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For the past 15-plus years, the annual start to the college baseball season in Lubbock hasn't been a game, but rather a luncheon.  The National College Baseball Hall of Fame's First Pitch Luncheon has been the event to attend to break out of the winter doldrums.

Normally, the luncheon features season previews from the Texas Tech and Lubbock Christian University head coaches, an appearance from someone connected to the Texas Rangers, and a speaker, or two, that's someone of prominence within the college baseball community.

However, due to COVID-19, this year's luncheon was scaled down and moved to a virtual format.  Mike Gustafson, the President and CEO of the College Baseball Foundation, served as the online emcee for the virtual First Pitch Luncheon.

Gustafson's first order of business for the virtual luncheon was to present the Kal Segrist Award. The award is presented annually as part of the luncheon.

This year's Kal Segrist Award was presented to Kelly Robinson. Robinson has had a long history of being involved in sports in Lubbock. From being a Little League parent, working as a sports information director with both Texas Tech and LCU, refereeing games in multiple sports at the high school level, and contributing to local sports radio shows; Robinson has been a part of it all.

However, Robinson's biggest contribution to the game of baseball in Lubbock, and West Texas, has been the creation of a Fall Ball program for the past 24 years that has allowed youth baseball to continue for numerous teams in the area.

This year's First Pitch Luncheon was sponsored by Lubbock Sports, Fuddruckers, The Griffin Companies, Benchmark, The Owen Group, and Bolinger, Segars, Gilbert & Moss.

The First Pitch Luncheon video also includes interviews with LCU Baseball head coach Nathan Blackwood (at the 6:40 mark of the video) and Texas Tech Baseball head coach Tim Tadlock (at the 16:10 mark of the video). Emily Jones, from Bally Sports Southwest (the former FOX Sports Southwest cable network), interviewed Texas Rangers infielder Josh Jung at the 31:50 mark of the video.

Texas Sports Marketing released the following statement about Kelly Robinson being presented the Kal Segrist Award:

LUBBOCK, TX (FEBRUARY 3, 2021) – The recipient of the 2021 Kal Segrist Lifetime Achievement Award is longtime youth baseball coach, official and administrator, Kelly Robinson.

Robinson has been involved in youth sports in the Lubbock and South Plains area for over 40 years.

Through the years he has coached a variety of youth sports, including baseball, softball, basketball and football. He coached Little League in Lubbock as well as South Plains Girls Fastpitch.

Perhaps the proudest accomplishment of his youth sports coaching career was being able to coach his three children: Kamdon, Karson and Kalee. Along with his wife Shelly, the entire Robinson family made many happy memories at ballparks across the Lubbock area as well as throughout Texas and Eastern New Mexico.

One of the better-known areas of involvement in youth baseball for Robinson is his affiliation with the Showcase Fall Ball League. The popularity of the league has continued to grow through the years with a record 63 teams entered in 2019. The league boasts an array of talented former players, including MLB products Brett Anderson, Chad Bettis and Tyler Lyons, along with many that have gone on to play college and professional baseball.

Robinson also has coached on the high school level in both baseball and softball. He was on the coaching staff at Lubbock Christian High School for 12 years and served as assistant baseball coach under 2017 Kal Segrist Award winner Tim Leslie and helped lead the Eagles to the TAPPS Class 4A State Championship in 2007. He then spent five seasons as the LCHS head softball coach, leading the Lady Eagles to four district titles, five regional finals appearances and one state tournament berth.

Robinson has 44 years of officiating experience in high school and small college football and basketball. In 2018 the Texas Tech Chapter of the National Football Foundation named Robinson the “Outstanding Official” at its annual Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet.

Currently a member of the Texas Sports Marketing staff, Robinson has worked for over 40 years promoting athletics in the Lubbock area. He spent nearly 20 of those years on the Sports Information staff at Texas Tech University, serving as an Assistant SID for the Red Raiders from 1978-1996. Robinson was fortunate to work closely with Red Raider baseball coach, Kal Segrist.

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