Hunter Hargrove is making history, while the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation (BBYF) continues to make changes in the lives of youngsters.
The former Mansfield High and Texas Tech standout received the inaugural Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award (BBSCA) at the BBYF Awards Gala held Tuesday, Sept. 26 at the Fort Worth Club.
The foundation recognizes outstanding eighth-grade students each year by awarding the promise of a college scholarship to selected students who have competed in its annual scholarship competition. By focusing attention on the availability of aid for merit at the middle school level, the BBYF hopes to inspire students to plan for higher education, dedicate themselves to work hard to reach that goal, and push them to seek out additional aid at an earlier stage in their lives.
“The Board of Directors of the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation was exploring opportunities to reinvigorate the Foundation. After much soul searching, they established a college baseball award, linking the baseball roots of Bobby and the Foundation and its mission of providing college scholarships to middle school students in the DFW area,” said Tracy Taylor, BBSCA executive director.
“The award includes the same tenets as the Foundation’s signature scholarship program in that it is based not only on performance at the plate but academics and integrity as well.”
Hargrove was the 2017 Big 12 Conference Co-Player of the Year and was selected to numerous All-America teams this past season while playing first base for the Red Raiders. Hargrove led Texas Tech with a .343 batting average in 2017. He also held the team’s top marks in hits (84), doubles (26) and runs (56), while also driving in 51 runs.
A three-year letter winner, Hargrove left Tech with 139 hits, 91 RBI and 82 runs scored for a career batting average of .315.
In June, he was selected in the 25th round of the Major League Baseball Free Agent Draft by the Oakland Athletics. He finished his first season of minor league ball playing in Arizona (Rookie) and Vermont (Class A) with a .266 average, 11 doubles, one home run and 20 runs batted in for 143 at-bats.
For winning the Collegiate Slugger Award, Hargrove has a $2,500 scholarship awarded to his school’s general scholarship fund.
Hargrove, a media strategies major, is also a two-time Academic All-Big 12 selection.
“This means everything to me,” said Hargrove. “It’s great to be recognized for what I did on and off the field. A lot of the credit goes to my teammates and coaches. We had a really solid team this year that included a few seniors mixed in with some very talented younger players.
“I was lucky enough to put up some really good numbers this year and a lot of that was the fact my teammates were getting on base in front of me. I was fortunate enough to play every day. I gave it everything I had this season. It’s a blessing to win the Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award.”
Hargrove is not only good at baseball, he bowled a 299 recently.
The inaugural award was open to nominations from all Division I baseball programs in Texas. In all, 30 players were nominated and a 15-member selection committee voted on the candidates.
“I believe the selection committee did a great job evaluating all the criteria that were set forth for the award,” Taylor said. “Hunter was the only player ranked in the top five in virtually every hitting category we looked at, and was ranked third on the watch list in a key stat (walk-to-strikeout ratio), identified by Dr. Bobby Brown, former New York Yankee great and advisory board member, and former TCU baseball coach and selection committee member Lance Brown, as the hallmark of a great hitter.
“On top of that, Hunter is twice an Academic All Big-12 Honoree and has been described as a leader both on and off the field. Everyone that we talked to could not say enough about Hunter as a player and a person.”
Hargrove was a three-year varsity letter winner at Mansfield High School, where he played every position on the field during his three-year prep career. As a senior, he earned several honors, including district MVP, North Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star, second-team all-state, and Texas Coaches Association All-Star.
Hunter is the son of Randy and Jennie Hargrove.
“We could not be more pleased with Hunter Hargrove as our winner,” Taylor said. “He had a great year and he is an even better young man. Hunter was a leader of the Tech program both on and off the field – and he is a local kid.”
This year’s gala will once again have a live and silent auction, which includes lots of sports memorabilia.
Bragan, a former major league baseball player, manager, and coach, established the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation in 1991 as an effort to encourage children to stay in school and pursue their educational and career dreams. Bragan, who passed away at age 92 in 2010, was known as “Mr. Baseball” in Fort Worth due to his long baseball career, as well as the fact that he was the player/manager of the Fort Worth Cats from 1948-1952.
Bragan played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and would go on to manage in the majors for the Pirates, Indians and Braves.
More than 37,000 eighth grade students from 146 public schools representing 22 school districts from across North Texas are offered the opportunity to apply for the foundation scholarships. To date, the BBYF has awarded 766 scholarships worth more than $1.9 million.
The foundation reports that 98 percent of the eighth-grade students receiving the promise of a scholarship have enrolled in college, many as the first in their family to do so.