Frank Herrmann, the number-one Harvard starter, shrugged off the elements and made the moment his own.
It was a long time coming.
The 2003 Ivy Championship Series ended when the junior—then a raw, power-hitting freshman—lumbered to the batter’s box and struck out against Princeton star Thomas Pauly in the series’ final at-bat.
Two years and two days later, Herrmann—a 6’4, 220-pound beast with hands “like shovels,” as Harvard coach Joe Walsh once mused—toed the mound as Harvard’s ace.
On the line: the Ivy League championship against Cornell. In the opposing dugout: Pauly’s kid brother William, a catcher for theBig Red. In Herrmann’s thoughts: a baffling impression of discomfort.
“I didn’t feel good at all,” Herrmann said. “For the first four innings, I actually felt terrible.”
And so it was that Herrmann worked against the frigid breeze, an unusually frigid fastball, and two years’ worth of unfulfilled imaginings to record one of the most remarkable—and consequential—starts of his collegiate career: an eight-hit, 2-0 victory.
“He shut out the biggest game of the year,” said Schuyler Mann, Herrmann’s receiver. “He just came out and bulldogged it.”
“Makes it a little sweeter,” Herrmann said.
For Shawn Haviland, the freshman phenom whose snap-curveball already belonged somewhere beyond the Ivy League, victory always came easy—at least, when his hard breaking stuff had the good sense to find the strike zone.
Haviland took the mound in Game Two without the back-story, the history, and the heartbreak.
He took the mound clutching more than a little hope.
“I didn’t want to let the team down,” he said.
Game Two pitted the precocious rookie against Dan Gala, a four-year Big Red veteran whose ERA in seven starts (3.21) was the staff’s best.
And so when Haviland allowed the first two Cornell batters to reach base—on a single and a walk—and continued to miss high with a fastball that “didn’t have much pop,” as he said later, the youngster needed to find inspiration.