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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Baseball Star Joe Nathan Honored

    During this year’s Homecoming celebrations, Stony Brook will induct four new members into the Stony Brook Athletic Hall of Fame. Among the class of 2006 is Joe Nathan, perhaps the most successful player to come out of the Seawolves organization.

    Nathan played baseball for the Seawolves in the mid-90s, when the team was still a Division III program.

    During the ’94-’95 season, Nathan helped lead the Seawolves to a conference championship and the team’s first NCAA tournament invite. The team finished with a season record of 30-8. It was the team’s best showing until that time.

    That same season, Nathan began to catch the eyes of various scouts. Although he played mainly at shortstop and was known for his line-drive hitting style, the scouts saw potential in him as a pitcher. They began asking Head Coach Matt Senk to put him in the line-up as a pitcher so that Nathan could showcase his strong arm.

    To appease the scouts, Senk set up an inter-squad match-up and scheduled Nathan as the starting pitcher. Unfortunately, the game was rained out, but the scouts showed up anyway. They watched as Nathan warmed up and when he was ready to go, the scouts broke out the radar guns.

    Nathan impressed the scouts so much that that same year, he was signed as the sixth round draft pick by the San Francisco Giants. He spent a year at shortstop in the Giant organization before being moved to the mound full-time.

    Nathan struggled for a time in the lower divisions, making his major league debut in 1999, but in 2003, he showcased his potential with a record of 12-4 in relief for the Giants. After that season, the Minnesota Twins were so impressed with his performance that they traded their everyday catcher, A.J. Pierzynski to acquire Nathan.

    The trade has become known as one of the most lopsided deals in baseball as Pierzynski lasted only one year with the Giants while Nathan has become one of the most dominant closers in baseball.

    To date, Nathan has racked up a record of 38-16, moving from middle relief into the closer position. He’s made a total of 119 career saves, including 31 throughout the majority of the 2006 season. With an ERA of 1.82, season and 3.23 career, Nathan clearly displays his dominance on the mound.

    Even more impressive is the fact that he has given up only three home runs in 59.1 innings pitched through this season. With 465 strikeouts, including 82 this season, Nathan shows that his domination is in no danger of faltering. Although he is rarely mentioned at the same level as the likes of Mariano Rivera, Nathan has proved himself to be an invaluable addition to the Twins’ pitching staff.

    Stony Brook will honor Nathan in an induction ceremony to be held on Saturday October 7, in the Goldstein Family Student-Athlete Development Center. In addition to this ceremony, December 5 has been declared ‘Joe Nathan night’. The Stony Brook Seawolves basketball team takes on rival Hofstra that night, and Nathan will be honored for his achievements.

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