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Baseball's Version of Rudy is Alive and Well and in Berea

(Photo courtesy of Alec Palmer)
(Photo courtesy of Alec Palmer)

By:  Director of Athletic Communications and Public Relations Kevin Ruple

BEREA, Ohio -- For the first three years of his college baseball career, Baldwin Wallace University senior Ian Forster (North Olmsted) longed for the opportunity to contribute by swinging the bat or making a great catch or throw in the outfield. But those "opps" were as a member of the Yellow Jacket junior varsity squad.

Forster is a "coaches player". He is the epitome of the team player. He is the guy who will do virtually anything to help his team and teammates with no questions asked. He is a doer, and he loves every minute of it.

"I love the game of baseball and the BW baseball team," said Forster, who is a key four-year student assistant in the university's athletic communications office. "All I have ever wanted was that opportunity to contribute, to show my teammates that I can help.

"I am grateful for the opportunity that Coach Harrison [Head Coach Brian Harrison] has given me," said Forster. "I have always felt like I belonged and have been treated well by the staff.

"I want to than Coach Harrison and Coach DeAngelis [Assistant Coach Tom DeAngelis] for helping me not only grow and develop as a player but as a person too," said Forster. "I will always cherish the relationships that I've built with the coaches and players."

The First Three Years

In addition to being a member of the JV team as a freshman, sophomore and junior, Forster also served as a batting practice pitcher, "fungo" guy in infield, team manager, statistician, public address announcer, scoreboard operator or whatever the team needed to be successful.

"I have the utmost respect for Ian and the effort, dedication and commitment that he has put forth since day one in our program," said Harrison, in his eighth season at BW. "He is a great team player, the kind of guy you want in the locker room or in the dugout.

"I'll be honest with you, Ian is not our most talented baseball player, but he can play the game and would be a good player on a lot of other teams," said Harrison. "And, he could of given up a long time ago, but that's not in his DNA.  That's why he's being successful this season and why he'll be a success after graduation and in the future.

"We, as a coaching staff and team, are excited for Ian," said Harrison. "Everyone loves Ian Forster!"

Forster is Our Rudy

His first opportunity to see varsity action came on February 25 in a 13-1 second game win versus Oberlin College. With the Yellow Jackets leading 10-1, Harrison called upon Forster in the bottom of the eighth inning to pick up a bat and hit. And hit he did. Forster laced a run-scoring double and then later scored himself. Overall, he has batted five times this spring and has a .250 batting average with a double, RBI, run scored and a walk.

Forster's second chance to help came on the team's annual spring break trip to Florida. A trip that Harrison says he earned for his three years of giving back every day to the team.

With the Yellow Jackets in a 16-16 deadlock in the top of the ninth inning with cross-state rival Bluffton University and Harrison out of everyday pitchers, he called upon Forster to pitch.  

"During the winter and due to some preseason and season-ending injuries to some key pitchers, Coach Harrison knew we might be short on pitching, so he asked me to work on that aspect too," said Forster. "I had not pitched since high school and was willing to do it if it would help the team."

"Ian knew the score and knew we needed him to throw strikes and get an out so we could score in the bottom of the ninth and win," said Harrison.

It took Forster just one pitch to induce a groundout to end the Beaver threat. BW scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to win, 17-16.

Rudy Also Does Well in the Classroom

In addition to his exploits on the field and campus, Forster also is a strong student who carries a better than 3.0 grade point average, majoring in exercise science and minoring in psychology and athletic coaching.

"I'm not sure what I want to do after graduation yet," said Forster, who belongs to the NCSA (National Strength & Conditioning Association) and coaches a 16u baseball team in the summer. "It will probably be something in the strength and conditioning field and/ or coaching baseball."

BW's Rudy, Ian Forster, is alive and well and living in Berea.