When the Texas Rangers selected University of Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford with the fourth pick in the 2023 Major League Baseball draft Sunday evening, knowledgeable baseball fans around the country were not surprised.
Langford, while a high school player at Trenton High School in Florida (a school with an enrollment of approximately 600 students) helped lead his team to a state title as a freshman.
A multi-sport athlete, Langford was also a member of an undefeated state championship football team during his high school career. In the state of Florida, middle school athletes who are good enough can play at the varsity level. Langford, who also played basketball, was a six-year starter in baseball and football.
After high school, Langford joined the University of Florida Gators baseball team. After only making four plate appearances during his freshman season, Langford has made a meteoric rise to become one of the nation’s best players. Langford put up impressive stats last year as a junior for the Gators: batting .373, compiling a slugging percentage of .784, scoring 83 runs, driving in 57 runs, and hitting 26 home runs.
The Gators made it to the College World Series Championship games before falling in a three-game series to LSU.
Wyatt Langford has deep roots in Hagerstown, Indiana. He also has strong athletic bloodlines here.
Langford is the grandson of the late Aubrey “Bud” and Lois House, a kind and hardworking couple who raised four children who are all Hagerstown High School graduates.
Bud was an accomplished amateur boxer, winning several Golden Gloves Championships and was the All-Marine Heavyweight champion during his military service.
Terry (House) Gray is a 1975 HHS grad, Barbara (House) Gray is a 1978 grad and Maria (House) Langford graduated in 1980. The girls were competitors. At one time Terry held the HHS shot put record until Maria broke it. Their youngest child, Mark, is a 1986 Hagerstown grad. Mark helped lead the Tigers to a final four appearance in football in 1985 and was an all-state player. Mark also qualified for the state finals in wrestling twice, finishing 6th in the heavyweight class as a senior. Inducted into the Nettle Creek Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013, Mark, now retired USMC officer, also wrestled for four years at the United States Naval Academy.
All four siblings (Mark, Terry, Barbara, and Maria) traveled to Omaha to watch Wyatt in the College World Series in June. Wyatt delivered. He hit the two longest home runs in College World Series history at Charles Schwab Field. One traveled 456 feet, the other traveled 449 feet.
Wyatt’s great aunts Fredette Cash (Hagerstown) and Caralou Poore (New Castle) were also able to attend a game this season.
Wyatt had other multiple home run games this season. Most notable may have been against Vanderbilt on Mother’s Day. An interesting story came of those home run balls. Wyatt traded a signed batting glove after the game to the fan who retrieved one of the home run balls so he could present it to Maria for Mother’s Day.
Maria Langford said the draft experience as a mother is surreal. “I am just trying to absorb this experience,” Maria said. “Wyatt has worked hard to get to this position and of course we are excited. It is wonderful to see Wyatt living his dream.”
Langford opted not to go to Seattle for the draft ceremony; instead, he planned a small draft party for friends and family at the home of his fiancé’s parents. He was notified of his draft position by video call.
Maria said she is not concerned about Wyatt’s ability to handle his newfound fame and fortune. “Wyatt is an intelligent young man who has been raised in a frugal lifestyle,” Maria said. “He is well grounded, with strong morals, and he is represented by people who have his best interest at heart.”
When the name Wyatt Langford was called Sunday evening, he knew that he had many friends and relatives from the Wayne County area rooting for him. What he didn’t know was that there were many other Wayne County residents he has never met who were happy for his success.
A version of this article appeared in the July 12 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.