The University of Rochester’s John Ghyzel follows in the footsteps of Tom Havens ’91 (Madison Muskies, 1992)

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The Tom Havens ’91 Scoreboard at Towers Field, Brian F. Prince Athletic Complex, University of Rochester [Photo: David Kramer, 12/29/18]

John Ghyzel (University of Rochester Athletics)

John Ghyzel (University of Rochester Athletics)

Playing in Division III and in the raw Northeast spring, University of Rochester baseball is not a traditional hotbed. Nonetheless, over the years the program has produced noteworthy standouts, including Tom Havens ’91 who donated funds for the Tom Havens ’91 Towers Field scoreboard.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Mar 25, 2015

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Mar 25, 2015

Tallahasee Democrat, 19 Jun 1981

Tallahassee Democrat, 19 Jun 1981. Weiermiller was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 14th round of the 1981 MLB June Amateur Draft

Recently, pitcher John Ghyzel, chosen by the Cincinnati Reds in the 18th round, became only the second Yellowjacket to be drafted by a major league team, joining Michael Weiermiller in 1981.

In Ghyzel progresses to the pros (UR Campus Times), Sports Editor Trevor Whitestone follows John’s career from a freshman with a “live arm” whose mechanics needed honing to a major league prospect with a fastball peaking at 99 mph. Under the tutelage of Coach Joe Reina, each season John advanced: from a first season ERA of 5.45 to holding opponents in his junior year to a .232 batting average.

John Ghyzel selected by Reds in 2017 Major League Draft (Univeristy of Rocheste Athetics). According to redlegsbaseball.com, Ghyzel signed for @83,000.

John Ghyzel selected by Reds in 2017 Major League Draft (Univeristy of Rocheste Athetics). According to redlegsbaseball.com, Ghyzel signed for @83,000.

Dragons reliever John Ghyzel fires a pitch (Dazyton Daily News)

“Dragons reliever John Ghyzel fires a pitch” (Dayton Daily News, April 18, 2018 )

At a 2017, Memorial Day weekend pro workout, Ghyzel opened the eyes of scouts with his elite velocity, ultimately leading to his drafting by the Cincinnati, pitching his first game on June 28, 2017 for the Arizona League Reds.

In the minors John has been progressively improving. In 2018, John recorded 19 saves for the Dayton Dragons of the Class A Midwest League and made the Eastern Division All-Star team.

(left) Boxscore from John's 5th save, Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa) 05, May, 2018; (right) John named to the Midwest League's Eastern Division All Star team

(left) Boxscore from John’s 5th save, Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa), 05, May, 2018; (right) John named to the Midwest League’s Eastern Division All Star team, Quad-City Times, 07, Jun, 2018.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Oct 18, 1991

Tom Havens signing with the Athletics. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Oct 18, 1991

While — according to Baseball Almanac — no Yellowjacket has ever played in the major leagues, John may well be the first. Already, he’s eclipsed the minor league career of Tom Havens. Not drafted, Havens signed with the Oakland A’s in October 1991 and played one season for the now-defunct Madison Muskies of the Class A Midwest League.

Nonetheless, Tom may have had the greatest collegiate career of any Yellowjacket. During his storied career, Tom was as a four-year starter in centerfield from 1988-1991, named MVP of the Hall of Fame Tournament 1989-1990, three-time ECAC Upstate NY All-Star Team, three-time All-UAA team, two-time First team All-Northeast, first team Division III, American Baseball Coaches Association First Team All-America, 1991 NCAA Division III Batting Champion with an .541 average, ranks first for UR all-time in home runs (33) and RBIs (157), ranks second all-time in hits (191) and runs scored (151) and third all-time in batting average (.400) and in 1991 set single season records in batting average (.541), RBIs (54), slugging % (1.063), and total bases (118).

(left to right) 1988, 1989

Tom Havens (left to right) UR baseball team, 1988, 1989, 1991. From UR Yearbook, Interpres [Held at and scanned courtesy of Rush Rhees library]

Democrat and Chronicle, Apr 21, 1988

The D & C chose a rare inglorious moment in Tom’s career as the ball bounced off his head and into stands. Democrat and Chronicle, Apr 21, 1988

I especially remember Tom because in his senior year, 1991, I was taking graduate courses at the University of Rochester.  There was a palpable buzz at Towers Field as baseball fans watched Tom reached the astronomical heights of a .541 batting average.

Tom Havens in center field. For UR Yearbook, Intrepes, 1992

Tom Havens in center field. From UR Yearbook, Interpres, 1992 [Held at and scanned courtesy of Rush Rhees library]

Set below the dorms (hence Towers Field), the diamond is nestled, saucer-like, at the base of the slopes where fans can enjoy a fine view with the Genesee River glinting in the distance. A while back, a bright green artificial surface was installed, allowing for true hops, crisp play and an emphasis on speed. As seen in Over 10,000 fungos later, for decades my friends and I would hit fungos on Fauver Stadium’s artificial turf and then take batting and infield practice at the then-real grass of Towers.

