In the days and weeks leading up to Major League Baseball’s (MLB) spring training, former Big Green pitching star Kyle Hendricks was working out like any prospect. But unlike the rest of the country’s MLB players and hopefuls, Hendricks was also taking four Ivy League classes at Dartmouth, including an upper-level economics seminar, prior to reporting to Surprise, Ariz., on March 6.
Hendricks recently sat down for a video interview with Jessica Chen ’12, the Office of Public Affairs’ Whitney Campbell intern. He discusses why he came to Dartmouth, the difference between college and pro baseball, and why earning his degree is so important to him.
After being drafted in the eighth-round of the MLB’s first-year player draft, Hendricks signed with the Texas Rangers last June. The junior had just led the Big Green to the Ivy League final for the third straight season, and had helped Dartmouth win back-to-back Ivy League titles in 2009 and 2010. He spent the summer of 2010 playing in the elite Cape Cod Baseball League.
Last summer, Hendricks played short season baseball with the Spokane Indians, the Single A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Opposing hitters only hit .169 against him as he struck out 36 batters and walked just four batters in 32-2/3 innings. At the end of the season, he got called up to AA ball, where he started one game and gave up one run in three innings.
“When you’re drafted that high,” says Dartmouth Head Baseball Coach Bob Whalen, “the implied assumption is that the Rangers think, like I do, that he has the ability to pitch in the big leagues. The Rangers were very happy with him last year.”
Hendricks is also an excellent student who is intent on earning his Dartmouth degree. An economics major and mathematics minor, who also tutors his teammates in those subjects, returned home to San Juan Capistrano, Calif., for a few weeks after participating in the Rangers’ post-season instructional league last October. At the beginning of January, he came back to Hanover to take four winter term classes, instead of the usual three. After finishing this quarter, he will be one term away from completing his degree.
“My professors were really great, working with me so that I could leave a little early for spring training,” says Hendricks, who will be taking two proctored exams during spring training.
After classes, Hendricks could be found three days a week in Leverone Fieldhouse, throwing pitches to one of his former teammates. He also spent a good deal of time in Dartmouth’s strength and conditioning facility, Floren Varsity House, lifting weights and following the Rangers’ fitness program.
“I’ve always wanted to play professional baseball, ever since I was a little kid,” says Hendricks, who is attempting to follow in the footsteps of the many Dartmouth alumni who have gone on to MLB careers, including Peter Broberg ’72, who pitched for the Rangers, Jim Beattie ’76, Mike Remlinger ’88, Mark Johnson ’90, and Brad Ausmus ’91. “My dad [John] is a professional golfer and he got me into golf when I was about two or three years old. But I just loved baseball so much more. I could spend eight hours a day out on a baseball field.”