MACwood Squares is our summer reading series on the best athletes in Mid-American Conference sports history. This week features OHIO. Looking for your MAC school? Consult our schedule for other teams and please submit your nominees as well.
We normally don't do polls when looking at baseball players ... and this one is no exception. Mostly because the answer is a foregone conclusion, and I'm not entirely sure if a second player stands out well enough to be in the final nine. That's not to say there haven't been some exemplary baseballers to wear the Green O. There have.
Mike Schmidt, as you can imagine, is going to be the best baseball player to ever come out of Athens. He was one of three All-Americans on the fabled 1970 College World Series team, along with Mike Hannah and Ed Robbins, who finished fourth in the country. He was the team shortstop and was named to two All-American teams (first team 1970, second-team 1971). For those not in the know, Schmidt sustained an 18-year career as the Phillies third baseman, winning three MVP awards, making 12 All-Star appearances, hitting 548 carer home runs (15th all time) and is currently ranked by Baseball-Reference's EloRater as the 17th best batter of all time.
And he just may be the best third baseman to ever play the game. Anywhere.
Also on that 1970 team was future MLB catcher Steve Swisher, the guy who sired Nick Swisher. A first-round pick by the White Sox in 1973, he would be traded to the Cubs for an aging Ron Santo and play nine seasons for the Cubs/Cardinals/Padres, making one All-Star game (thanks to a decent first-half in 1976) but ultimately finished with a .216 average and 20 home runs for his career.
But Frank Baumholtz needs to come back into the discussion. He was one of their top basketball players but in the pro ranks he found a better calling as an outfielder with the Reds/Cubs/Phillies, amassing a career 1,010 hits and a .290 average. In 1947 he was fifth in ML Rookie of the Year voting (which went to Jackie Robinson) and also received a few MVP votes in 1952. So if you add in his baseball accolades to his basketball lore, then you might have a solid candidate.
And then there was Bob Brenly, also an All-American third baseman, who played nine seasons with the Giants (and briefly with the Blue Jays), making one All-Star Game and then being more known as a broadcaster, manager of the 2001 World Series-winning Diamondbacks, and then again as a broadcaster.
In terms of the current boys, look to Rays relief pitcher Adam Russell and D'backs Double-A outfielder Marc Krauss, who in 2009 earned a first-team All-American award for hitting .402/.521/.852 with 27 homers, 46 walks, and 70 RBI. He notched school single-season records for slugging, homers, walks, and RBI (the latter of which was broken the following year).
Not even really a point in doing a poll. Schmidt's our man. But is there any reason to add a second baseball player into the MACwood Squares? This is the open-ended question.
Who are your nominees for OHIO's MACwood Squares? Comment below, tweet us at @HustleBelt or submit a FanPost making your case. The final nine will be revealed Friday.