Frank Talotta will have a new answer for a question he has been asked many times over the past 25 years or so.
Talotta was a large part of the early establishment of the Coastal Carolina baseball program on the national scene in the early 1980s, as he helped the Chanticleers reach the NAIA College World Series in three of his four years before being drafted in the 1983 Major League Baseball draft.
“Over the years people would ask me if I was in the hall of fame, and I would always say no, of course,” Talotta said. “The committee must have looked at the numbers and determined I deserved to be in there.
“I can die tomorrow and have my place at Coastal, which is important to me.”
I can die tomorrow and have my place at Coastal, which is important to me.
Talotta, 56, who has remained in the Myrtle Beach area since earning a business degree from CCU in 1984, is among the five former CCU student-athletes who comprise the school’s George F. “Buddy” Sasser Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
He is joined by Josh Norman (football 2008-11), Anthony Meo (baseball 2009-11), David Anderson (baseball 2007-09) and Marie Matrka (women’s tennis 2001-05).
The induction ceremony is planned for Nov. 11 and inductees will be recognized that day during a home football game against Troy.
The Sasser athletics hall of fame is housed in the Adkins Fieldhouse at Brooks Stadium. The first class was inducted in 1991.
Talotta, has owned the office furniture business Talotta Contract Interiors on S.C. 544 in the Socastee area for the past 34 years, is the third player from the early 1980s baseball team that was coached by Larry Carr to be selected to the hall, joining Mickey Brantley and Mark Clemons. All three were selected within the first 20 rounds of the MLB draft.
Talotta said seven of his CCU teammates were drafted.
Talotta, originally from Pittsburgh, ranks fourth in CCU history with a .390 career batting average and sixth in triples. In 107 games he recorded 24 home runs, 118 RBI and 53 stolen bases.
In his senior season in 1983 he led CCU in at-bats (210) and RBI (68) while hitting .395 with 83 hits, 14 homers and 67 runs scored.
He was voted to the 1982 NAIA World Series All-Tournament Team after batting .417 in the tournament., and was drafted in the 20th round (503rd overall) by the Houston Astros. He batted .240 with Auburn Astros in single-A short season and was among the Astros final cuts in spring training in 1984.
Talotta was the first player from CCU to be selected to play in the prestigious summer Cape Cod League, and he lived with the family of Carl Yastrzemski.
Talotta was a teammate of current CCU coach Gary Gilmore in 1980, and like many former Chants baseball players, Talotta attended the College World Series last year when Coastal won the NCAA Division I national championship.
“I’m elated about the whole thing,” Talotta said. “I’m humbled and honored and surprised but I think I deserve it. I’m just proud to be associated with it all.”
Norman, from Greenwood, was named First Team All-American by the AFCA, Associated Press, Phil Steele, The Sports Network, College Sporting News and College Sports Journal as a senior in 2011, and Third Team by the Associated Press as a sophomore in 2009.
He was a finalist as a senior for the Buck Buchanan Award, given annually to the most outstanding defensive player in Division I FCS, and was a three-time First Team All-Big South honoree.
Norman set Coastal Carolina and Big South records with 48 career passes defended, which also ranked sixth in NCAA FCS history. He’s among Coastal’s career leaders in blocked kicks (tied for first), interceptions (2nd) forced fumbles (T4th) and tackles (fifth), and is the first football alumnus to have his jersey number honored with a place on the wall at Brooks Stadium.
Norman was drafted in the fifth round (143rd overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, and in 2015 he was named to the Pro Bowl and helped the team reach Super Bowl 50 before signing with the Washington Redskins.
Meo, of Cranston, R.I., is among Coastal’s most decorated baseball players and was drafted in the second round (63rd overall) of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Only former Chants Brantley and Kirt Manwaring were drafted higher – both 35th.
He ranks in the top 10 of Coastal’s career leaders in ERA (3rd), wins (5th), strikeouts (6th), games started (9th) and innings pitched (10th), and tied a CCU single-season record with 13 wins as a sophomore in 2010.
In 2010, he was a finalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, Golden Spikes Award and College Baseball Foundation Pitcher of the Year; was named an All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), Collegiate Baseball, Ping! Baseball and American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA); was voted the NCBWA District IV Player of the Year; and was named the Big South Conference Pitcher of the Year.
He was named a Freshman All-American in 2009 by Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball, Ping! Baseball and the NCBWA, and was a three-time First Team All-Big South selection.
Meo played a couple years in the Diamondbacks organization, reaching double-A, but a shoulder injury contributed to him being released. He’s currently coaching youth travel and high school baseball in Waltham, Mass.
“When I heard the news it was one of the better feelings I’ve had in a while,” Meo said. “At that school with all the great athletes that came from that school it’s good to hear your name join the hall of fame. I’m super excited about it and very honored.”
Meo said he’s especially happy to be going into the hall with Anderson, who was a teammate for a year. “David was a senior when I was a freshman and was one of those guys to take me in under his leadership as a senior and make things comfortable for me as a college freshman,” Meo said. “To go in with him is really cool.”
David was a senior when I was a freshman and was one of those guys to take me in under his leadership as a senior and make things comfortable for me as a college freshman. To go in with him is really cool.
Anthony Meo on David Anderson
Anderson, of Lexington, was a position player and pitcher who owns the CCU all-time record with 50 home runs and led the Big South in home runs in both 2008 (20) and 2009 (21).
He set the CCU single-season mark with 82 RBI, which ranked seventh in the NCAA in 2009, and currently ranks third on the CCU all-time RBI list with 184. He also ranks third in career total bases (438), third in career slugging percentage (.624) and sixth in career saves (12).
He recorded 10 saves in 2007, led the Chants with a .377 batting average in 2009 and had a .343 career batting average.
He was named a Third Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, NCBWA, CollegeBaseballInsider.com and Ping! Baseball, was named Big South Player of the Year in 2009, earned a total of four All-Big South honors (2007, First Team as a relief pitcher and Second Team as a DH; 2008, Second Team at first base; 2009 First Team at first base), and was voted the NCAA Conway Regional co-MVP and the 2009 Big South Tournament MVP.
Matrka, of Wilmington, Ohio, was the 2005 Big South Women’s Tennis Player of the Year, a three-time All-Big South selection in singles and four-time All-Big South honoree in doubles.
She ranks third on the Coastal Carolina all-time singles wins list with 91 and is tied for second for all-time doubles wins with 92.
She earned Third Team CoSIDA Academic All-America in 2004, was a four-time ITA All-Academic Team member, and was the 2004 and 2005 Big South Women’s Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year.