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11 Ivy League-Educated Major League Baseball Players

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Baseball has often been described as the thinking man's game. Yogi Berra once said that America's national pastime was 90 percent mental, and the other half physical. If any player could make sense of such a statement, it's one of these guys.

C "“ Moe Berg

Moe Berg, who graduated magna cum laude from Princeton and earned a law degree from Columbia, was a light-hitting international man of mystery. Someone once observed that Berg "“ a lifetime .243 hitter "“ could speak 10 languages, but couldn't hit in any of them. The journeyman catcher, who hit six home runs in his 15-year career, inspired the phrase "good field, no hit" and a book by Nicholas Dawidoff. In The Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg, Dawidoff chronicled Berg's life as a ballplayer, lawyer, and spy. Berg accepted a position with the Office of Inter-American Affairs after retiring from baseball and screened footage he had taken of the Tokyo skyline during a 1934 visit to Japan with a group of All-Stars for U.S. intelligence officers. After joining the Office of Strategic Services in 1943, Berg was sent to Germany to attend a lecture by physicist Werner Heisenberg. Berg was given instructions to assassinate Heisenberg if he provided any indication that the Germans were close to developing an atomic bomb, but they apparently weren't. Berg, who died in 1972, was offered an advance to write an autobiography but turned it down because his editor mistook him for Moe Howard from the Three Stooges.

1B "“ Lou Gehrig

gehrig.jpgOn the same day that Yankee Stadium opened in 1923, Columbia pitcher Lou Gehrig struck out a school-record 17 Williams batters in front of a crowd at South Field that included New York Yankees scout Paul Krichell. While Gehrig was a dominating pitcher "“ he held the Columbia career strikeout record until 1978 "“ Krichell coveted the lefthander's power at the plate even more and signed him to a pro contract a few months later. Gehrig never pitched for the Yankees, but he enjoyed a remarkable career as the Bronx Bombers' first baseman. In 1939, Gehrig's 2,130 consecutive games played streak was cut short when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal disease now more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Two years later, ALS took Gehrig's life. The "Iron Horse" was a two-time MVP, won the Triple Crown in 1934, and finished his career with a .340 lifetime average.

2B "“ Eddie Collins

collins.jpgCollins, who played quarterback at Columbia in addition to starring on the baseball field, was one of the greatest second basemen to ever play the game. Following his junior year at Columbia, the 5-foot-9 New York native joined a semi-pro summer league. In hopes of maintaining his final year of college eligibility, Collins played under the pseudonym "Eddie Sullivan." The Philadelphia Athletics signed him to a contract, however, and after Collins appeared in six pro games, he was declared ineligible for his senior season. Rather than leaving Columbia, Collins remained at the school to finish his degree while serving as an undergraduate coach. The wait was worth it. Collins eventually helped the Athletics to World Series championships in 1910, 1911 and 1913 before being traded to the White Sox in 1915. After his playing days were over, he was general manager of the Boston Red Sox from 1933-1947 and elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939. Collins remains the only major leaguer to play at least 12 seasons for two different teams. Author Jack Cavanaugh once said of Collins, "They called Collins "˜Cocky,' not because he was arrogant, but because he was filled with confidence based on sheer ability."

SS "“ Bill Almon

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Almon became the first Ivy League athlete to be selected first overall in a professional draft when the San Diego Padres selected him with the No. 1 pick in 1974. Almon was coming off a record-breaking career at Brown and had been named the Player of the Year by The Sporting News after hitting .350 with 10 home runs, 31 RBI, and 20 stolen bases. While he never quite lived up to the hype in the majors, Almon was a serviceable utility player who played for seven different teams over his 15-year career. His best year came in the strike-shortened 1981 season, when he hit .301 for the White Sox.

3B "“ Red Rolfe

rolfe.jpgRolfe graduated from Dartmouth in 1931 before joining Gehrig in the New York Yankees' well-educated and hard-hitting infield. While Rolfe wasn't known for his power, he possessed good speed and finished his 10-year career with a .289 average. Rolfe retired in 1942 and coached baseball and basketball at Yale for four years before becoming the Detroit Tigers' farm system director. In 1949, Rolfe was named Tigers manager. Detroit won 95 games and finished three games behind the Yankees in Rolfe's second season at the helm, but that was the pinnacle of his managerial career. Rolfe was fired in the middle of the 1952 season and returned to Dartmouth as the school's athletic director from 1954-1967. The Big Green's baseball field is named in honor of Rolfe, who died in 1969.

