Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Hall of Fame
Remembering Harvard Athletics
When I was in high school and playing American Legion baseball during the summer before senior year, I received the first few of my college recruiting letters, including one from Dartmouth. I had never considered myself Ivy League material, and I was even more skeptical when Coach Barbarotta told me that before long, I’d be hearing from other Ivies including Harvard. For someone I looked up to quite a bit, I was beginning to seriously question his judgment.
By the Fall of senior year of high school, not only was my coach correct, but I also found myself with the opportunity to play a baseball game at my home field of Trumbull High School in Trumbull, Connecticut (Go Eagles!), with Harvard Head Coach Joe Walsh and Assistant Coach Matt Hyde in the stands. It was a good day, and enough to make an impression on my soon-to-be new coaches. Toward the end of my Harvard career, Coach Walsh asked if I remembered that Fall day and shared that he knew he had found his new starting catcher for the next four years. I’m not sure how true that was, but I’m pretty sure I had a great game after he told me that.
To those coaches, my parents and friends who believed in me and invested themselves in my success, I am eternally thankful. You opened the doors to the most amazing of all opportunities – to be a Harvard graduate. To this day it’s an experience I carry with me, that shapes who I am and what I believe myself capable of. I am so honored to be able to include this induction into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame as part of my story, am humbled by the recognition and want to thank all those influential forces and friends along the way.
Thank you, first, to my Harvard Coaches. The late Joe Walsh had a passion for the game that I will always admire and will continue to pursue in my own endeavors. Coach Hyde’s concern for hustle, hard work and showing up on time with maximum effort has stayed with me. Thank you to Coach Donovan for the juiciest batting practice pitches and confidence boost ahead of our biggest games. Thanks also to Brad Quigley and the Harvard training staff for keeping us healthy and for the fun and calming presence in our dugout.
From the days leading to Harvard, I’d like to thank my hitting coach, Joe Benanto. Thanks to Bob Sorrentino for my first job (which resembled my professional baseball career, sadly) of catching pitching lessons and bullpens. Thank you to Trumbull High School’s late Coach Jerry MacDougall, who was the reason my parents picked Trumbull as our new hometown when we moved East in 8th grade. I can still see him down the third base line, guiding me through deep breaths ahead of important at-bats. It worked so well I try to do the same with my kids now, and I owe him for many lifelong friends I am fortunate enough to golf with annually to this day. Thank you also to Team Connecticut AAU baseball and the coaches and teammates who first taught me the hard work and sweat that would be required to uncover your best.
I’m thankful for my Harvard summers spent playing baseball and getting to see new areas and make friends all over this great country. Thanks to my teammates and friends from Youngstown, Ohio and the Great Lakes League. While it was cut short by injury, my favorite summer was spent in Kenai, Alaska playing for the Oilers and fishing for King Salmon after the games. Thank you to Karen Kester and the Ping family, some great hosts. Thank you to the Keene (NH) Swamp Bat family and to Bob and Gerry Merchant. I am still trying to make a batch of beef jerky as good as Bob’s.
Thank you to my Harvard teammates, who became my best friends and were the source of the most fun and laughs I’ve ever had.
Thank you to a great senior class that set the bar high when I was a freshman. To the best pitcher (it was close, Frank) I ever caught, Ben Crockett ’02, thanks for allowing me the honor to catch you as a freshman. To Faiz Shakir ’02, Mark Mager ’02, Justin Nywiede ’02, Josh San Salvador ’02, Nick Carter ’02, Chaney Sheffield ’02, and Javy Lopez ’02, bringing home the Ivy League Championship as freshmen truly inspired the class of 2005.
Thanks to Barry Wahlberg ’03 for your leadership and competitiveness, and to Matt Self ’03, Bryan Lentz’ 03, Kenon Ronz ’03, Nick Seminara ’03, Brendan Reed ’03, TJ Sevier and Ryan Tsujikawa ‘03 for a great sophomore season. Madhu Satyanarayana ’03, your laugh and big smile at future reunions will be sorely missed.
Thanks to Trey Hendricks ’04, whose talents on the mound and in the batter’s box gave us a shot competing with teams from any conference. (Thanks also for a nice format to your HVC HOF essay!) Thank you, Bryan Hale ’04, Mickey Kropf ’04, Jason Brown ’04, and Marc Hordon ’04 for a great locker room, especially with Kangaroo Court.
To my best boys from day one: Javier Arteaga ’05 thanks for your friendship and figuring out this Harvard experience through the highs and lows, and for standing with me on my wedding day. Rob Wheeler ’05, our road trips and odd-couple rooming situation will be cherished forever. Ian Wallace ’05, I wish I had someone in my life still who could make me laugh as hard as you did. AJ Solomine ’05, our sophomore year room was epic and holds some of my favorite memories. Thank you also to Mike Morgalis ’05 for your good humor and full repertoire of pitches, Curtis Miller ‘05 for your intensity, Jeff Friedman ’05 for your hustle like no other, and Pat Griffin ’05 for keeping it fun.
Thank you to Zak Farkes ’06 for your dedication and inspiring work ethic; to Morgan Brown ’06 for your good character; to almost classmate Chris Mackey ’06 for your kindness and friendship; to Frank Herrmann ’06 for your nicknames and proving Ivy boys can make it; to Lance Salsgiver ’06 for your free spirit; to Mike Dukovich ’06 for your hot mop; to fishing buddy, Matt Brunnig ’06; to Javy Castellanos ’06 for bringing heat; to Josh Klimkiewicz ’06 for padding the HR/RBI stat line; and to Wes Cosgriff ’06 for your strength; to Brendan Byrne ’07 for your toughness and loyalty; to Jake Bruton ’07, Andrew Casey ’07, and John Wolff ‘07 for an amazing run in 2004 when we missed our Ivy Championship, but hit a lot of dingers and had a blast.
There was another particularly talented group of people that deserves special thanks for the gift of documenting Harvard Baseball’s endeavors from 2002 to 2005. To Martin Bell, Lande Spottswood, Alex McPhillips and Pablo Torre, I honestly do not think we deserved the high quality, creative and beautiful things you wrote about us in the Harvard Crimson over the years. But I can assure you that future generations will be impressed thanks to your telling.
Thank you to my favorite Sociology professors, Peter Marsden and David Ager, who permitted me to be a baseball player in academia and gave me the chance to do some really fun projects while also understanding the challenges for a student-athlete and his schedule.
Thank you to my good friend, Takin Khorram, for making my childhood dream of professional baseball a reality when he guided me through signing as a free agent with the New York Yankees in 2005, and then guided me through my wedding ceremony years later.
Finally, thank you to my parents, Mark and Lainie Mann. Whenever faced with a family decision, you sacrificed yourselves to prioritize my wellbeing and to give me every available opportunity to succeed. You taught me hard work, self-sufficiency, and always doing what’s right, no matter the effort or discomfort it may cause. You avoided shortcuts, never sacrificed function for form, and inspired creativity and problem solving. Most importantly, you showed me the importance of family and unconditional love, and I only hope I can give as much to my kids as you gave to me. I love you both and thank you.
While you came along after my playing days, thank you to my beautiful wife Erin, and three amazing children, Sawyer, Rhys and Teagan. You provide me with the greatest gifts of my life and are the inspiration to continue working hard and competing for better every day.
Thank you to everyone who gave me the opportunity to add to one of the richest legacies in the history of education and our country. What a blessing! It’s a special family to be a part of, and to be further recognized as a member of the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame holds a special place in my heart. Veritas!