Rules of the Game
Baseball is played between two teams of nine players on a baseball field. There are four bases, numbered counter-clockwise, first, second, third, and “home plate.” These bases form a square with sides of 90 ft. called the diamond. The field is divided into two main sections: the infield and the outfield.
Baseball is played in nine innings in which each team gets one turn to bat and score runs, while the other pitches and defends the field. Each inning is broken into two halves in which the away team bats in the “top” half and the home team in the “bottom.” Batters attempt to hit the ball into the field, without it being caught by a defending player or recovered and thrown to first base before he can run to it. Should the ball be caught or thrown to first before the hitter’s arrival, the hitter is “out.” A batter is also out if they get three “strikes.” Strikes are counted each time the hitter swings and misses a pitch, hits ball foul, or if the ball is thrown within the “strike zone” and not hit. The batter may also “walk” to first base. This occurs if the pitcher throws four pitches outside of the strike zone before recording three strikes. Runs are scored when players progress around the bases and cross home plate. Should a hitter hit the ball out of the park, in fair territory, it is a “home run” and the hitter rounds the bases and scores. The teams switch each time the defending team gets three players of the batting team out. The winner is the team with the most runs after nine innings.
Penn State Baseball History
Penn State’s oldest sport, baseball was first played by student clubs as early as 1866. Twelve years later, in 1875, a properly equipped team first represented the university in a game against Milesburg.
Beginning in 1893, Penn State commenced playing a regular annual schedule and for the next four decades routinely fielded a strong squad. In 1931, Joe Bedenk, a former multi-sport standout, took over the coaching duties. During his 31-year tenure he led the program to new heights, including its first ever College World Series appearance in 1952. Five years later, behind the hitting of Cal Emery, Penn State returned to the series and finished second.
Following Bedenk’s retirement in 1962, Chuck Medlar took the reins and guided the team back to the College World Series in 1963 and 1973. Throughout his 16 years as coach, Penn State was a constant power in eastern baseball. As the decade of the 1980s dawned, Medlar turned the team over to Shorty Stoner who oversaw the program as it played in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Under his leadership the team’s winning ways continued as it qualified for the A-10 Conference Tournament in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1989, and 1991.
Since 1993, Penn State has competed in the Big Ten, first under the guidance of Joe Hindelang (1991-2004) and Robbie Wine (2005-2013). After adjusting to the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions won their first conference title in 1996, and reached the NCAA Super Regional in 2000.
Following the 2006 season, the Nittany Lions said goodbye to Beaver Field, their home since 1967. In 2007, they began playing at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. This 5,400 seat facility, located adjacent to Beaver Stadium, is the home of Nittany Lion Baseball, as well as the State College Spikes, the short season Single-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2010, Ben Heath broke Dave Simononis' PSU record for season home runs (17) by hitting 19.
In 2014, under 1st year coach Rob Cooper, the Lions finished the season with an 18-32 record, 5-18 in the Big 10. The squad became only the 2nd team in NCAA Division I history to complete 2 triple plays in the same game, accomplishing the feat against Michigan State at Medlar Field. Penn State finished the 2015 season with an 18-30 record (6-16 in the Big 10). In November, 2015, Penn State traveled to Cuba and played 4 games against teams from National Series, the top Cuban league. The Nittany Lions won 1 of four games, defeating Mayabeque and becoming the first American team to beat a National Series team.
The Nittany Lions went 15-34 in the 2018 season (3-21 in the Big Ten) and did not qualify for the Conference Tournament. Parker Hendershot was named to the All-Conference Freshman Team.
The team finished in 4th place at the Big Ten Championships in 2018, and at the NCAA Regionals fells shy by 3 strokes of qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Greg Nye was named the Northeast Region Men’s Golf Coach of the Year for the 3rd consecutive season (and 11th time overall). Cole Miller became Penn State’s 7th player to be named to the All-Big Ten 1st team, and the 5th to be a 4-time All-Northeast Region selection. Charles Huntzinger was a 2nd Team All-Big Ten selection, and made the All-Northeast Region Team for the 3rd time. Ryan Davis and JD Hughes were All-Northeast selections for the 2nd consecutive season.
Penn State Baseball Coaches (since 1920)
|Hugo Bezdek (1920-30)||129-76-1 (.629)|
|Joe Bedenk (1931-1962)||380-159-3 (.701)|
|Chuck Medlar (1963-1981)||312-141-6 (.686|
|Shorty Stoner (1982-1990)|
|Joe Hindelang (1991-2004)||361-325-0 (.525)|
|Robbie Wine (2005-2013)||228-261-0 (.466)|
|Rob Cooper (2014-present)|
Awards & Titles
College World Series
1952, 1957, 1959, 1963, 1973
-1957, finished second
Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament
1979, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991
Big Ten Conference Tournament
1996, 1998, 2000-01, 2003-4, 2007-08, 2011-12
Big Ten Conference Champions
Advanced to NCAA Super Regionals
Selected Notable Players
- John Montgomery Ward A native of Bellefonte, PA, Ward helped perfect the modern curveball and later played professionally, winning two pennants with the New York Giants (1888 & 1889). Ward is also credited with forming baseball’s first union, the Player’s Brotherhood. For these achievements he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964 (PSU’s only HoF-er). Sadly, “Monte” Ward never graduated from Penn State as he was kicked out of school for stealing chickens.
- Hinkey Haines Captain of the Penn State team in 1921, Haines won the World Series as a member of the New York Yankees in 1923. He also played for the National Football League champion New York Giants in 1927.
- Cal Emery The first baseman of the 1957 team, Emery was named MVP of the 1957 College World Series and helped guide Penn State to a second place finish. He briefly played for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1963.
- Nate Bump (1995-1998) One of Penn State’s greatest pitchers, Bump is the school career leader in strikeouts (352), innings pitched (349.1), and wins (29—tied w/ Ed Drapcho). He also second in starts (52) and shutouts (7). Bump was a member of the 2003 World Series winning Florida Marlins.
- Michael Campo (1997-2000) A tremendous hitter, Campo helped lead the Nittany Lions to the NCAA Super Regional. He holds school single season records for at-bats (261—2000), hits (111—2000), doubles (24—2000), runs (83—2000), and stolen bases (27—1999). Campo is also the school career record holder for games played (219),hits (295), and runs (232). He is 3rd in career doubles and stolen bases, and 4th in triples (12).
- Ben Heath (2008-2010) Heath broke Dave Simononis’ Penn State season record for home runs (17) by hitting 19 in 2010. He was named All-Big 10 first team catcher, e2nd team All-American, and was drafted and signed by the Houston Astros.
- Jordan Steranka (2009-2012) Finished 1st at PSU all-time in at-bats, total bases and doubles; 2nd in RBIs, 3rd in triples, and 4th in homers. Named 1st team all Big 10 and Mideast Region in 2012.