OF "“ Doug Glanville

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Glanville hit .414 with six home runs and 15 stolen bases in his final year at Penn before the Chicago Cubs made him the 12th overall pick in the 1991 draft. Glanville played for three teams in his major league career before retiring in 2005, finishing with 1100 hits and 168 stolen bases. A quality defensive outfielder, Glanville's most productive season at the plate came in 1999, when he hit .325 and finished second in the National League with 204 hits for the Philadelphia Phillies. Glanville writes a semi-regular guest column for the New York Times about his life in the majors and general baseball issues, and is president of GK Alliance, which provides intellectual capital for startup companies.

OF "“ Fernando Perez

perez.jpgPerez, who studied creative writing and American studies at Columbia, was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the seventh round of the 2004 draft. One of the fastest players in baseball, Perez made his major league debut on August 31, 2008, and singled in his first at bat. Less than two weeks later, he hit his first major league home run in front of friends and family at Yankee Stadium. Perez showcased his speed in the postseason; he scored the winning run as a pinch runner in Game 2 of the ALCS against Boston after tagging up on a shallow fly ball. Perez kept a journal for MiLB.com during the 2007 season and continues to write short prose and personal essays in his spare time.

OF "“ Gene Larkin

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Larkin majored in economics and broke most of Gehrig's records at Columbia before being selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 20th round of the 1984 draft. He made the Twins' big league roster in 1987 and was a member of Minnesota's first World Series championship team that year. In 1991, Larkin hit the game-winning single in Game 7 of the World Series to beat the Braves, 1-0. He was one of seven Twins to play on both title-winning teams. Paul Fernandes, Larkin's former coach at Columbia, watched the game on television. "When he hit the thing, it was so emotional"¦like watching your own child do something great," he told a reporter.

UTL "“ Mark DeRosa

derosa.jpgDeRosa has a degree from the Wharton School of Business, so he knows a thing or two about making decisions. In 1996, DeRosa's decision was between signing a contract with the Braves, who selected him in the seventh round of the draft, or returning to Penn, where he was a two-sport star and an All-Ivy League quarterback for the Quakers' football team. The New Jersey native opted to sign and is coming off the best season of his career after hitting 21 homers and driving in 87 runs for the defending NL Central champion Chicago Cubs. Former teammate Reed Johnson told the New York Times last season that DeRosa is a little self-conscious about his Ivy League degree, but fits in just fine in the clubhouse. "I figured he'd be a straight-edge guy, not as funny or hard-working," Johnson said. "He said to me, "˜What, did you think I was a geeky, sweater-tied-around-my-neck Ivy League guy?'" DeRosa was traded to Cleveland in the offseason.

SP "“ Ron Darling

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Darling majored in French and Southeast Asian history at Yale, where his stellar baseball career included a 1-0 loss to St. John's in which he didn't allow a hit for 11 innings. Darling was selected in the first round of the 1981 draft by the Texas Rangers and was traded to the New York Mets in 1982. The Hawaii native was a key member of the Mets' rotation when they won the World Series in 1986, winning 15 games and finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting. In a Sports Illustrated article that season, Darling said he could "envision [himself] as a professor." Since retiring with 136 career wins in 1995, Darling has become a fixture in the broadcast booth.

RP "“ Mike Remlinger

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As a sophomore at Dartmouth, Remlinger led the NCAA with a 1.59 ERA in 1986, yet finished with a 7-7 record. Talk about a lack of run support. The San Francisco Giants selected the lefthander with the 16th pick in the 1987 draft. Remlinger appeared in 639 games during his 14-year major league career, all but 59 of them coming as a reliever. He was one of the few left-handed pitchers who fared better against righties than lefties. Remlinger retired in 2006, one year after missing part of the season with a fracture suffered when his pinky was pinched between two recliners in the Cubs' clubhouse.

