Vantiger ended his time at ISU (1988-91) as the most prolific hitter in school history. A four-year starter in the outfield, the Mediapolis native became the all-time leader in: career hits (271), batting average (.385), runs (215), doubles (59) and RBI (180). Vantiger is also owns the single-season record in the following categories: runs (66), hits (85), batting average (.463), doubles (22) and RBI (73).
"I'm very pleased to be able to do what I did," Vantiger said. "Obviously, I couldn't have done it without the support of the coaches and other players that helped develop me. I came in as a catcher and had never played in the outfield before. With some help, I was able to rise to the task."
It was Vantiger's senior season that may have solidified him as the greatest player in school history. Vantiger earned first-team All-American honors and was an all-Big 8 selection as well, as he led the league in batting with a .463 average. That marked the first time any Cyclone player had hit over .400 twice in a career.
To top off his historic senior
season, Vantiger was one of nine finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, which
honors the top collegiate baseball player.
"That was quite an honor,"
Vantiger said. "I was very flattered being a nominee. Getting flown to
Vantiger was a two-sport star at
Mediapolis and thus had plenty of college options to choose from.
"Coach (Duane) Banks at
While the individual accolades poured in
for Vantiger at ISU, team accomplishments were not as plentiful. During his
sophomore season in 1989, Vantiger teamed up with Mike Bush, who was drafted by
the Los Angeles Dodgers and played football for the Cyclones, to produce a
school-record 36 wins. ISU finished third in the Big 8 but did not advance to
the NCAA regionals. In 1991,
"Pitching was always a concern for us," Vantiger said. "We had some good pitchers, but we didn't have the depth. That hurt us."
The Cleveland Indians following his senior season picked Vantiger in the sixth round of the 1991 MLB amateur baseball draft. Vantiger played just two seasons for Indians farm clubs before ending his pro baseball career.
"I had to make a decision on whether or not to keep going or hang up the spikes," Vantiger said. "Overall, it was the best decision to move on to a new chapter in life."
That chapter was teaching and coaching at his high school alma mater. After one year in Mediapolis, Vantiger accepted the head baseball coaching position at Louisa-Muscatine.
In six seasons at L-M, Vantiger won a Southeast Iowa Conference crown as well as a district title.
However, Vantiger wasn't
completely satisfied with teaching and coaching, so he pursued a master's degree
in engineering at
"It was in tune with engineering and thought I needed to pursue that," he said. "It was a family decision. I also did it for my wife and children."
Since earning that degree,
Vantiger also picked up a master's of business at
He is currently an electronics
hydraulics test engineer for John Deere in
"Obviously, I was disappointed when they canceled the program in 2001," he said.
"Hopefully, (Pollard) can get it back. (Athletics) is a business, and it came down to the budget, but maybe it can be reinstate in three or four years."
Vantiger has corresponded with Pollard via e-mail on his thoughts on the matter.
A group of former Cyclone players, including Vantiger, will meet with Pollard in September when former ISU player Jerry McNertney, who played for the Chicago White Sox, will be inducted into the Iowa State Hall of Fame.
"Overall, I was pleased with my
career and had a lot of good memories," Vantiger said. "I want other players to
have those opportunities at