Living legend Tommy Lasorda once said that “there are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.” Senior quarterback-turned-pitcher Andrew Hatch is undoubtedly a part of the first group.
Just when all seemed said and done after a concussion hastened the end of his football career, Hatch made an interesting and unpredictable step: exchanging his football helmet for a baseball cap and walking on to the Harvard baseball team (1-13, 0-0 Ivy) in the spring of his senior year.
“I wanted to challenge myself, to see if I could really still play,” Hatch said. “I always loved baseball. It was the sport I picked up first, and the team looked like a great thing to be a part of.”
Hatch hasn’t competed on the diamond since his senior year as a pitcher for the Cimarron-Memorial High School Spartans.
“Getting back into baseball was hard work,” Hatch said. “I got going with a few workouts over break before starting the spring semester with the team. I really pushed myself to try to get a spot and help the program be successful.”
Coach Joe Walsh was so impressed by Hatch’s handle on the game that he overlooked his six year hiatus and offered him a spot on the roster.
“I’d known about him for some time through old coaches,” Walsh said. “But when he came out, I was still impressed. He worked on all aspects of the game: pitching, batting, defense. We couldn’t wait to see what he’d look like in early April.”
Cimarron-Memorial High School baseball coach Mike Hubel isn’t surprised by Hatch’s ability to pick up the game.
“Andrew is a superb athlete,” Hubel said. “He pitched in some of our most crucial games and was very successful. His work ethic is phenomenal, and when he puts his mind to becoming good at something, he has the athletic ability to be good.”
In 2005, when he was last on the diamond, the Cimmaron-Memorial Spartans were ranked No. 48 nationally coming into the season, and Hatch earned second-team all conference honors as a pitcher.
“He started off a little slow, which was expected because he hadn’t played in a while, but by mid-season, about 10 or so games, he was deadly on the diamond,” Hubel said.
Yet, on a team where at least 18 people can pitch, and twice as many vie for outfield spots, Hatch’s impact on this squad has been limited. The senior has played only eight games in the field and two on the mound in Harvard’s 14 outings.
So far, Hatch’s foray into baseball has helped the struggling Crimson put up a fight, accounting for a run, four hits, and three RBIs in a tough 8-4 loss at Jacksonville State on March 4, and a ninth-inning score in the Crimson’s last matchup against Charlotte last Sunday.
“He’s definitely wowed everyone,” freshman infielder Carlton Bailey said. “He went 4-for-4 in his first time up this season and didn’t fail to impress.”
Never one for complacency, the senior football standout continues to look for ways to expand his impact on the team.
“The coaches and players have all really helped me get things going quickly, but I’m still looking to progress from here,” Hatch said. “I want to contribute whatever I can to the team, hopefully start getting some wins this weekend and really push everyone to their potential come Ivy League play.”
Off the field, his effect on his teammates has been noticed by players and coaches alike.
“It’s crazy to think that a BCS national champion is playing alongside you every day,” Bailey said. “He’s great guy, he leads by example, and he’s definitely an inspiration for all the guys on the team.”
Interestingly enough, “inspiration” is also a word Walsh found fitting when describing his new pitcher and outfielder.
“He’s got a quiet demeanor about him, but he’s a hard working guy with a real desire to compete as a college athlete,” Walsh said. “If you’ve got a passion for baseball, it’s a hard thing to give up, and that’s one thing he shows for sure. Now that’s an inspiration.”