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A Tale of Two Yale Pitchers

Since the National League was formed in 1876, 15 Yale alums have pitched at the highest levels of professional baseball. This year, two young alumni have a chance to make it to the majors: Josh Sowers '05 and Craig Breslow '02.

Sowers, the Ivy League pitcher of the year in 2005, is expected to work for the Toronto Blue Jays in one of their minor league teams. He is the right-handed member of a set of identical-twin pitchers; his brother, Jeremy, is left-handed.


Of the two Sowers brothers, Josh has further to go.

Of the two brothers, Josh has further to go. Right out of high school his brother was a 2001 first-round draft pick for the Cincinnati Reds, but Josh, then an outfielder, went undrafted. Jeremy opted to attend Vanderbilt, and Josh chose Yale. Bulldog baseball coach John Stuper, who pitched in the World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals, says he helped Josh become a “strike-throwing machine.” Sowers compiled a 16-8 record for the Bulldogs and capped it with his standout performance his senior year, going 6-1 with a 2.10 ERA.

The Blue Jays took notice, drafted him in the tenth round, and assigned him to the Single-A Auburn (New York) Doubledays. Josh had “an up-and-down year,” according to Doubledays pitching coach Tom Signore. “He started off very well,” but developed “some kinks in his delivery.” Josh did participate in instructional league during the fall, which indicates the Blue Jays feel he has a future in pro ball.

But not quite that of his twin brother. After Jeremy graduated from Vanderbilt, he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians, who gave him a $2.375 million bonus. Josh received $12,000 from the Blue Jays. Have such things driven a wedge between the twins? No, says Jeremy: “We have a rivalry, but no jealousy.”

Except, perhaps, in one area. “I’m envious of his Yale degree,” Jeremy admits.

Left-hander Craig Breslow almost gave up baseball in 2004. But on July 23, 2005, for one and two-thirds innings, Breslow became Yale’s first major league pitcher in almost ten years—since Ron Darling '82 toiled for the Oakland Athletics.


Breslow signed with the Boston Red Sox as a minor league free agent.

Breslow was drafted in 2002 in the 26th round by the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He started strong, but then seemed to lose steam. The Brewers released him in 2004, and the molecular biophysics and biochemistry major began applying to medical schools. But he also signed with the New Jersey Jackals of the Northeast Independent League—and pitched well enough that he received an invitation to a tryout camp run by the Padres. The team signed him for $1, and in spring 2005, Breslow was working for the Padres' Double-A minor league club in Mobile, Alabama. By midsummer, he had compiled a nice-but-not-stellar 2–1 record with a 2.75 ERA as a left-handed reliever.

Then something unexpected happened. “After a game I was called into the manager’s office,” recalls Breslow. “All the coaches were there, along with Kevin Towers [the Padres’ general manager]. Towers asked, ‘Do you think you can pitch in the majors?’”

One can imagine Breslow’s response.

The call-up was partly the result of being in the right place at the right time. The Padres were playing in Philadelphia, but their Triple-A club was on the West Coast. Breslow was the closest left-handed reliever available. At 4:30 the next morning he flew to Philadelphia, and that evening he made his major league debut in the seventh inning, striking out three while giving up only a single and a walk over his one and two-thirds innings of fame. “It was absolutely amazing—I have a hard time believing it [happened],” says Breslow.

One reason for that sense of unreality was that it was over so soon. The next day, Breslow was back in the minors. But he had impressed the Padres, and they recalled him later in the season. He continued to pitch well, with a 2.20 ERA over 16 innings. According to Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley, Breslow did “a great job for us [last] year. He has shown that he can pitch at this level and has come a long way.”

Over the winter, Breslow’s travels continued. In January, as a minor league free agent, he signed with the Boston Red Sox. He’ll be at spring training, competing for a spot in the Red Sox bullpen. Medical school will have to wait.


Bringing Home an Italian Bronze

On February 20, while this country was celebrating Presidents' Day, sophomore Helen Resor was in Turin, Italy, for a different kind of celebration: Resor and the U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Team defeated Finland, 4-0, for a bronze medal.

Resor’s journey to the awards ceremony began last August in upstate New York, where she competed for a place on the U.S. Women’s National Team, the group from which this country’s women’s Olympic hockey squad would be chosen. She earned her spot, one of 25, and for the next several months, Resor and her teammates had a difficult balancing act. They had to cooperate in a seamless game-winning unit even as they were locked in fierce competition with each other. Only 20 would be chosen for the Olympics. “Every day from August until December 27 was a tryout,” says Resor, a defenseman. “It was very stressful.”

Frequent calls to her Yale coach, Hilary Witt, who had played on the U.S. Women’s National Team, and occasional trips to New Haven to work out with the Bulldogs helped Resor cope. She made the final cut at the end of the year. Although she has missed Yale, victory was sweet: “Getting to the Olympics has been a goal all my life.”

That objective achieved, the defenseman moved on to another goal: preventing them. Resor’s medal is the 103rd—54 gold, 21 silver, and 28 bronze—in Yale’s Olympic history.  the end




Yale’s 15 major league pitchers include:

Craig Breslow '02
Yale’s latest major leaguer.

Ron Darling '82
The last Yalie to appear in the World Series (with the NY Mets in 1986). Now a Mets TV commentator.

Ken Mackenzie '56
An original New York Met, later a Yale coach.

Johnny Broaca '34
Gave up a promising career with the Yankees to become a boxer.

Daniel Albion (“Jumping Jack”) Jones, Class of 1884
Pitched the 1883 Philadelphia Athletics to a ten-inning, pennant-clinching victory.

Edgar Smith, Class of 1883
First Yalie to pitch in a major league game. As a starter for the Philadelphia Phillies, lost 29-4 and did not pitch again that season.

William F. (“Wild Bill”) Hutchison, Class of 1880
Has the most wins of any Ivy major leaguer, but his career collapsed when the National League increased the pitching distance by five feet.

Sports Shorts

Helen Resor '08 was not the only Yalie to take part in the Turin Olympics. Denise Soesilo '10 played forward on the German women’s hockey team. Keith Allain '80, a Bulldog goalie and currently goalie coach of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, was an assistant coach of the U.S. men’s hockey team. Ed Maturo, Yale’s director of intercollegiate equipment, was equipment manager of the U.S. women’s hockey team. Before Turin, Yale had sent a total of 13 athletes and two staffers to the winter games.

The football team voted senior wide receiver Chandler Henley in as captain for the 134th football season, which begins on September 16 at home against San Diego. Henley, a three-year letter winner with a talent for making spectacular catches, was sidelined all last year with a broken collarbone. But he attended practices and helped the younger wide receivers.

The soccer-lacrosse facility will be renovated and renamed the Reese Stadium in honor of Jason Reese '87 and Jonathan Reese '90, brothers who were athletes at Yale and recently made a significant gift towards the upgrade effort, plans for which are being developed. Jason was a lacrosse goalie; Jonathan excelled at both lacrosse and football.

Yale football has The Game; squash has The Match. The annual contest against Trinity—perennially the team to beat—is becoming a championship event. This year’s battle took place on January 25 at home. The men, led by senior Julian Illingworth (last year’s U.S. men’s singles champion), battled hard but fell 7–2. The women held on for a 5–4 win.


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