Michael S. Stenhouse '80
Baseball - Hall of Fame Class of 2003
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Mike Stenhouse is one of the most accomplished offensive bats in Harvard baseball history. Mike is tied for first for most home runs in a single season racking up 10 in the 1978 season. He is also 2nd in career home runs with 19 from 1977-79. Mike continues to hold Harvard's record highest batting average in a single season going .475 in 1977 and maintaining career batting average of .422, also the hishest in school history. He also maintains a tie for first in single season triples with 6 and career triples accumulating 12 in three seasons.
Mike's production on the field was recognized off the field as he earned first team All-American honors in 1978 and 1979. Mike won the EIBL batting crown as well as the Charles H. Blair Bat in 1978. Stenhouse opted to forgoe his senior season with Harvard to sign with the Montreal Expos. Stenhouse would play 6 seasons at 4 seasons at the major league level finishing his career with the Boston Red Sox organization.
Remembering Harvard Athletics
How did “Sten” and Harvard end up together? Until receiving a phone call in my high school junior year from then Crimson baseball coach, Loyal Park, I never thought that Harvard University would be a match for my plans for the future. After all, the Harvard mystique held that only the brainiest kids matriculated there. I never considered myself a ‘brain’, and on top of that, how would 4 years in Cambridge help me follow in my father’s footsteps and realize my major league baseball ambitions?
Even after accepting admission, my summer was filled with the dread that I had made a mistake, and that I would never fit into the Harvard ‘intellectual’ scene. But as soon as I met my 2 roommates, each with a beer in his hand after football practice, it all changed for the better. However, the “odd couple” of a professional baseball career mixed with a Harvard degree did make for a rather unique combination, and provided many interesting moments … some funny, some uncomfortable … and often setting me in a different light from my peers – both on campus and on the diamond.
While virtually everyone else at Harvard had lofty career plans to become lawyers, doctors, and bankers … I was going to be a baseball player. While toiling to make applications and taking grad school tests was the norm, I sweated in the batting-cages and the gym, as my post-graduate degree would be earned in the minor leagues.
I recall being begged to speak, representing all the honorees, at the Coaches All-American Baseball luncheon in Omaha, NE at the 1978 College World Series. Was I in the same “baseball” class as eventual big league stars, Kirk Gibson, Bob Horner, and Tim Lollar? Not in my view. But to the organizers, I was a Harvard guy, and that put me in a different “oratory” class. I was petrified.
In my first few months in pro ball, a number of coaches and executives showed unbelievable ignorance by warning me that just because I went to Harvard - and therefore probably could have a successful career in other pursuits anytime I wanted – that I should take my baseball as seriously as everyone else, and that I was expected to work just as hard at my game. Couldn’t they look past the Ivy League pigskin and understand that baseball was in my blood and genes … probably even more than anyone else?
Crosswords … what was a simple way to kill time for others, became a sort of embarrassment for me! I was expected to know every answer. After all, I was an Ivy Leaguer! But I was no better than anyone else. So secretly, I bought word books and practiced countless puzzles in private in order to achieve the level of expertise that was expected of me. I never knew before that there was a “sten” gun.
Coaches, who were amused or intimidated by my education, often challenged me to trivia and other kinds of tests. Again, some in good humor, but some quite threatening – as if it mattered to my baseball career. Even when my playing days were over, mild overtures about a potential front office future were met with the cynicism that I wouldn’t stick it out and would end up on Wall Street where I could earn the really big bucks.
Because I was a Harvard guy, I even got a chance to write the forward of a book, where one chapter was about my less than historic baseball career, and which gave me my most recent knick-name … “# 32”.
But in the end, and despite these minor irregularities, Harvard and Mike Stenhouse were the perfect fit. A relatively naïve guy from a middle-class family and town, I learned much about life from my roommates and teammates. The opportunity to earn letters in baseball and basketball, and of course to work in Dillon Field House – were privileges I will never forget. But more importantly, special friendships and bonds were formed that have lasted to this day. And while I did realize my dream of making it to the Major Leagues, my most treasured accomplishment … counting all the awards, honors, trophies, and milestones compiled over the years … has always been my diploma and ring from Harvard. And now tonight, becoming a member of this hallowed Hall, is an honor that as a young man, I could never have imagined. Congrats to all inductees, and many, many thanks to all of you who have shared this “memorious occasion” (family joke) with me and my family, who have always been there to provide inspiration and support.