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First Pitch Baseball Banquet Holland’s Jersey Retired

Al Holland Sr. (honoree) stands at the podium with his son, Al Holland Jr. (center) as Earl Hilton, A&T’s director of athletics, holds Holland’s framed jersey. Photo Courtesy Micheal Simmons

Al Holland, Sr., a North Carolina A&T State University baseball legend who pitched for the program in the 1970’s, became just the second former student-athlete in school history to have his jersey retired.

Holland had his jersey retired at N.C. A&T baseball program’s 2nd Annual First Pitch Baseball Banquet on Saturday, February 8 in the Deese Ballroom of the Student Center. Jack McKeon, former manager of the (then) Florida Marlins who won a World Series with the team in 2003, served as the guest speaker.

The First Pitch Banquet was attended by current Aggie baseball players, baseball parents, alumni Aggie baseball players, former coaches, friends of A&T, and members of the university community.

“I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support in our second year of hosting the banquet,” said Hall. “To sell out the event in consecutive years is a testament to the championship caliber team we have built over the years, but also reflects a commitment from our alumni, Aggie baseball players and parents who care deeply about the program’s successes.”

Earl M. Hilton III, A&T director of athletics, presented Holland with his retired jersey. Holland joins Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and former Aggie men’s basketball player Al Attles as the only two Aggies to have their jerseys retired.

Holland pitched for the Aggies from 1972-1975 before enjoying a 10-year career in the majors. During his time with the Aggies, Holland pitched four no-hitters; one in each of his four seasons. His no-hitter in 1972 versus North Carolina Central University included 25 strikeouts.

In 1972, he led the nation in strikeouts (143) and boasted a 0.54 ERA. Baseball participated in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) during his final two years and his dominance on the mound continued. In 1974, he finished the season with a 0.95 ERA and 105 strikeouts and in 1975; he led the nation with a “staggering” 0.26 ERA and 118 strikeouts.

He pitched in relief for the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1983 World Series. In 1983, his best season, he received the Rolaids Relief Man of Year Award. He was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015. Holland was named a two-time NAIA All-American and was inducted into the MEAC Hall of Fame in 1993.

N.C. A&T baseball also honored the 2005 MEAC championship baseball team.

During his speech, McKeon shared tidbits of wisdom with the current team, while keeping the crowd entertained by providing humorous tales about his travels as a manager. “Sometimes you have to keep your dreams but change your direction,” McKeon challenged the team to remember.