Sean Ryan’s roots in baseball run deep. His grandfather, who is in the Boston Park League Hall of Fame, was invited for a tryout with the New York Yankees. His father used to place a plastic baseball glove in Ryan’s crib. And Ryan fondly remembers working on his swing in his front yard when he was 6 years old.
So it is no wonder that the diamond still sparkles for him. “Baseball is special to me because nothing matches the feeling of being up at the plate against the pitcher and doing everything possible to get on base,” says Ryan, a senior who is majoring in economics.
For the past three seasons, the Norton, Mass., native has occupied the outfield of Sidell Stadium, and that deep-rooted dedication to the game has made him a pivotal part of the Lyons’ success.
In 2010, he was named the NEWMAC Rookie of the Year and also earned a spot on the All-Conference Second Team. In 2011, he sustained a season-ending injury but bounced back last season by leading the Lyons in batting average, slugging percentage and runs, while also recording three home runs, 37 RBIs and 30 stolen bases. He was named NEWMAC’s Player of the Year in 2012, as well as an American Baseball Coaches Association Division III All-American (second team), which means that he was recognized for being the second-best player in the country at his position (outfield) in Division III.
The numbers and awards are only part of Ryan’s story as a stand-out player, points out Eric Podbelski, head coach of baseball.
“Sean helps our team beyond what shows up in the box score,” Podbelski says. “His competitiveness and determination not only help him be the player he is, but it also rubs off on his teammates.”
Last summer, Ryan was one of the first players to sign a contract with the Brockton Rox, a former independent baseball team in Brockton, Mass., that joined the Futures Collegiate Baseball League in January 2012. Once the season commenced, the Rox outfielder made his mark by leading all players in triples, while finishing second in batting average and hits, as well as earning a spot in the inaugural All-Star Game.
“The Futures Collegiate Baseball League was quite an experience,” says Ryan. “It was special for me personally because I got to compete with Division I and II athletes. Being able to compete and make the All-Star team as a Division III player was gratifying.”
Ryan has worked hard for his achievements, finding balance between the demands of the ball field and the classroom.
“My experience being a student-athlete at Wheaton has been challenging,” he says. “It is difficult to keep up with the high academic level Wheaton demands along with the commitment one must endure when choosing to play a sport.”
But he has done it. This is his last season with the Lyons, and he expects to build upon the momentum he gained from the Rox before he graduates in May.
He says he intends to apply the same determination that has led to his success on the diamond to whatever career he decides to pursue. He has been intrigued by economics since his very first introductory classes with professors James Freeman and Russell Williams, so he’s considering working in the corporate world with a focus on economics.
But there will always be room for baseball. “I would love to be an assistant coach somewhere because I love baseball, and I feel like I know enough about the game now that I can teach and help people become better players.”
—Matt Noonan ’10