Wednesday was Justus Sheffield Day in Tullahoma, Tenn.
But that wasn’t the biggest surprise for the Tullahoma High senior, as Sheffield was named the 2013-14 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year. Former Boston Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon presented Sheffield with the trophy in the middle of what was supposedly an interview with the MLB Network.
“That surprise was the greatest feeling in my whole entire life,” said Sheffield, 18, a Vanderbilt signee. “This is the greatest accomplishment in my career. It’s just amazing.”
Sheffield, a left-handed pitcher, compiled a 10-0 record with a 0.34 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 61.2 innings this past season, leading the Wildcats to the sectional round of the Tennessee Class AAA state tournament. Sheffield also played center field and was strong at the plate. He hit .405 with an on-base percentage of .478.
“To give Justus this award on behalf of a global icon is a tremendous honor,” said Nixon, the 1993 Gatorade North Carolina Player of the Year in both baseball and football. “It’s going to be exciting to watch his career.”
Sheffield has maintained an A average, and has donated his time locally as a student teacher at Bel-Aire Elementary School in addition to volunteering as a youth baseball instructor.
Sheffield becomes the first prep athlete from Tennessee to win national Gatorade honors in any sport.
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Sheffield is now a finalist for the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.