Walk-on slugger Larrow It’s easy to root for Kyle Larrow
earns Crimson respect
He was deemed too small to play freshman baseball at Boston College High and he wasn’t good enough with a bat to make the junior varsity the following year either. It was only after another player became academically ineligible that Larrow was given the team’s last uniform.
But at the very least, the Carver resident brought a vibrant, you-first, me-last personality and an engine that never seemed to stop running.
As BC High coach Norm Walsh said, there’s always room on the team for a player like that.
Now, five years later, Larrow has successfully walked onto the baseball team at Harvard, spent two years as a reserve before an injury presented him with a starting gig this spring (when he hit .350) and was named a cocaptain heading into next season.
“When we’re doing our recruiting at Harvard, and I’m bringing somebody in to take a look at the school for a 48-hour visit, I want to make sure he meets Kyle,” said Joe Walsh , who has been at the helm of the Crimson program for 17 years.
As if walking onto a Division 1 athletic program isn’t difficult enough, Larrow, who turned down a full academic scholarship to Boston College to attend Harvard, didn’t have any of the physical attributes that scream “must-have” to baseball coaches.
He’s listed at a stunningly-average 5-feet-11, 170 pounds. And while a powerful swing might have opened some eyes, Larrow instead drew comparisons to the light-hitting David Eckstein .
Joe Walsh kept Larrow anyway, if only because “when he comes to a ballgame, as soon as he gets off that bus, his motors are running. And it’s hard to find guys like that.”
Larrow didn’t play much his first two years, but after suiting up in the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League last summer, he finally found his groove at the plate.
“There’s that feeling in baseball when you go for 3 for 3 and you step up for your fourth at-bat, you know you’re getting a hit,’’ Larrow said. “I always said if you find a way to keep that feeling all the time, you’d be a much better baseball player.”
That feeling – also known as confidence – never left Larrow.
His teammate and roommate, pitcher Zack Olson , said it was like Larrow got hot and stayed hot all season. Larrow hit .350 in just more than 100 plate appearances; and his .425 on-base percentage led the Crimson among players with at least 20 at-bats.
Before most games, Larrow can be found jogging from deep left field to the right field corner, in what looks like a warm-up. But that’s Larrow’s thinking time.
He looks inside his hat and sees four sets of initials: for his late grandmother and cousin, his former teammate from Wareham, Ben Harris , who was paralyzed in a plane crash, and 5-year-old Alex Wawrzyniak of Marshfield, who has a pilocytic astrocytoma low-grade glioma (a type of brain tumor) and is always seen around Harvard games or practices.
Larrow and Wawrzyniak have formed a special relationship.
“I can’t say specifically for Alex whether Kyle has had an effect on him,” said Olson. “But I can absolutely imagine that he has. With Alex’s condition, he might not be able to see you when you’re talking to him, so it’s been tough for him to get to know names. But Kyle is one of the names he knows and asks for and looks for.”
With Larrow’s likeability, Norm Walsh thinks he would make a great sports agent. But if his bat never cools down, why couldn’t he just play professional baseball?
“I would never underestimate that kid,” said Joe Walsh. “Does he have the tools pro scouts are looking for? No. But if you’re’ looking for a winner, that’s the guy you want.”
Sophomore Jake McGuiggan of Hingham also had a terrific season at shortstop for the Crimson (12-30), hitting .352 with two home runs and 21 RBIs in 37 games.
He was the Ivy League Player of the Week in mid-April and went 4 for 5 with a double and two RBIs in a Beanpot win over Boston College on April 10.
Hutchinson wraps up
Mass. Maritime career
Pembroke’s James Hutchinson started feeling a bit empty after completing his final athletic event at Massachusetts Maritime Academy last weekend. The senior earned a fifth-place finish at the New England Division 3 Outdoor Track Field Championships with his heave of 54.91 meters in the javelin. Hutchinson was also a four-year defensive lineman for the Buccaneer football team, earning all-conference honors last fall.
“I’m suddenly really bored,” he said. “It’s weird being all done. I really hope I left an impact; just trying to get these guys to have the correct work ethic while working smart instead of just working hard.”
At the academy’s senior awards’ banquet held Wednesday, Hutchinson was the recipient of the Trustees Award, which is presented to a male senior student-athlete who best exemplifies the spirit and philosophy of Division 3 athletics.
Stonehill excels in
class, sports balance
Stonehill College is one of 24 institutions to receive the first Division 2 Presidents' Award for Academic Excellence, honoring athletic programs with four-year academic success rates of 90 percent or more. The college ranks second nationally with a 98-percent academic success rate (the national average is 72 percent), trailing only fellow Northeast-10 Conference member St. Michael’s.
Women’s lacrosse coach Katie Conover, a Stonehill alum from Milton, believes that the administration, along with the student-athletes, have created the proper balance in meeting the challenges in the classroom and out on the field.
“I remember there are certain times in the year when you need a break,” she said. “Sometimes you just need a day off. I think I like to stay really in tune with my players and know where they’re at. Because they’re balancing a lot of different interests.”
Jason Mastrodonato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.