East Carolina's mascot is the Pirates. We're the Red Raiders, but our link to Mike Leach will forever lionize us as pirates in our own right. Let's dust off the old history book and compare some of the players and coaches in Lubbock's Super Regional to actual pirates.
Note: I am by no means a historian. This is purely for fun. However, I did strive to be as accurate as possible and cite my sources.
Tim Tadlock - Thomas Tew
Tim Tadlock and Thomas Tew have several huge things in common. Tadlock played shortstop at Texas Tech in his college days, and returned to coach the Red Raiders in 2013. Tew embarked on two major pirate cruises, the second of which was his return to piracy after striking it rich on his first voyage. Let's hope Tadlock's second venture at Texas Tech doesn't end as violently as Thomas Tew's second voyage, as Tew was violently killed by a cannon ball to the chest while attacking a Mughal convoy.
Much of Tew's life is shrouded in mystery, as most pirates/privateers didn't keep many records. It's arguable that Tew had a wife and two children, same as Tadlock (except Tadlock's wife and two children aren't arguable, they definitely exist).
It's actually arguable that Tew didn't deserve his reputation as a true pirate, because his voyages were privateering missions commissioned by the governor of Bermuda. Tadlock caught some flack from TCU after the hilariously dubbed "Watergate" "scandal" in which his players got water and dirt on the TCU showgirls, which led to some criticizing Tadlock over the control of his players in the dugout.
Tew was the pioneer of what became known as the "Pirate Round", a voyaging route that became used by pirates until the 1720's. Tadlock has brought glory back to the Red Raiders, and I definitely hope that if we do have to make a coaching change at some point, people would follow in his footsteps. 1
Cliff Godwin - Stede Bonnet
Stede Bonnet was born wealthy, and was therefore nicknamed "The Gentleman Pirate". As far as pirates go, he was relatively gentlemanly to people he met. This is the basis for his comparison with Cliff Godwin, a man who has established a culture of academic success and community outreach in the East Carolina baseball team. ECU's Pirates have logged over 600 hours of community service, and have had double digit Academic All-Americans in Godwin's two years at the helm of East Carolina.
History mostly remembers Stede Bonnet for his nautical ineptitude, which led to the vast majority of his crew leaving for Edward Teach's authority upon arrival in Nassau. However, Stede Bonnet was a very successful pirate in his own right. Bonnet plundered double digit ships, and survived an encounter with a Spanish Man-O-War despite only having one sloop under his command. For reference, this is a sloop. This is a Man-O-War. The size difference and number of cannons should have meant that Bonnet was sunk. However, he survived against insurmountable odds.
East Carolina hasn't been to a Super Regional since 2009, and beat defending National Champion Virginia to get there. While these aren't insurmountable odds, you could definitely argue that the deck wasn't stacked in ECU's favor. Despite losing his crew to Edward Teach, and being gravely wounded in his Man-O-War encounter, Bonnet persevered on, winning more ships and loot along the way. 2
Eric Gutierrez - Bartholomew Roberts
Eric Gutierrez might end up as the most successful Red Raider in history. He's started in every single game of his four-year career, was a Freshman All-American, is 3rd in Big XII all-time fielding percentage (.994), and is the leader among active Big XII players in hits, runs scored, RBIs, doubles, and home runs. No matter how this season ends up, Gutierrez is one of the all-time Red Raider greats.
It would only make sense to compare one all-time great to another. Bartholomew Roberts, born John Roberts, was easily the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy. Roberts captured approximately 470 (!) vessels during his three years at the helm of various vessels in the early 1720s. His black flag featured him holding an hourglass with "death", and is easily my favorite of all the personalized pirate flags of the Golden Age of Piracy.