Future Major Leaguer? "“ Shawn Haviland

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Haven't heard of Haviland? You're not alone. The former Harvard star was drafted in the 33rd round of the 2008 draft by the Oakland Athletics and struck out 61 batters in 54 innings for the Vancouver Canadians, Oakland's Class A affiliate, last season. As he looks to follow in the footsteps of former Harvard-educated major leaguers, such as Jeff Musselman, Mike Stenhouse, and Peter Varney, you can keep tabs on Haviland's progress via his blog.

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9 Things You Might Not Know About 'Macho Man' Randy Savage
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Even by the standards of pro wrestling and its exaggerated personalities, there’s never been anyone quite like Randy “Macho Man” Savage (1952-2011). A staple of WWE and WCW programming in the 1980s and 1990s, Savage’s bulging neck veins, hoarse voice, and inventive gesticulations made him a star. Check out some facts in honor of what would’ve been Savage’s 65th birthday.

1. HE WAS ORIGINALLY A PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER.

Born Randall Poffo in Columbus, Ohio, Savage’s father, Angelo Poffo, was a notable pro wrestler in the 1950s, sometimes wrestling under a mask with a dollar sign on it as “The Masked Miser.” If that was considered the family business, Savage initially strayed from it, pursuing his love of baseball into a spot on the St. Louis Cardinals farm team as a catcher directly out of high school. Savage played nearly 300 minor league games over four seasons. After failing to make the majors, he decided to follow his father into wrestling.

2. A HAWAIIAN WRESTLER INSPIRED HIS FAMOUS TAGLINE.

In 1967, a then-15-year-old Savage accompanied his father to a wrestling event in Hawaii. There, he saw island grappler King Curtis Iaukea deliver a “promo,” or appeal for viewers to watch him in a forthcoming match. Iaukea spoke in a whisper before bellowing, punctuating his sentences with, “Ohhh, yeah!” That peculiar speech pattern stuck with Savage, who adopted it when he began his career in the ring.

3. HIS MOM GAVE HIM THE “MACHO MAN” NICKNAME.


By John McKeon from Lawrence, KS, United States - Randy "Macho Man" Savage, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

According to Savage, his wrestling nickname didn’t come from the Village People song but from an article his mother, Judy, had read in Reader’s Digest announcing that “macho man” was going to be a hot term in the coming years. She mailed it to Savage along with a list of other possible names. Even though neither one seemed to know what a “macho man” was, Savage liked the sound of it. His stage name, Savage, came from Georgia promoter Ole Anderson, who thought Savage’s grappling style was ferocious.

4. HE SCARED OTHER WRESTLERS.

In the early 1980s, Savage’s father had started promoting his own regional shows in the Lexington, Kentucky area. To draw publicity, Savage and the other wrestlers would sometimes show up to rival shows threatening grapplers and offering up wagers that they could beat them up in a real fight. Once, a Memphis wrestler named Bill Dundee pulled a gun on Savage, who allegedly took it away from him and beat him with it. After his father’s promotion closed up, Savage landed in the WWF (now WWE), giving him a national platform.

5. JAKE THE SNAKE’S PYTHON PUT HIM IN THE HOSPITAL.

One of Savage’s recurring feuds in the WWE was with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, a lanky wrestler who carried a python into the ring with him and allowed the reptile to “attack” his opponents. To intensify their rivalry, Savage agreed to allow Roberts’s snake to bite him on the arm during a television taping after being assured it was devenomized. Five days later, Savage was in the hospital with a 104-degree fever. Savage lived, but the snake didn’t; it died just a few days later. “He was devenomized, but maybe I wasn’t,” Savage told IGN in 2004. 

6. HE PLANNED HIS MATCHES DOWN TO THE SECOND.

While outcomes may be planned backstage, the choreography of pro wrestling is left largely up to the participants, who either talk it over prior to going out or call their moves while in the ring. For a 1987 match with Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III, Savage wanted everything to be absolutely perfect.

“We both had those yellow legal tablets, and we started making notes,” Steamboat told Sports Illustrated in 2015. “Randy would have his set of notes and I would have mine. Then we got everything addressed—number 1, number 2, number 3—and we went up to number 157. Randy would say, ‘OK, here is up to spot 90, now you tell me the rest.’ I would have to go through the rest, then I would quiz him. I’d never planned out a match that way, so it was very stressful to remember everything.” The effort was worth it: Their match is considered by many fans to be among the greatest of all time.

