Things working out well for ex-Tiger star Young
Faces BlueClaws today, graduates Princeton Tuesday
Chris Young left the Princeton basketball team after his sophomore year to turn pro. No, not as a 6-foot-10 center banging Shaquille O’Neal beneath the basket, but as a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system. Oh, and he stayed in school too. At Princeton.
“After I signed, I stayed in school most of my junior year,” Young said yesterday at FirstEnergy Park before the Hickory Crawdads played the BlueClaws. “Got a late start in baseball last year because I stayed in school. This year, went back to school in the fall, left school in the middle of the second semester in March to go to spring training and started playing full time.”
But every day after baseball, Young returned to his room to study and complete his assignments. His diligence will pay off Tuesday, when he joins his graduating class at Princeton’s commencement exercises.
“I e-mailed my work back to my professors along with my senior thesis,” said Young, who earned a degree in political science. “I wrote it on racial attitudes and stereotypes and how they were affected with the integration of baseball by Jackie Robinson in 1947. I had to relate it to baseball, or else I would’ve lost interest.
“So for a couple months there, it was some tough times. I’m sure I wasn’t the typical baseball player, going back to my room and studying during spring training, but it was worth it. I graduated in four years, so the way things turned out couldn’t be better.”
This weekend couldn’t be better. The Crawdads finish up a seven-game road trip with today’s game, and Young is the starting pitcher. They have a day off tomorrow, and Young will miss Tuesday night’s game in Hickory, N.C., to attend graduation.
“This series has worked out unbelievably,” said Young, who will have dozens of friends and family members in attendance today. “I get to commute back and forth during the day to be able to see some of the stuff that’s going on on campus right now. I’ll have all day Monday to hang out at school. Throwing the last game here
won’t affect my rotation. Things couldn’t work out any better.”
Young, who received a $1.65 million signing bonus, is rated by. Baseball America as the 10th best prospect in the Pirates’ organization. After going 5-3 with a 4.13 ERA in 12 starts in 2001, Young is 6-3 with a 2.57 ERA this year. He ranks second in wins, just one off the lead; is tied for eighth in ERA with Lakewood’s Seung Lee, and is fourth with 65 strikeouts in 56 innings. Now he can really concentrate on baseball.
“I enjoyed school, but it’s nice to have it behind me,” Young said. “I’m not going to miss school. I’ll miss the fun, the social part — friends. But in terms of the school work, I’m not going to miss that too much. It’s nice to have that behind me and I can concentrate 100 percent on baseball. It’s a big relief.”