Ned Darley, Glenn Murray and Fred Gamble were each interested Friday as the first day of the Major League Baseball draft got underway.
All three former Manning High School baseball players remember the day 27 years ago when they were "caught up in the draft."
"No one knows the amount of sacrifices you and the coaches make behind the scene to make us better ballplayers, as well as better men," said Darley, a standout pitcher for the Monarchs and the Manning-Santee Legion team in the 1980s who pitched professionally in the United States and around the world from 1990-2008.
A right-hander, Darley was the 11th-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays on June 10, 1989, and he signed with the organization in 1990 after one year at Spartanburg Methodist College.
"The day that I graduated, I was also told that me and two of my lifelong friends and brothers were rewarded for their efforts by being drafted!" Darley said. "It felt like the whole Monarch team and family were drafted, too. It was a privilege to be drafted, but the real privilege was playing with Freddie Gamble, Donald Frierson, Jud Heldreth, Tracey Gamble, Rome McNeil, Anthony Briggs, Kevin Baxter, Andy Johnson and Thomas Burgess, and the best of us was Glenn Murray."
Murray played football, basketball and baseball for the Monarchs, and he said in a file story that football was his true love. Baseball came calling in 1989, however, when Murray was a second-round pick of the Montreal Expos straight from high school.
"It changed my life," Murray said in a file story during his induction into the Clarendon Athletic Hall of Fame several years ago. "I talked with my parents. When I had to make the decision, we knew that baseball was the best choice. I had signed to play football at South Carolina State University. But the chances of getting hurt in football were pretty high compared to baseball."
Murray was a catcher, third baseman and shortstop for both the Monarchs and the American Legion team. He moved to the outfield after being drafted, and was traded to the Boston organization in 1993. Traded to the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 1996 season, Murray made his major league debut later that season, starting in right field.
He had 97 at bats and batted .196 with two home runs and six runs batted in before injuring his right wrist. He needed surgery.
"It was about an hour after surgery that we knew the consequences of it: I tore all the ligaments in the wrist," Murray said. Doctors put four screws in the wrist, and he had a 50-50 chance of playing again.
Murray ultimately did play again, spending two years in the minor leagues before signing with an independent league team in Nashua, New Hampshire, in the late 1990s. He retired in 2006 after a short AA stint with St. Louis and two stints with the Mexican League.
Murray hit 336 home runs in his professional career and is the Atlantic League all-time home run leader with 163.
The third Monarch to be drafted June 10, 1989, was Fred Gamble.
"Twenty-seven years ago, I was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 32nd round," he said. "I played a couple of years with the Tigers, got released and then I played a couple more years with the Florida Marlins."
After that, Gamble came back to his alma mater to coach and work with the Department of Social Services.
"I'm now employed at Century Aluminum in Goose Creek," Gamble said.
Gamble was actually in the middle of a Legion game when he was told he had been drafted.
"I was on deck and ready to bat next, and a brother came to the on-deck circle and said, 'Hey, he was just drafted by the Detroit Tigers,'" Gamble said. "I don't remember even what happened next, it was so exciting."