Gamecocks honor Tanner's way

USC athletics director Ray Tanner, surrounded by his family, is honored before Friday's season opener at Carolina Stadium.

COLUMBIA (WACH) - It comes as no surprise to the Gamecock community that the first retired University of South Carolina baseball jersey belongs to No. 1 Ray Tanner.

The former head coach and current athletic director received the honor before the first pitch at Opening Day in Carolina Stadium on Friday. It was also announced that Williams Street, on which Carolina Stadium sits, has been renamed Tanner Way.

The Gamecocks opened the season Friday afternoon against Liberty with a full house.

New USC coach Chad Holbrook said earlier in the week that the day would be emotional and his prediction held true, even when it came to Tanner.

"What happened here today was overwhelming to be quite honest with you. I am very grateful, honored and humbled to be in this position to still be at the university," said Tanner. "I hope I can do a lot more in the capacity that I'm in now. It has been a wonderful journey and I am excited about what went on here today. I can't find the words to describe how wonderful the opening ceremonies were and again how honored and humbled I am."

Many have suggested Carolina Stadium be re-named "The Ray" in honor of Tanner's contributions to the program. However, on Friday, Tanner said he is not "deserving" of such an honor, pointing to a multitude of people who helped him win two national titles.

Tanner coached the Gamecocks from 1996 until 2012 when he took on the role of leading the athletics department. He won two national titles and played for a third before falling to Arizona in the College World Series last June.

South Carolina set a record this year for season ticket sales with 5,835 sold.