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Speedster Evan Fox to build on Hall-of-Fame legacy with Stony Brook baseball

Second baseman Evan Fox plays catch in practice on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Fox is entering the last year of his illustrious career with the Stony Brook baseball team. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

With only 90 feet separating him from history, Evan Fox knew second base was as good as stolen.

Like he had done 79 times before and once already that day, Fox stared down Iona relief pitcher Michael Untracht’s front leg like a hawk. As soon as Untracht raised his knee to his chest, Fox made his signature mad dash towards second base.

No throw down was made, but even the strongest-armed catcher in the world was not throwing Fox out. The swipe gave him 80 for his career, making him Stony Brook baseball’s all-time leading base-stealer.

Though Fox never struggled to haunt Iona’s pitchers and catchers before, he did not want to jinx himself that day.

“I remember before the game, we were down in the cages and all my teammates were like, ‘You’re going to break the record today,’” Fox said in an interview with The Statesman. “And I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know guys, let’s not talk about it.’ But in my head, I knew that I just needed to get on base, and I knew I was going to steal.”

Once the record became his, the game paused for an applause break. Fox tipped his helmet to all the teammates, fans and supporters who were there as a “thank you,” then the game — and his dominance — resumed. That day ended with his first career walk-off hit in the bottom of the 10th inning: a run-scoring single through the left side.

Becoming Stony Brook’s all-time stolen base king was always his goal, even before he got one under his belt.

“I remember my freshman year, knowing that stealing bases is such a big part of my game and helping my team win, I kind of knew that I did want to break this record,” Fox said. “I knew that this was something that I could do with my speed and the attributes that I do have. So I think all of that coming full circle and happening at that moment, it felt really good because it was something that I was working towards and it was one of my goals.”

As special as that day was for Fox, those types of games are a regular occurrence for him. The Ballston Spa, N.Y. native is officially one of the best players to ever come through the program, and has achieved that in just three years.

His numbers have gone up exponentially each year, culminating in a .311/.419/.495 slash line, 34 doubles, nine triples, 91 stolen bases in 102 attempts and 131 runs scored. For a 5-foot-9 leadoff hitter, he packs a surprising punch, slugging 13 home runs and collecting 64 runs batted in (RBI) over the last two seasons. He is not afraid to wear one for his team, either, taking 36 hit-by-pitches through his first three seasons.

Last year was Fox’s best collegiate season by far. He played in all but one of his team’s games, slashing .333/.429/.534 with career highs in hits (68), home runs (eight), RBIs (37) and runs (58). He also led the Colonial — now Coastal — Athletic Association (CAA) with 39 steals, the 37th of which broke the Seawolves’ single-season record at Towson.

Fox’s stellar junior year ended with a selection to the 2023 All-CAA First Team. Though it was his highest honor received in college, it was not everything to him.

“I mean, it’s exciting, it’s a great achievement, but I’m just going out there and having fun,” Fox said. “I was just doing what I do, trying to help the team, and it worked out.”

Fox is exactly where he is supposed to be right now. Baseball is a Fox family thing, starting with his grandfather, who would play wiffleball with him in the backyard during his toddler years. Fox’s older brother, Jake, left him with footsteps to follow as a baseball player. His father, Mike, was a pitcher at the University of Connecticut, and later became his travel baseball coach.

Fox was always a fast runner, but living with a baseball family helped him refine his ability and turn him into the speedster he is now. His brother — who is two and a half years older — would work with trainers through his travel team, and his parents would send Evan to do the same.

By athletically training at a young age, Fox’s legs turned into lethal weapons for opposing teams.

“I would get this personal training at such a young age, and I feel like that built a foundation for me moving forward,” Fox said. “That kind of set the path.”

Baseball was always his first love, but his speed carried him to success in both flag football and basketball as well.

“It’s kind of funny, I was actually really good at football,” Fox said. “Back in the day, I was such a little kid, but I was so fast. I would just catch the ball and I was gone; nobody would even grab the flag. Even in basketball, I would drive … I would get so many steals and fast-break layups.”

Fox also played basketball all the way through the end of high school despite typically being undersized. Ultimately, he chose the diamond over the hardwood, but it had nothing to do with his height.

“I just really love the game,” Fox said. “I love the grind. There’s nothing better than when you’re in a game and you’re up at the plate. You’re dialed in, hitting home runs, playing defense and making all these great plays. I feel like none of it really compares to the other sports.”

The most important avenue of Fox’s journey was the Adirondack Heat: his childhood travel baseball team. His father was the president of the organization and eventually signed him up for the nine-and-under team when he was eight years old. Fox played with the team for the next 10 years and was coached by his dad once reaching the high-school-aged teams.

During its tournaments, the Heat played against some of the best young talent in the Northeast and built itself a reputation as one of the top travel teams in the nation. Two of their recent alumni have been drafted: Luke Gold and Adam Zebrowski.

