Rutgers baseball officially retired Glen “Beef” Gardner’s No. 49 in a ceremony Sunday at Bainton Field. Gardner is just the third person in program history to have his number retired. He joins Jeff Torborg’s No. 10 and Fred Hill’s No. 24 on the right field wall.
Rutgers Royalty— Rutgers Baseball (@RutgersBaseball) October 11, 2021
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“Today was very humbling,” Gardner said. “For a program that’s been around since 1870, there’s just three numbers on the wall. There’s been many great players and coaches here over the years. For me, it was outstanding to see so many people I haven’t seen in a very long time. That’s the best part of today.”
Gardner was one of the first recruits to join the program under Hill, the legendary coach of Rutgers for 30 years. He went on to be a ABCA/Baseball America Freshman All-American hitting .398/.470/.580 with six home runs, 45 RBIs and 102 total bases in his first collegiate season.
The outfielder followed that up with a sophomore campaign in which he hit .368 with eight homers, 22 doubles, had a .658 slugging percentage and 45 RBIs in 1987. He earned Collegiate Baseball All-America Third Team honors. After being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 13th round of the 1987 MLB Draft, Gardner decided to return his junior season.
He slugged a career best nine homers his junior season earning All-Atlantic 10 honors for the third time. Gardner finished his Rutgers career with a .356 batting average, 23 homers, 141 RBIs, 336 career total bases and a .595 slugging percentage.
Gardner was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 59th round of the 1988 MLB draft. He played pro ball until 1990 when he was struck in the eye by a batted ball, ending his career. That marked the beginning of his coaching career, sitting beside Hill in the dugout bench for the 1991 season. He was Hill’s trusted lieutenant managing the daily aspects of the program, along with recruiting and as hitting and outfielders coach. He was a players coach who garnered respect from all he crossed paths with at Rutgers. After 18 years as a coach, Gardner held roles as director of baseball operations and senior advisor to the head coach.
Rutgers produced 870 wins, made eight NCAA Regional appearances, won seven regular season conference championships and five conference tournament titles with Gardner on staff. He mentored star players Jeff Frazier, Todd Frazier and Darren Fenster among others.
When Gardner retired from his coaching career after 29 seasons on the banks in 2019, he said “I never thought I would be a coach. When coach Hill asked me to help out, I was around finishing school and had some extra time to be around the team. Little by little, I started figuring it out. I always enjoyed working with hitters and helping them be the best they could be. I’ll always be grateful to coach Hill for giving me the chance.”