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How John Currie, Tennessee baseball hired Tony Vitello in 36-hour blur

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Tony Vitello was so heartbroken he could physically feel it.

Missouri State had walked into Arkansas ‘Baum Stadium and ended the Razorbacks’ season on June 5, 2017, weeks before Vitello ever imagined. The distraught Arkansas hitting coach headed to a taco place in Fayetteville, ordered three times more than normal and went home after the jarring NCAA Regional loss.

He watched a movie and then another. “Tombstone” started after midnight, and Vitello couldn’t resist.

“Oh hell, I have to at least watch a little bit of this,” Vitello thought.

As Vitello spurned sleep in favor of the 1993 western, his phone rang around 1:30 am It was Tennessee athletics director John Currie.

“I was upset still but my mind was racing,” Vitello said.

That fateful phone call launched Vitello into a 36-hour blur. It united him with Tennessee baseball and put him on a path to coaching superstardom, setting the stage five years later for him to lead the Juggernaut Vols in their pursuit of College World Series glory this season and a stake as one of the greatest teams of all time.

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