Eric Gutierrez has a little nickname. Shouts of "GUUUUUUUUUUUTE" ring out in Dan Law field every time he makes a great play. It only makes sense to compare him to Bartholomew Roberts, also known as "Black Bart". 3
The Barbarossa Brothers - Travis Watkins, Garrett Brooks, Eric Tyler, and Dwanaya Williams-Sutton
The Barbarossa Brothers started out in legitimate business during the height of the Ottoman Empire, and two of them turned to privateering under Suleiman the Magnificent following an attack by the Knights of St. John. Ilyas, who followed Oruc into the privateering life, was killed by the Knights of St. John, and Oruc was captured. The two other brothers, Ishak and Khizr, concocted a plan to break Oruc out of the Knight's captivity.
The brothers quickly took the fight to the Knights, but along the way lost Oruc (renamed Barbarossa) and Ishak in a battle with Spain. Their exploits took them to many places and they fought many enemies. Khzir took Oruc's "Barbarossa" title, was later renamed Hayreddin Barbarossa, and was easily the most historically famous of the brothers. Hayreddin terrorized the Mediterranean for decades, eventually aligning with the Ottoman empire as his brother Oruc had done before his death. Hayreddin is one of the only pirates to officially retire and die a peaceful death.
In their early careers, the brothers were pseudo-interchangable, as we can see with the taking on of names after individual deaths. The four best players from ECU compare greatly to the Barbarossa Brothers, as all of them have the ability to step up to the proverbial plate and make big plays for ECU when needed. Seriously, look at how close their stats are to each other, specifically Travis Watkins and Garrett Brooks.
The Barbarossa Brothers were a force in the Mediterranean for years. Only one of ECU's statistically best players is a Senior. ECU will have a lot of firepower returning as they make their 2016-2017 campaign.
Stephen Smith - Edward Teach
Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, is mostly responsible for the cult of personality that surrounds the public's common view of piracy. No one knows exactly where Edward Teach was born, although it's surmised that he was born somewhere in England. He began his career as an understudy of Benjamin Hornigold, and quickly became a fearsom pirate in his own right.
Despite his reputation as a butcher, Teach never ruled by force, and there are no records of him harming or killing anyone he captured. Teach ruled through fear, and his image as "Blackbeard" was one that was carefully cultivated. When boarding ships, Teach was known to tie lit fuses into his beard to intimidate both captain and crew.
Teach was far from all bark and no bite. His 1718 blockade of Charleston was something rarely attempted by pirates, who typically employed more hit-and-run style tactics due to the size of their vessels compared to those used by official navies. He eluded the grasp of Woodes Rogers, who set sail with several Men-O-War in order to capture pirates.
Eventually, his violent life caught up to him in the form of Lieutenant Robert Maynard. One of Teach's last recorded interactions was with Maynard, and he was reported to have said,
Damnation seize my Soul if I give you Quarters, or take any from you.
which is one of my favorite quotes of all time.
Stephen Smith is a man who has benefitted from image as well, specifically his "bull" celebration. Smith isn't just a celebrator, his image is backed up with his incredible .542 slugging percentage. While historically Smith/Teach isn't as dominant as Gutierrez/Roberts, Stephen Smith is undeniably important in terms of what he brings to the Texas Tech baseball team. The same goes for Edward Teach, whose image is the one that most people think of when they think "pirate". 4
Davis Martin - John King
Davis Martin is one of the youngest members of Texas Tech's roster. He's only a freshman, but he has a perfect 9-0 record and a .231 ERA. He was recently awarded the honor of Freshman All-American for his efforts this season. He's young, but it's arguable that he's Texas Tech's best pitcher.
John King is the youngest pirate ever recorded. It was common for navies to employ teenagers to run powder from the armory to cannons, and teenage pirates were not out of the ordinary, John King was anywhere from 8-11 years old. He never grew old enough to captain his own ship, as the Whydah, under the command of Sam Bellamy, was wrecked off the coast of Cape Cod in 1717, killing King.
King was known for his insistence and fearlessness, a trait he shares with Martin. Davis Martin routinely squares off against some of the nation's best teams, and proves that he belongs in the national conversation with his stellar play. Sam Bellamy was a very famous pirate in his own right, and if he kept King around, he must have been good for something. 5