Providing Student News to Old Dominion University Since 1930

Mace & Crown

Providing Student News to Old Dominion University Since 1930

Mace & Crown

Providing Student News to Old Dominion University Since 1930

Mace & Crown

“A Great Game,” The Monarch Baseball Story

Bob Bradlee (Courtesy of ODU Athletics)
Graduate Hunter Cole awaits the pick off attempt from first base.

Being an athlete in the modern age at the college or professional level provides a unique opportunity and experience. These individuals are athletes primarily, but above and beyond, they are role models for the next generation. 

“That’s what makes [baseball] a great game—the support and commitment that the fans give it,” said Nolan Ryan, an acclaimed MLB player. 

As Ryan says, sports are inherently dependent on the support of the fans. The fans buy tickets, purchase memorabilia, and, in ODU’s case, donate to the athletic foundation to further the opportunities of future athletes. 

With these choices made by fans, it is inherently the responsibility of the athletes to put on a quality performance on and off the field as a way to pay homage to their home fanbase. 

The Monarchs have a rich history of baseball dating back to the 1960s with Bud Metheny and his propulsion of the program into a domain of respect and success in the state of Virginia and across the country. 

Metheny’s 1964 crew finished 22-3 and won the “little eight,” a conglomerate of Virginia schools. They then went on to win the Mason-Dixon Conference title with victories over Buffalo and New Hampshire. This was an impressive accomplishment on an enormous stage as the Monarchs played and won at Yankee Stadium. Metheny’s success continued throughout the 1960s and won him a decisive place among a plethora of sports halls of fame, including ODU’s. 

ODU Baseball celebrates a walk-off against No. 10 East Carolina. (Cam Easton (Courtesy of ODU Athletics) )

In recent years, the Monarchs have cultivated one of the best pitchers to ever pick up a ball, Justin Verlander. After three years at ODU and a long list of accolades, Verlander was taken second overall in the 2004 MLB draft by the Detroit Tigers. Verlander’s accolades continued at the professional level, as he has racked up three Cy Youngs, three world series, and an MVP, among many others. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 27, those in attendance witnessed something special when the East Carolina Pirates appeared for a game. Head Coach Finwood and crew were able to partner with ECU to give Gavin Yonce a chance to throw out the first pitch. Gavin suffers from a rare pediatric cancer dubbed Ewing Sarcoma. 

Yonce made a friend that day, however, as he was able to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to ECU’s Parker Byrd, who is the first player to compete in NCAA baseball with a prosthetic leg. Byrd’s leg was lost in a boating accident in 2022, and his presence at the ballpark gave Yonce a sense of solidarity in his ability to overcome roadblocks.

The luck of Yonce must have radiated through the home dugout as the Monarchs were able to topple #11 ECU on a walk-off home run from outfielder Steven Meier, bringing a happy ending to a dreary afternoon game. 

The Monarch baseball squad is trying their best to win not only on the field but also in the hearts of the great fanbase that resides across Hampton Roads.

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About the Contributor
Art Neal
Art Neal, Assistant Sports Editor
Art Neal serves as an Assistant Sports Editor for the Mace & Crown. He is in his second year at Old Dominion and is currently majoring in Biology with a concentration in Biomedical Sciences. Art is excited for the opportunity to write sports journalism and further expand his sports fanaticism that he has had since a young age. After Old Dominion, Art hopes to head off to medical school where he is hopeful for the opportunity to incorporates his journalism experiences into his future career. You can reach him at [email protected].

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