Bowling Green baseball alumni hoping to save baseball

Led by a group of alumni, efforts are being made to save Bowling Green’s baseball program.

After a shocking announcement from Bowling Green State University that the Mid-American Conference school would be cutting their baseball program effectively immediately, the race is on to save BGSU baseball in time for the 2021 season.

BGSU is attempting to shave off $2 million from its athletic operating budget in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and became the first Division-I program to eliminate baseball. Since then, Furman University became the second DI college baseball program to be cut, with more schools likely to follow suit in the coming weeks.

Led by a group of Bowling Green baseball alumni and former major leaguers, efforts are underway to save the program, with $1.2 million being raised in just the last few days. The goal is to have $3.5 million in donations ready to present to the university. BGSU athletic director Bob Moosbrugger is not only a former Falcon himself, but he was a member of the Bowling Green baseball team in the early 1990s and played for head coach Danny Schmitz, who has been with Bowling Green baseball for 30 years.

Notable alumni among the group attempting to save BGSU baseball include Burke Badenhop, Andy Tracy, and Jon Berti. Badenhop appeared in more than 400 games across his eight-year MLB career with the Florida Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Boston Red Sox, and Cincinnati Reds. He now serves as a special assistant in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.

Tracy is now the manager of the Cleveland Indians Triple-A affiliate Columbus Clippers and Berti is coming off his first major stint in the big leagues, playing 73 games with the Miami Marlins with a .273/.348/.406 batting line, six home runs, and a 1.6 bWAR.

Since the announcement was made on May 15th, 20 of the 34 Bowling Green players have entered the NCAA transfer portal, with OF Jake Wilson already leaving to play at Liberty University next year.

While MLB fight over dollars, Bowling Green baseball fights for its life.

Despite a 2-11 start to the 2020 season, Bowling Green has produced a 1,646-1,477 all-time record and captured five regular-season MAC championships. The program has produced a long list of major leaguers, including former Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion Orel Hershiser.

As Major League Baseball and the MLBPA attempt to come to an agreement ahead of a shortened 2020 season amidst an ongoing global pandemic, 40 minor league baseball teams face likely contraction ahead of 2021, and MLB reducing this year’s amateur draft from 40 rounds to five rounds, the last thing baseball needs is fewer opportunities for high school and college players to continue living their dream.

Hopefully, Badenhop, Tracy, and the Bowling Green community can come in and save the day for these athletes. The baseball world sure could use an uplifting story at this time.

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If you are interested in learning more about ongoing fundraising efforts, you can email savebgsubaseball1@gmail.com for additional information.