Bauserman Signs, Turns Back On Football (For Now)

It was a tough decision, but Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln's Joe Bauserman decided late last week to sign a minor league contract with baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates. He will not be enrolling -- as previously scheduled -- at OSU to play football this winter. Click here for more details as well as a heartfelt letter from Bauserman to OSU fans everywhere.

As we reported last week, it appeared likely that OSU football recruit Joe Bauserman would sign a minor league baseball contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

That is precisely what happened as Bauserman, a football quarterback and baseball pitcher from Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln, agreed to terms with the Pirates, who had selected him in the fourth round (112th overall) in baseball's amateur draft earlier this month.

All along, the 6-3, 215-pound Bauserman was holding out hope he could become a professional baseball player. He was already planning on delaying his enrollment at Ohio State until January 2005. Now, those plans have been put on hold indefinitely.

"They agreed to terms last Thursday afternoon and he headed down to the Pirates' rookie camp in Bradenton, Fla., yesterday," said Bauserman's brother, J.D. Bauserman.

"I think he realizes you can't do both (football and basketball) and truly be successful. It's just one of those things where you need to do one or the other. I think he thought that if he didn't do professional baseball now the chances of him going pro later on were not that good. I suppose in two or three years if it doesn't work out, he could always decide to go back and try and play football. That would always be on the table."

But J.D. Bauserman said the Pirates made his brother a fair offer and he took it.

"I know I was looking forward to seeing him go up to Ohio State and going to some games up there," J.D. Bauserman said. "I think he maybe could have gone up there and tried to win the punting job.

"If the Pirates had just offered him $50,000, he would not be doing this. Plus, they have agreed to pay for his college. He just had to weigh all of that stuff."

Bauserman, who was clocked as high as 97 mph this season, was 4-2 with a 1.58 ERA while recording 75 strikeouts and hitting .339 as a senior.

He committed to Ohio State last July. But, by design, he did not sign with the Buckeyes on national signing day in February.

Bauserman is a native of Strasburg, Va., where he started as a freshman and sophomore (team was 12-1) at quarterback. But he also had a budding baseball career going and the family suddenly uprooted in July 2002 and moved to Tallahassee.

Bauserman enrolled at Lincoln, where, as a junior, he passed for a school-record 3,004 yards, including 1,200 in four postseason games. He threw for 24 touchdowns and won third-team all-state honors in Class 4A.

He also had a big year in baseball, earning second-team all-state selection after hitting .324 with three home runs while posting a 1.35 ERA and 4-1 record on the mound. He struck out 71 in 41 innings.

As a senior, he threw for 2,000 yards and 27 touchdowns and also rushed for nine scores. He participated in the 2003 CaliFlorida Bowl. Bauserman was rated as the No. 22 overall prospect in Florida and also as the nation's 22nd-best quarterback by The Insiders.

His Statement

Before leaving for rookie camp, Bauserman penned the following as a statement for OSU fans.

To all Buckeye Fans:

As you may know, I have agreed to a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. I have chosen to pursue a professional baseball career at this time. Although I was looking forward to playing at the ‘shoe, playing pro baseball is an opportunity that I couldn't pass up.

I want to first say thank you to all the fans of Ohio State University Football. At different times over the past year I have run into fans from all over the country that have shown excitement in my football commitment to the Buckeyes. They have shown tremendous support and patience with me coming to a decision between football and baseball.

I also want to thank the local media. From the Internet, radio to print media, everyone has respected my privacy and has not inundated me with unreasonable requests or demands. They treated me with fairness and that's all I could ask for.

Finally, I want to thank Coach Tressel and his staff. They have been very supportive of this process and have allowed me to make a tough decision on my own. They never pressured me and have been fully supportive throughout the past year. Ohio State University is lucky to have a coaching staff of such quality and integrity.

Coach Tressel has left open the door for me to eventually become a Buckeye. Today, I am a Pittsburgh Pirate. However, tomorrow I might be a Buckeye. We will see. No one knows what the future holds.

Good luck to the Buckeyes this season.

Joe Bauserman

Buckeye Sports Top Stories