Buckeyes' Meyer Has Baseball Background

Before he tasted success as one of college football's top coaches, Urban Meyer endured a short-lived minor league baseball career that saw the former Atlanta Braves' draft pick struggle on the diamond. On the eve of playoff games for Ohio's two professional baseball teams, we take a look back at Meyer's two-season stint in baseball.

With both the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians playing in postseason games over the course of the upcoming 48 hours, the Buckeye State's traditional fall fixation on football has been temporarily put on hold in favor of October baseball being played by Ohio's two major league teams. And although he's busy preparing for his own team's upcoming contest with Northwestern, both the Redlegs and the Tribe have a fan in Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer.

After all, while it's the gridiron where Meyer has made a name for himself as a two-time national champion head coach, it's the diamond that was the home of his first professional career. Following a senior season at Ashtabula's Saint John High School that saw the 6-2, 180-pound shortstop showcase a .370 batting average, Meyer was selected by the Atlanta Braves organization in the 13th round of the 1982 MLB Draft.

"He was like a stud when he came in for his junior year," Saint John head coach Bill Schmidt told BuckeyeSports.com. "Then things started to take off for him. His forte was he had a cannon for an arm, and playing shortstop, that's what you need. He was able to make all the plays, and I would say his signature play was when he would go deep in the hole at short, round it off and make that throw over."

All of 17-years-old and taken ahead of future major league stars Jose Canseco, Bret Saberhagen, and Kenny Rogers, Meyer headed to Sarasota, Fla. to play for the Braves' affiliate in the rookie Gulf Coast League.

Appearing in 20 games, Meyer compiled just six hits in 53 at-bats in 1982, good for a .170 batting average. Frustrated by his lack of instant success in the minors, Meyer called his father, Bud, to let him know that he was done with baseball, but per his official autobiography, Urban's Way, he was met with the message that there are "no quitters in the Meyer family."

Intent on living up to his father's standard, Meyer headed to Pulaski, Va. to play for the Appalachian League's Pulaski Braves in 1983. Bouncing in between Pulaski and his original team in Sarasota, Meyer only enjoyed moderate improvement in his second professional season, posting a .193 batting average while scoring 13 runs and hitting one home run.

Although it may have appeared to be hanging by a string as it was, Meyer's baseball career was prematurely brought to an end thanks to a case of tendinitis in his right arm, the same one that he used for throwing. It may have been short-lived and largely unsuccessful, but Meyer's father saw his son's two-year stint in professional baseball as a crucial piece to his growth process.

"It didn't hurt him," Bud Meyer told The New York Times in 2007. "It gave him a lot of maturity."

With baseball in the rearview mirror, the former two-sport star at Saint John headed back to the gridiron and Cincinnati, where he walked onto the Bearcats' football team as a defensive back. After years in the Queen City -- the second of which was spent as an assistant at St. Xavier High School -- Meyer took the two-hour trek north to Columbus, where he accepted a graduate assistant role on Earle Bruce's staff at Ohio State.

The rest, as they say, is history.

After accepting his first head coaching job at Bowling Green in 2001, Meyer has amassed an .840 winning percentage that's much more impressive than his batting average ever was. In addition to his two national titles at Florida, Meyer has also enjoyed undefeated seasons at Utah in 2004 and Ohio State in 2012.

His second Buckeyes' squad is currently sitting at 5-0 and is the third-ranked team in the country heading into this weekend's matchup in Evanston. And while Ohio's two professional baseball teams haven't enjoyed success similar to Meyer's over the past quarter-century, both them and the Buckeyes are still alive and well in their quests for a championship this season.


Buckeye Sports Top Stories