GOOCHLAND, VA - From the fields of Goochland County, to the bright lights of the Major Leagues, Justin Verlander has always been great at baseball. But even what he did this weekend impresses those who know him best.
Goochland threw the second no-hitter of his career on Saturday, facing the minimum, and being one walk away from a perfect game. Verlander's other no-hitter came in 2007.
"I think he still has a few more in him," said former Goochland baseball coach, and current athletic director Bryan Gordon.
Verlander was easy to coach in high school - Gordon says he just gave him the ball, and that was it. Goochland retired Verlander's #4 red and gold jersey, and it sits framed inside the school's gymnasium. Alongside the jersey reads some of Verlander's ridiculous stats - 427 career strikeouts, one season of 72 innings pitched, 144 K's and a microscopic ERA of 0.29.
Gordon says the community still roots hard for Verlander and says his voicemail was loaded with calls on Saturday night after Verlander's impressive feat.
He also says that Verlander's success has helped shape the program for the future. Other Goochland players have looked up to what he's done, and seen that it can be accomplished coming from a small town. GHS grad John Hicks is currently a slugger for UVA, and is expected to be a high draft pick. Verlander's brother Ben is a relief pitcher and Justin's alma mater, Old Dominion. Also three members of the ODAC champion Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets played on the Bulldog baseball team.
Verlander may continue to wear the navy and white of the Detroit Tigers. But whether he realizes it or not, he wears the scarlet and gold of the Goochland Bulldogs every time he pitches as well.