7. HIS MARRIAGE TO MISS ELIZABETH CAUSED PROBLEMS IN THE LOCKER ROOM.

Savage’s “valet” in the WWE was Miss Elizabeth, a fixture of his corner during most of his career in the 1980s. Although they had an onscreen wedding in 1991, they had been married in real life back in 1984. According to several wrestlers, Savage was jealously guarded with his wife, whom he kept in their own locker room. Savage would also confront wrestlers he believed to have been hitting on her. The strain of working and traveling together was said to have contributed to their (real) divorce in 1991.

8. HE CUT A RAP ALBUM DISSING HULK HOGAN.

In 2003, with his best years in the ring behind him, Savage decided to pursue a new career in rap music. Be a Man featured 13 rap songs, including one that eulogized his late friend, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. But the performance that got the most mainstream attention was the title track, which dissed wrestling star Hulk Hogan. The two had apparently gotten into a rivalry after Hogan made some disparaging comments about Savage on a Tampa, Florida radio show. Whether the sentiment was real or staged, it didn’t do much to help sales: Be a Man moved just 3000 copies.

9. HE MIGHT GET A STATUE IN HIS HOMETOWN.

In 2016, fans circulated a petition to get Savage his own statue in Columbus, Ohio. The initiative was inspired by the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger has a monument in Columbus, and wrestling fans argue that Savage should get equal time. The mayor has yet to issue a response. In the meantime, a 20-inch-tall resin statue of Savage was released by McFarlane Toys in 2014.

See Also: 10 Larger-Than-Life Facts About Andre the Giant

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10 Secrets of Ski Instructors
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If you’ve spent this fall wearing shorts and sandals, you’re not alone: Temperatures have been warmer than average across the United States. But no matter how warm it is where you are, there’s still snow (and skiing) in the forecast somewhere. Before you hit the slopes this winter, check out these on-the-job secrets of ski instructors, from why they love bad weather to what they do during the summer.

1. THEY LOVE BAD WEATHER.

No one can control the weather, but ski instructors cross their fingers for frosty temperatures and heavy snowfall. “Ski instructors love cold, appalling winter weather because it so often results in big snowfalls and the skier's dream—velvety powder snow,” says Chalky White, a ski instructor and the author of The 7 Secrets of Skiing.

But big snowfalls don’t always happen, so ski instructors try to make the best of whatever weather they encounter on a given day. Tony Macri of Snow Trainers, a ski and snowboard training company based in Colorado and New Zealand, tells Mental Floss that the weather’s unpredictability makes ski instructing an adventure. “I never think that weather is disappointing,” he says. “It is what creates more challenge and mystery in every day, versus going back to your cubicle that always has the same florescent light shining down on you.”

2. SOME OF THEM HAVE A BEEF WITH SNOWBOARDERS.

Although some ski instructors also teach (and love) snowboarding, the majority of them try to stay away from snowboarders on the slopes, at least when they’re teaching. “[Snowboarders] tend to push all the fresh snow down the hill with their natural movements. Gets pretty frustrating!” justind99, a ski instructor in Quebec, writes in a Reddit AMA.

But other ski instructors have a more zen attitude when it comes to snowboarders and preach coexistence. “We are all here to have fun,” rbot1, a ski instructor in Salt Lake City, says in a Reddit AMA. “The snowboarder vs skier stigma does nothing but cause problems. Share the mountain!”

3. THEIR CERTIFICATION PROCESS IS INTENSE.

Ski instructor teaching adults

Depending on the country in which they become certified, ski instructors must take classes and pass a series of tests to prove their proficiency. In the U.S., the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) establishes certification requirements for instructors. Once instructors become certified, they can take additional tests of their technical skills to earn higher levels of certification.

“Level 1 is pretty easy to get. Anyone that can ski a blue square comfortably can pass a level 1 exam,” rbot1 says. But achieving certification for higher levels is more challenging, requiring ski instructors to demonstrate their mastery of various turns, bump runs, and drills. “A single mistake in any of those runs nets you a fail,” says rbot1, who spent two years preparing for his Level 2 test. “These drills might be easy to complete, but you have to do it perfectly.”

