Twelve members of the top-ranked
baseball team closed out their undergraduate careers in
style on Tuesday as the university came to bat for a group
of seniors with a graduation day conflict.
The Blue Jays, who finished the regular season with a
historic 37-2 record, earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA
Division III Baseball Mid-Atlantic Regional and were
scheduled to face sixth-seeded Juniata College on Thursday,
May 20--the same day as commencement. In response, the
university hosted a rare special graduation ceremony in the
Hodson Hall boardroom for the players and their families
Several members of the university's senior leadership
presided over the ceremony, including President William R.
Brody, Provost Steven Knapp and interim Dean Andrew Douglas
of the School of Engineering. Roughly 140 people packed the
room where the university's board of trustees meet,
including a five-piece brass band and many Athletic
Brody, who dispensed with most formalities, offered a
brief speech to the graduates and then paused before he
issued his parting words.
"And further, gentlemen," he said, "although your
direct and active affiliation with The Johns Hopkins
University is now hereby concluded, I must impress upon you
that beginning tomorrow, and for the next several days, you
will be on official university business. As such, we expect
you to purport yourself in a manner that will not only
bring dignity, honor and respect to Johns Hopkins but will
also reap destruction, devastation and loss on all your
opponents [crowd laughter]. Go Blue Jays [applause]."
One of 12 seniors on the NCAA
tournament-bound Blue Jays baseball team, catcher Doug
Hitchner gets a congratulatory hug after the
PHOTO BY HPS/WILL KIRK AND JAY
In keeping with the event's jovial mood, the band
played "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the
recessional, and each graduate received a thunderous
game-day-like roar when his name was called.
Said one proud parent, "It was a rare occasion for a
rare group of young men."
Head coach Bob Babb could not hide his delight over
"It was wonderful," he said. "President Brody and
[executive assistant to the president] Jerome Schnydman
really did a great job. They went out of their way to
orchestrate this event. It could not have been nicer. Our
players and their families I think, I know, are really,
really very appreciative."
Babb said his players did not express much
disappointment to him at missing the school's commencement
"I think they are glad to be where they are going to
be on Thursday. They've been looking forward [to this game]
since last year, when we got eliminated in the regionals,
and this year's senior class has been there three years in
a row and thinks this is the year they're going to go to
the world series," he said. "I don't think they are
disappointed at all. I think they are glad to have this
ceremony and glad to be among their friends and
Doug Hitchner, the team's catcher, echoed his coach's
sentiments. "[The ceremony] was awesome," Hitchner said.
"It is unfortunate we don't get to hear Bill Cosby speak,
but it was incredible that we got this chance to graduate
together. All day I was thinking about this, and it was
better than expected."
As one parent put it, this graduation ceremony had
"the perfect pitch."
— Greg Rienzi
The team won its game on Thursday, 6-0, and as of press
time on Friday was headed into two more first-round
contests. For the results, go to