Jim DePalo '87
Baseball - Hall of Fame Class of 2003
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Jim Depalo was a three-time All-Ivy first team and All-EIBL selection and won Harvard’s highest athletic prize, the Bingham Award, in 1987. Jim came to Harvard from Natick High School where he captained the football, basketball and baseball team and was named the Massachusetts Division I Player of the Year his senior year. He chose baseball as his preferred sport and immediately joined the Harvard baseball team as their starting catcher in the spring of 1984.
Jim swung for a .332 average for his career and is second in Harvard history for career stolen bases with 59 steals. In his senior season, Jim amassed 3 homeruns, 23 RBI, 24 walks, 12 stolen bases and 3 game winning RBI’s. He was awarded the Wendell Bat for the third-straight time in 1987, only the second player to win the award three times in a row. In the summers of 1985 and 1986, Jim joined the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Jim was drafted in the 30th round by the Baltimore Orioles in 1986, but he did not sign with the team. In 1988, DePalo was named an assistant baseball coach at Harvard.
Remembering Harvard Athletics
It is certainly an honor and a privilege to be standing here tonight. I would like to thank the Hall of Fame Committee for this great honor. Being able to attend Harvard and play baseball was truly a great experience. Sometimes it is overwhelming to think that I was part of such a long and storied tradition. I would like to thank my family and friends for being here tonight, especially my wife Linda and daughter Taylor. I would also like to thank my parents, who gave me every opportunity to succeed as both an athlete and a student. I would not be standing here tonight without their many sacrifices over the years. I know it was not always easy, but they supported me 100% in everything I did while I was growing up, and were instrumental in my decision to attend Harvard.
I would like to thank everyone at the University who made my four years so memorable. I have to start with my coaches, Alex Nahigian and Barry Sullivan. As many of you know, Alex passed away a couple of years ago. I learned so much from Alex, both about baseball and about life. It was Alex who helped me get on with my life after I had gotten hurt and been released from pro baseball. Alex did not teach me how to fail, but he certainly taught me how to deal with failure. I could not have asked for a better or more knowledgeable coach than Alex. I not only had the opportunity to play for Alex but also had the opportunity to be Alex’s Assistant Coach for two years. I took away many lessons from that experience and constantly use those lessons in my work and personal life today.
I would also like to thank Jack Reardon, Dean Jewitt, Chet Stone, Dick Emerson, and Artie Clifford. Every one of them helped make for a memorable four years for so many athletes here at Harvard. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time in the trainer’s room due to a couple of injuries. However, Emo was always there to help me rehab my arm both in season and in the off-season as well as to get me ready to play during the season. And what can I say about Chet. If any athlete at Harvard ever needed anything, there was Chet always ready and willing to help out.
After hearing from the Hall of Fame Committee last year, my mind has been filled with so many great memories from my four years here at Harvard. I was lucky to have many great friends and five great roommates during my time at Harvard. They were always there to share in the many great experiences and will always be great friends. I was also very fortunate to have a tremendous group of teammates. When I came in as a freshman, I came to a team that had won the league the previous year but had lost many key players through graduation. However, that year’s group of upperclassmen, including our captain Bruce Weller, Charlie Marchase, Mickey Maspons, Elliot Rivera, Jeff Mussleman, and many others all were tremendous and made that year both a successful and a memorable one. They showed me and all the underclassmen what it was like to be a team and how to be a good teammate. The one common thread of all the teams I played on during the four years was that I also had a great group of teammates. No matter if we won or lost, a Harvard team always played with class.
I grew up not far from here, only about a half-hour down the road. While growing up, I honestly never imagined going to Harvard. When I was young, I dreamed about baseball at a school like Arizona State. To me, Harvard was for only those who were academically number one in their class. I never imagined that I could ever qualify to get into Harvard. Then as I started to get recruited by Ivy League schools in high school, I learned more about the baseball programs. To my surprise, I learned that Harvard had an excellent program with a great tradition and a great coach. However, what made attending Harvard an easy decision was my visit to the school. After watching one practice and meeting the high caliber athletes and people at the school, I knew that this was where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life.
Although challenging in the classroom and on the baseball field, there is no better place to prepare you for the many challenges that life brings than at Harvard. I would like to close by congratulating the other recipients here tonight and wish all the best of luck.