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Team First

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Catcher helps lead baseball to Ivy championship

To win a baseball championship, it takes all kinds. Singles hitters and sluggers. Power pitchers and base stealers.

While Jack Monahan '09 will freely admit he's none of the above, the catcher from Overland Park, Kan., was one of the linchpins of Dartmouth's 2009 Ivy baseball title win-its first since 1987.

Jack Monahan

Jack Monahan '09 hoists the Ivy championship trophy—Dartmouth baseball's first since 1987—with his team. At right is Head Coach Bob Whalen, between is Nick Santomauro '10. (Photo by Mark Washburn)

"If you compare him to other Division I catchers, he has a below-average arm," says coach Bob Whalen. "He's a below-average runner and I don't think he's ever hit much over .250. But he is off the charts in every intangible that you'd want in a leader and a catcher. He is a coach on the field."

A 2009 co-captain, Monahan helped Dartmouth to a 25-15 overall record and a 16-4 Ivy League mark this spring as the Big Green earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament by winning the Ivy League Championship Series (ILCS) against Cornell. The title came one year after Dartmouth lost the ILCS to Columbia.

"I just remember sitting in the locker room and being so emotionally drained after that," Monahan says. "You put everything you have out there, everything, and it just wasn't good enough. I couldn't take my uniform off. I just sat there for two hours."

baseballFIRST PITCH: President James Wright threw out the first pitch at Boston's Fenway Park to open the Red Sox vs. Rangers game on June 6. A longtime fan of the game, Wright's collection of baseball memorabilia includes this baseball signed by Hank Aaron. 

Click here to read about Dartmouth alumni in Major League Baseball.

That changed this year thanks to a fearsome lineup that in Ivy League play batted .347, a pitching staff whose conference earned run average (ERA) was a whopping four runs lower than its opponents, and an unheralded catcher who calls to mind what legendary sportswriter Stanley Woodward famously wrote of a Brown quarterback named Joe Paterno: "He can't run and he can't pass. All he can do is think and win."

Monahan's reliable performance behind the plate has resulted in an outstanding error-free record since his first-year season.

"I knew I was never going to be a draft pick so I made a commitment to myself to try to be the guy that fills in the cracks," he explains. "You are going to have Nick Santomauro '10 and Mike Pagliarulo '09 driving balls off the wall. And you are going to have guys like Joe Sclafani '12 stealing bases. I just try and do what helps everybody else.

"There were times when I wish I was (batting) in that three-hole," admits Monahan. "But I know that to support everybody is the role I fill. That's what it takes to win. It has to be team first, what the coach tells you, and then yourself. If it's any other way the pieces don't fit."

For Monahan, who hopes to work in baseball after graduation, winning the Ivy title in the team's first year playing on the new Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park makes it that much more special. The facility was made possible by a gift from the late Mike Biondi '79 and his wife Cindy Ginn Biondi '80.

"This is something we wanted to give the Biondi family," he says. "It's one thing to say thanks, but it's another thing to show them in how we play."

The baseball team advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 22 years, but lost to the North Carolina Tarheels and Kansas Jayhawks. Overall, the team's season produced 27 wins, the second-highest result in Dartmouth baseball's history.

By BRUCE WOOD

Last Updated: 1/14/10