published Monday, April 30th, 2012

Baylor’s Spencer Craig earns 12th varsity letter

Spencer Craig, a senior classman at Baylor,  played on the football and baseball teams as well as wrestling all four years. He earned 12 letters and was captain for all three sports his senior year.
Spencer Craig, a senior classman at Baylor, played on the football and baseball teams as well as wrestling all four years. He earned 12 letters and was captain for all three sports his senior year.
Photo by Dan Henry.

When Baylor School holds its postseason baseball banquet, a unique career will come to a close.

Spencer Craig will receive his 12th varsity letter — four each in football, wrestling and baseball.

Baylor officials had to go back to 1964 to find a more decorated male athlete in Jimmy Brown, who earned 13 letters in soccer, football, baseball, wrestling and track before going on to play football at Georgia Tech.

If Craig had his way, his accomplishments would pass quietly into the school’s athletic archives. What he has done, he says, has been for the enjoyment of each sport and that special bond he has come to call Baylor’s band of brothers.

“It has been about having fun, just being a middle and high school kid playing sports,” he said.

Craig was a three-time state wrestling medalist and a member of three state wrestling championship teams. Last season as a defensive back he led the state-runner-up football Red Raiders in tackles. He leads the baseball team with a .433 batting average and .612 slugging percentage.

It was never about personal glory. Craig flinched when asked if he’d ever thought about superstardom.

“We have a saying here that ‘It’s not about me but about the B,’ and Spencer is the poster child for that motto,” Baylor athletic director Thad Lepcio said.

He considered skipping wrestling as a freshman and at other times thought about giving up football and baseball. Each time his love of the sport and respect for his teammates lured him back.

“Honestly, after my sophomore year I wanted to be like [former teammate] Mac Ferguson,” Craig said. “He was a good athlete, but it was more than being fast and strong. He was about doing the right thing. He was never in it for the glory. He never complained. He just did the right things — what he was supposed to do — and that’s how I wanted to be.”

He found his roles and played them.

“No, I never thought of myself as the man,” he said. “Everybody has a job and every sport is a team sport, even wrestling, and you try to do your job to the best of your ability. There are no one-man teams.”

Baylor football coach Phil Massey appreciated Craig for each of the tackles he made, but the tackles were never mentioned when Massey talked about the safety.

“The thing you really appreciate as a coach is that he is one of the few kids who simply enjoy playing. So many kids want to specialize,” the coach said. “He’s always been a team player and a model of what a good teammate is. Spencer is a good high school athlete, and he’ll be able to look back and say he probably did as much as anybody when it came to contributing to the Baylor community and Baylor athletics.”

Added just-retired Baylor wrestling assistant coach Schaack Van Deusen: “He won the award at our wrestling banquet for ‘best team player.’ He’s a ‘yes, sir; no, sir’ kid but also a fighter, a hard-nosed kid, an athlete, and that made him a lot of fun to be around.”

Craig’s peers elected him as a captain in football, baseball and wrestling.

“I’m back into the [19]60s now and I haven’t found [another] one,” Lepcio said when asked about the frequency of three-sport captains in a single school year. “It speaks well for the respect his teammates had for him on and off the field.”

Baylor baseball coach Gene Etter was hard pressed to name a better team player.

“He’s just one of the good guys,” Etter said. “He always seems to be able to say and do the right things. I have found him to be level-leading and one who was able to see all aspects of situations. He’s a leader, and even if it’s in a quiet way he’ll make a point and it’s usually about doing the right thing.

“I guess he has won all of us because he is a good guy.”

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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