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
On 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, 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
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 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
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, 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
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 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
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
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
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.