Boston College, like Boston itself, has always had a place in its heart for America’s pastime: baseball. BC’s team has had a long history full of homers and strikeouts, both on and off the field.
In January of 1920, BC appointed David White, who had been the assistant coach for BC’s football team the previous season, as head coach of the baseball team. Despite his experience as a pitcher for the then-New York Giants and the team’s rosy outlook for a championship run, White resigned suddenly in April of that same year. An article in The Heights speculated that his resignation stemmed from the “dissatisfaction [that] existed, owing to the poor showing of the team, which is a squad of much better calibre than those of the last few years.”
In May of the same year, BC’s radio club set up a telephone pole near the field so that it could have one member phone details about the game to another member, who then would broadcast them from the radio room in a different location on campus.
“The club is to be complimented on its fine work as this is only another means of ‘Boosting B.C.,'” the editorial read.
In 1922, a small ad in the paper implored students not to fail to attend the opening game, perhaps in response to a few turbulent years of baseball.
In 1925, a comic strip featured a player with “southern teams” emblazoned on his jersey telling a BC player that he’d been playing baseball all winter thanks to the warm weather. The BC player in the strip responds by threatening to send the southern player’s fastball “sailin’ straightern’ the Mason-Dixon line, over the snowy cotton fields.”
During Easter break of 1927, the team left for a pre-season series to take on the boys down south. It traveled to Annapolis via a two-day boat trip for the first athletic contest between BC and the Naval Academy in years.
“They have one of the most promising ball clubs of the eastern colleges and desire to test their mettle with the much heralded Eagles,” the article said of the Naval Academy’s team.
More recently, BC undergrads Ken Carty, John Valente, and Mark Tarallo represented the University in ESPN’s “Boardwalk Baseball” trivia game in 1988.
BC met Duke on the field for the first time in April of 2006, but it went 1 for 2 in the series. Baseball season in general was featured as a “thumbs up” in the Opinions section’s Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down section anyway.
“While other things in our lives may change from April to October, we can always count on baseball to be there,” it said. “Besides, there’s nothing like a summer afternoon at Fenway.”
BC has always had a special relationship with America’s most beloved ballpark. The football team played its home games there until 1958, and in 2006, the baseball team won its Beanpot there by beating Harvard 10-6.
Since 1993, the Eagles have played a pre-season exhibition game against the Red Sox. The closest BC has ever gotten to beating the pros was in 1999, when the Eagles led the Sox 3-1 until the ninth inning, when a two-run triple put the Sox ahead.
BC kicked off its sesquicentennial year with a Mass at Fenway Park in September of 2012. Nearly 20,000 people attended the Mass, including 100 members of the Jesuit community.
“I look out, and it occurs to me that Red Sox Nation has become Jesuit land,” joked University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., who led the Mass.
In May of 1997, BC’s own diamond at Shea Field was renamed in honor of Eddie Pellagrini, who coached the team from 1957 to 1988. He led the team to a total of 359 victories and to three College World Series appearances during his career.
After the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007, BC’s baseball and softball teams paid tribute to the victims. The baseball players wore caps that featured the school’s VT logo on them, and the softball players wore orange ribbons, Virginia Tech’s school color, in their hair during a game.
In 1931, Francis McCrehan became the first of BC’s head baseball coaches to have attended BC and played on the team himself.
“Many of the applicants had the edge over the new coach in the matter of experience, but those in this class were not graduates of the college,” Ed Hurley wrote. “The splendid success of the graduate coaching idea in football has brought about this change in Boston College athletic program.”
In 2010, BC named another graduate and former player as head coach. After a stint in the Red Sox’s minor league system and as BC’s assistant baseball coach, Mike Gambino stepped into the role in 2010. That year, the Eagles went on a nine-game winning streak. Gambino is currently in his fourth year as BC’s head coach.