Marshall Thundering Herd baseball
The Marshall Thundering Herd baseball team represents the Marshall University in NCAA Division I college baseball and competes in Conference USA. The current head coach of the Herd is Jeff Waggoner. Marshall currently plays their conference home games off-campus in Charleston, West Virginia at Appalachian Power Park.
|Marshall Thundering Herd|
|Head coach||Jeff Waggoner (15th season)|
|Location||Huntington, West Virginia|
|Home stadium||Appalachian Power Park|
Kennedy Center Field
Linda K. Epling Stadium
(Capacity: 6,200, 300, 2,500)
|Colors||Kelly Green and White|
|NCAA Tournament appearances|
|WVAC: 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931|
Buckeye: 1933, 1934, 1935
Southern: 1978, 1981
Marshall baseball was a winning program right from the start. The Herd won the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (which Marshall helped to found in 1924 as what would be known as the WVIAC) in 1928-29-30-3 under former Ohio State University and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Johnny "Stud" Stuart, then won the Buckeye Conference 1933-34-35 under Marshall and West Virginia University Halls of Fame member Roy "Legs" Hawley.
It would be until 1978 before the Herd won another league title, winning the Southern Conference in its second year in the league and again in 1981. Marshall advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1973 as an independent and 1978 as the SoCon champ, all under legendary baseball Head Coach Jack Cook. Marshall finished as runner-up in the 2008 C-USA Baseball Tournament, falling in the finals to Houston, 3–2, but winning a MU record 30 games without a home field to use in Huntington for the entire season. For the first time since 1994, MU had players drafted in the June 5–6 Major League Baseball Draft with a school-record three being selected, plus one recruit in 2008. Steve Blevins, who tied the single-season wins mark with a 9–3 mark, signed with the Minnesota Twins on June 11, while Nate Lape was drafted by the Colorado Rockies and Tommy Johnson by the Seattle Mariners. Lape and second baseman Adam Yeager played in the Cape Cod League, the premier wooden bat summer college baseball league, for the Brewster Whitecaps. In 2015, outfielder Corey Bird was an All-Cape Cod League selection, then hit .300 for the 2016 Herd and led C-USA in stolen bases. In 2016, Marshall finished second in C-USA by 1/2 game behind Florida Atlantic, and the Herd advanced to the semi-finals of the C-USA Tournament, losing to eventual champ Southern Miss on the Golden Eagles home stadium, 3–2, in the semis and finishing 2–2 in the tourney. The Herd won a Marshall record 34 games (and lost only 21), posted the first winning season since 1994 and made the C-USA Tournament for the first time since 2010. Marshall was 13–2 in the final five series of the year in the league games and swept three in a row on the way to winning eight C-USA series, also an all-time high. Senior Chase Boster became Marshall's biggest winning when he passed both Albie DeYoung and Grant Harper with his 20th win of his career, finishing 8–3 on the season.
Marshall has an all-time record of 1,363–1,532–12 (at end of 2016 season, 110 seasons all-time since 1896).
Unlike most Division I baseball programs, Marshall did not have a full-time home stadium. Due to Conference USA standards, it played non-conference games at Kennedy Center Field, a community baseball field just outside Huntington. Due to its limited amenities for both fans and players, Marshall has played conference games at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, more than 50 miles from campus. Select games were also played at Linda K. Epling Stadium in Beckley, 110 miles from campus. Upgrades to the Kennedy Center Field allowed Marshall to play all its games at beginning in 2019, with the exception of games versus rivals WVU and Virginia Tech, which draw a larger crowd than the Kennedy Center can accommodate and will continue to be played in Charleston.
In 2018, the school purchased land for a new stadium near campus which will fully be adequate for baseball purposes.
- Rick Reed, who pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Kansas City Royals, the Texas Rangers, the Cincinnati Reds, the New York Mets (winning a start vs. the New York Yankees in the World Series) and the Minnesota Twins, winning 93–76 with 4.03 ERA and 970 Ks;
- Jeff Montgomery pitched for the Cincinnati Reds and the Kansas City Royals, and is a member of both the Marshall Hall of Fame and the KC Royals Hall of Fame with 304 saves over 13 seasons, 46–52 with 3.27 ERA and 733 Ks;
- Joe Goddard played with the San Diego Padres in 1972, spent 1971–76 in the Minor Leagues. playing in AAA Pacific Coast League for the Hawaii Islanders for 1974–75 and finishing as a player-coach for the Amarillo Gold Sox in the AA Texas League, then coached Independence High School to a AA State Championship in 1990. Currently serves as an assistant coach with the West Virginia Miners in the Prospect (wooden bat) League in the summer for college players;
- Dan Straily, was a starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds in 2016, then was traded to the Miami Marlins for 2017 after starting for the Oakland A's, Chicago Cubs, and Houston Astros in his career. He is now in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. He was one of the Herd's best pitchers, helping lead the team to the 2008 Conference USA runner-up finish in the C-USA Tournament at Tulane;
- Harry Young, College Football Hall of Fame member, starting pitcher and outfielder for Marshall 1910–12 and starting quarterback/defensive back/punter/kicker for Marshall in 1910–11, playing the first all-collegiate opponents lineup for the then Marshall Normal School (2-year degree for teaching high school, given at Marshall until 1921). Young is a member of the Marshall Athletic Hall of Fame, the Washington & Lee Athletic Hall of Fame, the W.Va. Sportswriters Hall of Fame, the Virginia State Athletic Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta;
- Aaron Blair, 2013 1st Round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks and has split time in 2016 as starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves and the AAA Gwinnett Braves in the International League. He started 2017 at Gwinnett again, but is expected to rejoin the Braves this season;
- John Zontini, known as the "Sheik of Seth" (small town he was from in Boone Co., W.Va.), was a high school All-American with over 4,000 yards as a junior and senior, then became a four-time all-conference running back for the Herd in the WVIAC and the Buckeye. Zontini was an outstanding outfielder, helping the Herd to back-to-back-to-back Buckeye Titles, who in 1935 signed with the Detroit Tigers after graduation and had a 16-year minor league baseball career. He started in 1935–36 with the Class C Charleston (W.Va.) Senators in the Middle Atlantic League, then played for the Beaumont Exporters in the Texas League and the Alexandria Aces in the Class B Evangeline League in 1937 (hitting .341 for the split season, with a .342 at Alexandria in 127 games), the Tulsa Olilers in the Class A1 Texas League and the Evansville Bees (in 1938) in the Class B Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League, the Portsmouth Cubs in the Class B Piedmont League (1939–43, 1945–46), the Jacksonville Tars in the Class B South Atlantic League in 1940, with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Class AA International League (his personal best and playing 121 games), then for Class D Franklin Cubs in the Virginia League in 1948 (also working as the manager of the club) and finished 1949–50 in the Va. League with the Franklin Kildees (1949–50) and with the Suffork Goobers (1950) before retiring.