4. THEY’VE SEEN SOME GNARLY ACCIDENTS.

Although some people think of skiing as a risky activity, ski instructors insist that, statistically, skiing is no more hazardous than many other sports. That said, most ski instructors have seen at least one nasty injury on the slopes, including broken legs and noses, concussions, and shoulder dislocations. “The worst injury I ever witnessed was a spinal fracture from a kid landing on his back after attempting to do a jump in the snow park area,” justind99 says.

“I have seen some injuries to knees, but the worst was when a friend concussed himself so bad that he was knocked out and was actually sleeping with his eyes open,” Macri says. White tells Mental Floss that a helicopter once picked him up from the slopes because medics suspected that he’d broken his neck. “Good news—I didn’t."

5. THEIR PAY ISN’T GREAT.

The income ski instructors make can vary widely, based on where they teach and their level of expertise. Some instructors earn $10 or $11 an hour for group lessons but charge more for private lessons or longer coaching sessions. While most beginning ski instructors may make just $20,000 per year, the perks of getting paid to ski outweigh the lack of cash for many instructors. “I do understand that at some point I’ll need to either start working really hard to boost my earning potential as an instructor or find another field,” rbot1 says. “For now, it’s a blast.”

6. THEY GET CREATIVE TO TEACH KIDS.

Ski instructor teaching children

A group of young kids bundled up in ski jackets while they try to balance on narrow skis might look adorable, but teaching children to ski comes with plenty of challenges. “Some kids don't have the muscles to do it at [a young] age and some do,” explains inkybus21, a ski and snowboard instructor who has taught in Canada, Australia, and Japan. To make sure his young students don’t lose interest or give up, he makes up games that require various skiing motions and uses visuals to help kids figure out how to properly use their bodies.

7. THEIR EQUIPMENT IS EXPENSIVE.

Ski equipment can be pricey, and ski instructors know the pain of an empty wallet firsthand. From skis and boots to bindings, poles, helmets, goggles, and other accessories, ski instructors can easily spend over $1000 on their equipment. And because their gear gets more use than a casual skier’s, instructors typically go through a pair of skis, boots, and liners each season. But many instructors are eligible for steep discounts on their gear, thanks to their employer or their PSIA-AASI membership. “I haven't bought anything at retail price in years,” rbot1 says. “I can’t even imagine paying full price for a pair of boots or ski/binder set up.”

8. THEY MISS SKIING DURING THE SUMMER.

In a career dependent on the winter season, what do ski instructors do during the summer? Some of them travel to the opposite hemisphere to work at a ski resort—essentially working two winters in a row. But because it can be costly to travel and live on another continent, most ski instructors work odd jobs or use their savings to rock climb and explore the outdoors in the off season. Rbot1, for example, has spent his summers working at a ski resort’s restaurant, boxing fish at an Alaskan processing plant, and living off of his savings. “Most people have a seasonal job. The most popular is raft guiding, the second most popular is working at a state park,” he says.

9. THEY GREATLY APPRECIATE TIPS.

Ski instructors don’t always receive tips from their students, and they wish more people knew that they welcome—and in some cases, expect—gratuity. Rbot1 recounts the story of how he once earned $1500, his biggest tip to date, after instructing a family of four for five days, taking them to different parts of the mountain and even eating lunch with them. “At the end of the week it was all hugs and smiles, but my hand was left dry,” he says. “Anyways, next day I got an email that said ‘you have a tip in the office’ and BOOM $1500 in an envelope.” Rbot1 made good use of the generous tip, paying two months of rent and car payments, as well as buying new ski goggles and gloves.

10. THEY LOVE HELPING PEOPLE OVERCOME THEIR FEARS.

Although skiing is good exercise and an enjoyable winter activity, learning to ski can also help people feel more confident. “It’s not always about skiing and teaching people to be the best skiers,” Macri says. “A lot of [the job] is just about showing people a good time and helping them achieve their goals or overcoming their fears.”

Macri particularly appreciates the amazing views from the top of a mountain, as well as the feeling he gets when he takes students down a great run and everyone high-fives one another in joy. “I sit back and think this is my office and I am having just as amazing [a] time as everyone else. The only difference is that I am getting paid for it,” he says.

All photos courtesy of iStock.

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