By playing with and against premier talent as a young, developing player, Fox was shaped into an NCAA Division I prospect.

“The competition that I’ve played over those years really helped me prepare, and at that point, I knew that this is what I wanted to do,” Fox said. “I wanted to be a college baseball player.”

During his ninth grade year, the Heat exposed Fox to head coach Matt Senk, which was a match made in heaven. Senk came to scout some of the older players on the team, but Fox’s blazing speed was what he noticed more than anything else.

The next year, Senk actively recruited Fox, bringing him on an official campus tour and giving him a taste of Stony Brook’s culture. Eventually, a scholarship offer came Fox’s way, which was his first.

As fate would have it, it was his only one, too.

“I kind of knew that this place was awesome, and that I did want to be here and that it was perfect for me,” Fox said. “So then when that time came around and I did get that offer, I jumped all over it. I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s get after it, I love this place.’ And now, here I am.”

Once he finally got to campus, he made an immediate difference. By the spring of 2021, Fox’s speed, defense and bat-to-ball ability earned him a spot in the Seawolves’ everyday lineup as a freshman. Fox bounced around between second base, third base and shortstop before finally transitioning to left field, where he started for the majority of the season.

Through his first 16 games, he batted .306 with three doubles, two triples, 10 walks, eight steals and 12 runs. He went into a deep rut once conference play began, watching his batting average dip to .211 by April 25, 2021. However, once the calendar flipped to May, Fox turned it up immediately.

In a home game against Binghamton on May 1, Fox launched his first career home run in the bottom of the fifth inning over the left-field wall. He went 3-for-4 in that game and hit .372 over the final 14 games, finishing the year with a .263 batting average, a .390 on-base percentage and 21 stolen bases in 24 tries. Though he did not receive an All-Rookie nod, Fox won three America East Conference (AE) Rookie of the Week awards.

Playing in 44 games and getting 166 plate appearances on a regular-season championship team was perfect for experience for Fox, which helped him figure the Division I level out.

“I knew college baseball was going to be difficult; everybody’s better,” Fox said. “I think just getting thrown in there and not having seen it, the nerves might’ve gotten to me a little bit. But after those first handful of games, they kind of went away, which is why I think I started to get more comfortable and get better as the time went on.”

By his sophomore year, Fox officially reached his superstar status. He moved back to his primary position of second base after Brett Paulsen permanently converted to first base. Fox picked up where left off towards the end of his freshman year and raked for the entire 2022 season. He slashed .326/.430/.546 with a career-high 14 doubles and five triples while stealing 31 bases in 33 attempts.

His combination of elite offense and high-quality defense helped Stony Brook capture the 2022 AE regular-season title, ending the program’s tenure there with another banner.

Not only did Fox’s freshman experience prepare him for his sophomore breakout, but some mechanical adjustments helped put him over the top.

“I knew what I was getting myself into, and I knew I was going to be one of the guys,” Fox said. “I made some changes to my swing. If you look, my stance shortened up, I stood more upright, my hands got a little higher. It pretty much put me in a good spot to be confident for that year.”

After following up his breakout campaign with his aforementioned historic third year, Fox is another great year away from potentially being a top-10 hitter in the University’s history.

He is 63 hits shy of the 10th all-time spot and 51 runs scored away from breaking the record. Fox is also just 11 doubles and three triples — which he averages per season — away from reaching top-10 status in those categories, too. If he were to collect 39 RBIs, which is two more than his 2023 total, he would also move into the top 10 in Stony Brook history. Nine more stolen bases would make him the school’s first member of the 100 steals club.

However, those numbers are not his goals this year, per say. He wants to get drafted in the 2024 MLB Draft. In order to achieve that, he and associate head coach Jim Martin believe that 10 home runs and 40 steals may be the magic combination to get him selected.

Other than that, Fox just wants to win.

“I would love to make it to the conference tournament,” Fox said. “We haven’t really gotten the chance to play in the postseason, which is when it’s the most fun. So making the tournament and winning the CAA is the ultimate goal.”

If the professional route and the draft do not work out, Fox wants to get into coaching, like his father. In fact, he wants to do it here.

“I just love the game so much and I want to stay with it as long as I can,” Fox said. “I love this program. They’ve done so much for me. It’s been so much fun and I’d love to continue and stay here because Stony Brook really is like my home.”

Fox’s farewell season will begin on Friday, Feb. 16 when the Seawolves take on Purdue down in Sugar Land, Texas.

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About the Contributor
Mike Anderson, Sports Editor
Mike Anderson is the Sports Editor at The Statesman. He is a senior majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports comes from his time spent as a baseball player. As a reporter for The Statesman, he has covered baseball, softball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men's and women's lacrosse, women's volleyball and hockey. He has also interned at Axcess Sports as a high school and college baseball and softball reporter. He is a local product from Port Jefferson, N.Y. and is a diehard Mets, Jets, Nets and Islanders fan.
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