Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fordham Flips for Baseball

My thanks to my friend Ben Hauck for bring this to my attention.

Back when I was a graduate student, I used to enjoy talking baseball with my mentor, Neil Postman, and he remarked on more than one occasion that no matter how much you watch the game, you can always see something new.  Well, he certainly would have repeated that comment were he still around, and I know he would have loved this play, which has made its way around the internet and TV sports shows and local news programs:

Over on youtube, this April 21st video is called Fordham Baseball Player Goes Airborn, and the description reads

It's not often that one play would overshadow an incredible team effort comeback from a 9-1 deficit, but Fordham's Brian Kownacki tried. His leap over Iona catcher James Beck to score on Chris Walker's go-ahead hit in the bottom of the eighth inning highlighted a nine-run rally to give Fordham a 12-9 victory over the Iona College Gaels at Houlihan Park.

The play is narrated by WFUV's Gregg Caserta.

What can I say, but, Go Rams!

And while Fordham is not a baseball powerhouse these days, did you know that we hold the record for most games won by a college team?  You don't have to take my word for it, it was reported in the New York Times last year, in a story by Jack Curry dated April 9, 2009, entitled For 150 Years, Fordham Baseball’s Tradition of Winning.  Here's how it goes:

The team with the most victories in college baseball history practiced energetically Thursday. Players ran from behind the batting cage to the plate to take their swings, outfielders dashed after fly balls and infielders vacuumed up grounders. The practice had a nice rhythm.

This scene did not occur in California, Florida or Texas, places where college baseball is in the spotlight. It occurred on a cool afternoon in the Bronx, six subway stops away from Yankee Stadium. It happened at Fordham University, the humble home of the team that surprisingly has the most wins of any N.C.A.A. Division I baseball program. 

And it is not close. Fordham has 4,010 wins; Texas is second with 3,117. Of course, Fordham had a huge head start since it began playing baseball 150 years ago, which was 36 seasons before Texas did and more than half a century before many other teams. Still, Fordham proudly relishes having more victories than elite programs like Stanford and Miami.

A bit further into the article, they get into some of the famous baseball players who came from Fordham:

The roll call starts with Frankie Frisch, the Fordham Flash, who held the program’s single-season stolen base record for 67 years, played 19 seasons in the major leagues and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
No one can outdo Frisch’s alliterative nickname, but Jack Coffey, who played and coached at Fordham, has his own neat distinction as the only player to be a teammate of Babe Ruth’s and Ty Cobb’s in the same season. Then there is Gil McDougald, a former Yankees All-Star who coached at Fordham; Esteban Bellan, who was the first Cuban and the first Latin American to play professional baseball; and Vin Scully, an outfielder who wound up doing more with his silky voice than with his arm or legs.

In an interview on Fordham’s Web site, Scully recalled how he hit one home run in his “inglorious career.” Scully said he swung left-handed and was quick to explain that “I didn’t say I hit left-handed.” In a game against Yale, Scully competed against George H.W. Bush. When Scully played golf with the former President Bush decades later, he reminded him that they each went 0 for 3. 

“I loved every minute of it,” Scully said in the interview. “I loved my teammates. We had so much fun, and it was definitely a good portion of my memory bank in those wonderful years on the Fordham campus.”

And a bit further on in this article from last year, there's some interesting bits of trivia:

Fordham is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its initial game, but this is the university’s 149th season. Play was suspended for World War II in 1944. In the first 148 seasons, Fordham had 19 losing records. There have been 56 players from Fordham to appear in the majors, but only four in the last 45 years.

And again, a little further on:

When St. John’s College, Fordham’s original name, opposed St. Francis Xavier College a few months later, they played the first college game featuring nine-man teams. The Rose Hills, as Fordham was known, won, 33-11.

And if this leaves you wanting more, check out the multimedia files on our own website:  150 Years of Fordham Baseball.   And as for Brian Kownacki, sign that kid up!  For the Mets, if you please!

1 comment:

Abby said...

I posted about this, as well! Such a funny play--I watched it multiple times!