By: Director of Athletic Communications & Public Relations Kevin Ruple
BEREA, Ohio -- If the longtime baseball adage "There's No Crying in Baseball" were applied today, "You'd definitely get some pushback," said former Baldwin Wallace University Division III All-American right-handed pitcher and CoSIDA Academic All-American Danny Cody'19 (Brecksville), who now pitches in the Houston Astros minor league system.
While the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and the Players Relation Committee (PRC/ owners) continue to try to negotiate a settlement that may bring baseball back to masses to cities such as Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and equate the scaled down multi-million dollar salaries for the players and reduced revenues to the owners, a number of BW graduates like Cody are just hoping to make ends meet as they negotiate their ways through their personal professional baseball careers.
Getting to Spring Training in Florida and Then the Virus Struck
Cody is at home in Brecksville awaiting recall from the Astros after spending one week in spring training in West Palm Beach, Florida when it all ended abruptly due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
"It was tough, I won't kid you, to leave spring training and come back home" said Cody, who was a 17th Round draft pick after graduating from BW with a degree in finance. "I was excited to get started and then the plug gets pulled. But I'll be ready to go again when it all starts again. I'm just remaining positive."
The Waiting is the Hardest Part
While Cody has been back home in Northeast Ohio, he has stayed close to the Astros organization through zoom internet meetings, phone conversations with his pitching coordinator and text messages from his trainer. He works out multiple times daily with both physical conditioning and throwing and doing simulated pitching drills.
"There were a few anxious moments, and I won't kid you," said Cody. "When the Astros' first announced they were going to cut up to sixty players in the organization, I am confident in my abilities, but was still extremely nervous during the process.
"When the first cuts were made, I was relieved," continued Cody". "The final 20 cuts were just recently made, and I was assured that I will be retained next season, so whether we return this season or not, I know I have a place in the Astros organization going forward."
In his first season of minor league baseball, Cody compiled a 0-1 record with a 3.91 earned run average, covering 23 innings pitched with 21 strikeouts and a save.
Staying Active in NE Ohio and Prepared to Return to the Astros
The thing that has excited Cody the most since returning home, in addition to being near his family and girlfriend, is working and coaching with the Medina-based Mike Adams Fitness Baseball Team Gators U11-16 groups.
"In addition to getting in my daily workouts, I coach 11-to-16 year old kids, and that definitely has kept me busy," said Cody, who compiled a 19-8 record with a 2.93 earned run average and struck our 262 batters in 227 innings at BW. "Two weekends ago, combined, our teams played nine games during the weekend, four on Saturday and five on Sunday; so that is a lot of baseball in two days!"
Zimmerman Joins Cody in Pro Baseball
Danny Cody is joined in pro baseball and in the minor leagues by 2016 graduate and San Diego Padres farmhand Mark Zimmerman, who began his fourth season of pro ball this spring. Zimmerman is a right-handed pitcher who had an outstanding first season with the Padres and played in its "Futures" Game at Petco Park in San Diego in 2016, but then suffered a setback with injury late into the 2017 season.
Zimmerman has missed most of the 2018 and 2019 seasons after having "Tommy John" surgery on his right elbow. He made his return to the pitching mound at the end of last season and was really looking forward to returning this season. Now it looks like his return now will occur in 2021.
BW Well-Represented in the Front Office Throughout Baseball
And when the Coronavirus begins to clear and the fans begin to stream back to the ballpark and the umpire gives the all-clear sign and says "Play Ball", 2015 BW grad Anthony Eder (Valley View), who is the Community Impact Coordinator for the Cleveland Indians, will be ready to go. He has been working hard and staying busy this spring.
"I've been working with our Youth Baseball Manager on pivoting our summer and fall programs," said Eder, who played on BW's CWS team in 2014. "I also was involved with the Cleveland Indians Charities, Inc. relief efforts for part-time and seasonal employees.
"In addition, we have been looking for ways that we can highlight our local senior baseball and softball players in Northeast Ohio who had their seasons cut short or never had a season begin at all," said Eder. "For some, it was or would have been their only activity for the summer or the year.
Joining Eder at the Indians in the front office is 18-year veteran Penny Forster, the Manager of Corporate and Community Partnerships, and Jeremy Feador '07, who works in the communications department and is the Indians historian.
Forster Learning to Better Communicate Effectively
Two years ago, Ian Forster '18 was helping BW veteran Head Coach Brian Harrison's Yellow Jacket team win an OAC title and a berth in the NCAA Division III National Tournament and today he is working with young Cleveland Indians' hitters helping them improve their skills on-line while waiting for spring training and the season to reopen
"All of our complexes are closed except our Dominican Complex that houses our Dominican players," said Forster. "I was at our training complex in Goodyear [in Arizona] prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Right now, the health and well-being of our players and their families is our top priority.
"One of the lessons we have learned through this pandemic is how to more effectively communicate with our younger players," said Forster. "Whether it is over the phone, via the computer, through video or zoom meetings, we have been able to improve our communication and are better able to teach skills that will enhance their skills and make them a better baseball player.
"Developing good relationships and effective communication was one of the major things I took away from playing and working with Coach Harrison while at BW," said Forster. "Seeing how important it was to on the field performance and now seeing how important it is when we do not have access to the field has helped me have a greater appreciation for it."
Some Other BW Grads Working in Professional Baseball
Five guys who deal with this type of adversity all of the time are Cleveland Indians Strength and Conditioning Coach Scott Nealon '10, Indians Strength & Conditioning Assistant Trent Kaltenbach '18, Cincinnati Reds Strength Coach Brad Epstein '05, Atlanta Braves Head Trainer George Poulos '88 and Oakland Athletics Head Trainer Nick Paparesta '94.