The 2017 season will be Olivet alumni, Ben Zobrist’s 12th and final season in the Major Leagues. Zobrist has spent his Major League career playing for the Tampa Bay Rays, and now as the second baseman and outfielder for the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.
Athletic Director, Gary Newsome said, “We are proud to announce that Ben Zobrist, will be Olivet’s new head baseball coach. He will takeover as head coach at the end of the 2017 season.”
Newsome also went on to say, “When I first learned that Ben was thinking about retiring I talked to him about the possibility of coming back to Olivet and joining our coaching staff. He was very interested and we were very excited about that prospect.”
Last week, the conversation became more serious when current head coach, Todd Reid told Newsome that he had accepted the head baseball coaching position at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
“ We are sorry to see Todd leave, but wish him well. Being the head coach at Vanderbilt is a great opportunity for any college baseball coach. Knowing that this was probably Ben’s last season, I called him to officially offer him the job as head coach, “ said Newsome.
The decision wasn’t an easy one for Zobrist. He loves the game and his time playing for the Chicago Cubs has been amazing. However, after David “Grandpa” Ross retired at the end of the 2016 season, Zobrist became the “old man” on the team.
Zobrist said, “I am currently, the oldest on the team. These young players are 7-10 years younger than me, and I feel like it’s the right time for me to step down. I have suffered several minor injuries that have sidelined me over the past few years and I am not recovering as quickly as I used to.”
During the 2015 season, Zorbrist was sidelined with a torn medial meniscus in his left knee. Most recently, during this year’s spring training, he has been sidelined with an “unmanageable” neck injury. This has left fans wondering when he will be on the field again.
“At this point we aren’t worried about this being a career ending issue. We are being cautious and using the rest of spring training as a time for Ben to heal,” Chicago Cubs, Coach Joe Maddon said. “His veteran leadership on the team is something that the young players need. We will be sad to see him leave, but he needs to do what is best for him and his family.”
“I am looking forward to my return to Olivet, a community that helped me become the person I am today. As a kid, playing in the World Series and being MVP were dreams that I would never have believed would come true. God has blessed my career and me. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for the next chapter of my life,” Zobrist said.
Students, players, and coaches are excited to have Zobrist returning to ONU.
— Shelby Small, the basic writer