Towers Field, University of Rochester [Photo: David Kramer, 12/29/18]

Towers Field, Brian F. Prince Athletic Complex, University of Rochester [Photo: David Kramer, 12/29/18] See Over 10,000 fungos later

 I distinctly remember one bright Saturday in May 1991 when I took a break from the library to join hundreds in watching parts of a doubleheader in which Tom and company swept Union.

Democrat and Chronicle, Saturday May 04, 1991

Democrat and Chronicle, Saturday May 04, 1991

By sheer coincidence, after leaving the University of Rochester Tom and I both were in Madison, Wisconsin: Tom as an outfielder/third baseman for the Muskies and myself as an English Master’s Degree candidate at UW.

Tommy John, 1986 Fleer.

Tommy John, 1986 Fleer. [From David Kramer’s collection]

The Muskies only existed for 11 years and Tom would play in their second to last season. In their time, the Muskies produced several successful prospects for their home team the A’s, including Jose Canseco, Terry Steinbach, Scott Brosius and Walt Weiss.  In 1985, Tommy John pitched one rehab start for the Muskies.

Wisconsin State Journal, Jul 22, 1985

Wisconsin State Journal, Jul 22, 1985

(left) 1983 Madison Muskies Fritsch #13 Jose Canseco (Beckett Marketplace); (center) Madison Muskie Ozzie Canseco, brother of Jose Canseco, 1986 (BestSportsPhotos.com); Tommy John, 1986 Fleer. That year John pitched one rehab start for the Muskies [from David Kramer's collection, scanned courtesy of the Brighton Memorial Library]

(left) 1983 Madison Muskies Fritsch #13 Jose Canseco (Beckett Marketplace); (center) Madison Muskie Ozzie Canseco, brother of Jose Canseco, 1986 (BestSportsPhotos.com); Tommy John, 1986 Fleer. That year John pitched one rehab start for the Muskies [from David Kramer’s collection, scanned courtesy of the Brighton Memorial Library]

1992 Madison Muskies FleerProCards #1242 Tom Havens - NM-MT (Amazon.com)

1992 Madison Muskies FleerProCards #1242 Tom Havens – NM-MT (Amazon.com)

Tom did not have an overwhelming year, batting . 209 in 234 at bats. Actually, if Tom had played in this era, Oakland’s GM, Billy Beane of Moneyball, would have like his power, 8 homers, and .700 OBP with 44 walks and 11 HBP.

That August and beyond, I was dating a fellow English graduate student, Debra Beilke. Debra was from Oshkosh, WI and when growing up sometimes attended Muskie’s games at picturesque Warner Field.

993, Warner Park, Madison, Wisconsin. 1993 was the last year of the Muskies' existence. (Madison.com)

1993, Warner Park, Madison, Wisconsin. 1993 was the last year of the Muskies’ existence. (Madison.com)

(Debra Beilke (left) with David Kramer, Franklin Street Apartments, Madison, WI, August 1992

Debra Beilke (left) with David Kramer, Franklin Street Apartments, Madison, WI, August 1992

One carefree August evening, Debra and I went Warner Park, that night swept by a hot summer breeze.   Along with 2,616 other fans, we ate Wisconsin bratwurst and drank Leinenkugels and watched Tom pursue his field of dreams, a year or so removed (as was I) from Towers Field.  According to Muskie’s Manager Dickie Scott, Tom had “turned it up a notch” and that night Tom crushed a two-run double into the 20 mph wind.

Wisconsin State Journal, August 2, 1992

Wisconsin State Journal, August 2, 1992.

After our time on the Madison isthmus between Lakes Minona and Mendota, I would go on to a PhD program at the University of Rhode Island while Tom — who had graduated from UR with honors in Economics — would hang up his cleats to pursue a successful business career. Later, Tom donated funds for the Tom Havens ’91 Towers Field scoreboard.

[Photo: David Kramer, 12/29/18]

[Photo: David Kramer, 12/29/18]

Photo provided by University of Rochester Director of Athletic Communications

University of Rochester’s John Ghyzel pitching in his freshman season, 2015. Photo provided by Dennis O’Donnell, University of Rochester Director of Athletic Communications.

SEE ALSO ON UR SPORTS As the University of Rochester’s Fauver Stadium moves forward, its rich football tradition lives on

2016 Rochester Open a smash hit at the Robert B. Goergen Athletic Center. And the debut of ZOOM.

trophies-new

University of Rochester’s Robert B. Goergen Athletic Center, 10/30/16. From 2016 Rochester Open a smash hit at the Robert B. Goergen Athletic Center. And the debut of ZOOM.

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