William Bennett Crockett '02

Baseball | Class of 2017


Harvard Athletic Achievements

All-America first team (2002)
2-time All-America honorable mention (1999, 2001)
Ivy League Pitcher of the Year (2002)
Ivy League Rookie of the Year (1999)
All-Ivy League first team (2002)
2-time All-Ivy League honorable mention (1999, 2001)
William J. Bingham Award recipient (2002)
Ranks 1st in career strikeouts (254)
Threw Harvard’s last no-hitter in a 10-0 win versus Dartmouth
4-year letterwinner
Captained 2002 baseball team
 

Remembering Harvard Athletics

It is incredibly humbling to be inducted as a member of the 2017 Hall of Fame class.  An honor like this provides a chance to reflect on my Harvard experience and the impact it has had on the rest of my life. 

My path to Harvard was hardly inevitable or foreseen after applying to twelve schools, yet from my early conversations with Coach Walsh to my official visit on campus, I knew this place was special beyond its academic reputation.  On my campus visit, it certainly wasn’t the exciting events or experiences that drew me to Cambridge (watching the movie “Sphere” at Alewife theatre and a 7am practice the next day), it was the people.  Everyone I met seemed to have diverse backgrounds and impressive accomplishments, yet were also down to earth and shared similar beliefs on how the game should be played.  It was clear that Coach Walsh set the tone for the team by assembling a relentless group of players who were passionate about the game and had no fear.  I knew immediately that I wanted to be part of it, but didn’t fully appreciate the lifelong influence it would have. 

When I set foot on campus in 1998 and started fall practices, it was apparent that I had become a member of a remarkable program that was built on a foundation of those who came before us.  Their recent national success wasn’t accidental.  The team was laden with talented upperclassmen, affording all of the freshmen the luxury of just fitting in, playing a role, and learning from the great leadership already in place.  We couldn’t have predicted that by the end of the year almost all of us would have a part in the team’s run through the Ivy League, capped by Faiz Shakir’s ’02 championship winning hit.  Four years later it was our turn as seniors leading the team and it would once again take contributions from everyone to finally repeat as Ivy Champs-- a celebration we shared with many of our closest friends turned die-hard Harvard baseball fans from Mather and elsewhere.  

From the beginning, our class quickly bonded on and off the field.  We were from all over the map, but soon learned how to push and compete with each other, eventually carving out our roles and taking turns leading.  We had a great group of guys.  I was lucky to begin my Harvard baseball experience in Wigg C with Mark Mager ’02, who had endless energy and a knack for the big moment even as a freshman.  Chaney Sheffield ’02 battled his way from missing his first season to earning the win in our final Ivy championship game as a senior, showing admirable resilience.  Josh San Salvador ’02 fought through injury as a senior to finish with a Kirk Gibson-like walkoff homerun, his second of the game, and through it all his self-deprecating humor kept things in perspective.  Faiz Shakir ’02 was a valuable contributor on the field and always offered sage wisdom, and his leadership and communication skills were unmatched.  Javy Lopez ’02 overcame life-threatening injury to return to the field and carve out an everyday role.  Nick Carter ’02 compiled perhaps the best individual season by a member of our class, displaying tremendous physical skill and ability.  By the time Justin Nyweide ’02 had given up swimming to focus on baseball, we had become close friends, competitors in the rotation and a dart board for the other’s teasing barbs.  Each classmate was inspirational in different ways and possessed admirable qualities to learn from.  I was also fortunate to be part of a community that stretched beyond O’Donnell Field.  This group of roommates and blockmates were always there to support and challenge me, and collectively we all grew up together.  I’m proud to say that most of these friendships have stood the test of time.

I am forever grateful to Joe Walsh for bringing me to Harvard as a local kid with a lot to prove.  He challenged me from day one, empowered me to take ownership of my career, and showed us all what it means to be passionate about something you love.  I’m very conscious of how much the experiences he afforded me influence who I am today and shape my personal and professional life.  I truly believe a piece of Coach Walsh lives within all of his players, as his passion and grit will never be forgotten.  While I’m afraid I’ll leave someone out, I’d also like to recognize several others in the Athletics Department who were personally impactful; Gary Donovan, Chip Forrest, Matt Hyde, Marty Nastasia and the entire baseball coaching staff for the incredible passion and dedication they brought every day; Brad Quigley and the medical staff for their remarkable work to keep me healthy and on the field; Paul “Hurricane” McNeeley, Geoff Spies, Neil Murphy, Bill Cleary and others for their support, mentorship and leadership in the Athletics Department.

Lastly, I have to thank my parents and sisters for continually supporting me by instilling confidence, competitiveness, positivity and resilience.  Today I feel extraordinarily lucky to have three wonderful sons, Caleb, Wesley, and Jonathan, and to be married to my best friend, Krissy.  While they weren’t present for all that occurred 15 years ago, they treasure the relationships built during this time of my life.