions to the team’s success. He helped the Yellow Jackets win four consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Tournament championships and set several records that still stand today. Poole pitched in 120 games, struck out 263 batters in 188 innings, and is the all-time leader in career saves with 22. His exceptional performance earned him two All-ACC selections and a place in the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.

Following his retirement from professional baseball, Poole continued to dedicate himself to the sport and the community. He returned to Georgia Tech, his alma mater, to support the baseball program as a fundraiser. Additionally, Poole served as the pitching coach at Johns Creek High School in suburban Atlanta, sharing his knowledge and experience with young athletes.

In 2021, Jim Poole received a devastating diagnosis of ALS. Instead of allowing the disease to define him, he became an advocate for ALS awareness. He organized an ALS Awareness Day during the 2022 baseball season, where both the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and their opponents wore wristbands and jerseys commemorating Poole. The university even retired his jersey number, 21, in honor of his self-determination, academic excellence, and outstanding character.

Despite the challenges he faced, Jim Poole left an indelible mark on the baseball community and the fight against ALS. His determination, both on and off the field, continues to inspire others. Georgia Tech Athletic Director J Batt expressed his admiration for Poole, calling him a legend and an inspiration. Poole is survived by his wife, Kim, three children, and two grandchildren.

Though his passing is undoubtedly a loss, the impact of Jim Poole’s legacy transcends the game of baseball. He will forever be remembered for his achievements as a player, his unwavering support for his alma mater’s baseball program, and his bravery in the face of ALS. Jim Poole’s story serves as a reminder of the resilience and character that define true champions, and his efforts to raise awareness for ALS will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the fight against the disease.

MLB

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