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Throwback Thursday: Former Notre Dame Baseball Player, Edwin Hartwell

The Business Developer - Notre Dame Baseball, Class of 1993

Notre Dame Baseball photo by Matt Cashore
Matt Cashore

I have interviewed over 80 former Notre Dame student-athletes over the last several years, and each one is like a walk down memory lane. When I interview people I do not personally know, the interviews become a golden ticket to travel with them on their journey to, through, and beyond Notre Dame. And when I interview people I knew in college, or have met since college, the interviews are so often a laughter filled walk down memory lane. My interview with former Notre Dame Fighting Irish baseball player, Edwin Hartwell, was just that. I figured now that college baseball is back and in full swing, I’d delight you with some Notre Dame baseball stories.

“They called him the Deacon, because he cheered like someone in church.” – Craig Counsell on Edwin Hartwell

For Edwin (Eddie) Hartwell, playing sports at the collegiate level was never really on his radar. His father had explained to him, “If you go to college on a sports scholarship, they own you. But if you go to college on an academic scholarship, you are in complete control of the situation; you always want to be the one in control.” As a result of these sage words of wisdom, Eddie spent his high school years with a primary focus on academics, and a secondary focus on his athletics. While he knew that he excelled at sports, he wanted his ticket to the next level to be based on the merits of his intelligence, and not his athletic prowess. This is Eddie Hartwell’s story.

“When I was about six years old, my father and I were watching the Little League World Series at our home in Pontiac, MI. My father, who was pretty knowledgeable about baseball, had played for a short stint and tried out with the Pittsburgh Pirates, was explaining to me how great baseball is and that these kids are the best players in the country. Then, in the middle of the game, I blurted out that I didn’t think the players were that good, not recognizing that the players were only 12-year-old kids. What did my dad say to me, a kid who at that point hadn’t even played baseball yet? He said, ‘Put up or shut up,’ and I did. I started playing tee ball the next summer for the Bloomfield Beaches and Boats, and I never looked back. My parents got divorced when I was 8-years-old, and I moved to Fort Worth, TX with my dad, who was a middle school English teacher at Wedgwood Middle School. Now as you can imagine, football in Texas is much bigger than baseball. Back in Michigan I had already been playing pee wee football since I was about five years old, so it was an easy transition for me to continue playing football when we moved to Texas for the Ridglea Roughnecks in Fort Worth, but I continued to play baseball as well.”

“When I first starting playing football I was a quarterback, and then I became a running back and a linebacker later on. By the time I got to high school at Fort Worth Country Day I was strictly a running back and linebacker. I never really loved football, it was merely a means to an end. My dad told me, ‘You can play football or baseball, but you need to have strong academics. If you play college football on a scholarship, they own you. Never let them own you. Don’t knock it if it’s your way out, but if you have the brains, and you have the ability to get good grades, you are in control.’ And so from that point on, my main quest was to excel at my studies, and sports came second. Both of my parents were teachers, along with two of my grandparents, two cousins, two aunts, and a sister so that really wasn’t so much my choice as much as it was a dictate from them. If I didn’t get good grades, I’d hear about if from someone.”

“Back then, baseball wasn’t really a big deal, especially not in Texas. I played summer ball, but they didn’t have travel leagues back then. I played against some pretty good players: Calvin Murray (first round pick with the Giants), Chris Messick and Steve Gilbralter. I didn’t play at an elite level until my junior year in high school, at which point I ran into Todd Van Poppel. I actually played pretty well, in both football and baseball, and was getting some looks from some top universities. As far as football went I was being looked at by Columbia, UCLA, the Naval Academy and Stanford. And baseball wise, I was being recruited by Amherst, and took an official visit there. Notre Dame, however, was not looking at me for football or baseball, but I had thrown them on my list for academic reasons. There were some people at my high school who were way into Notre Dame, and ND reached out to me to come visit for a minority recruitment weekend (they were looking for minority kids who had decent grades). This was of interest to me and so my principal signed me up and I took the trip. Notre Dame flew me up there to visit in the spring. When I asked where we were going, and they said South Bend, I thought, ‘Where?’ I had no idea that Notre Dame was in South Bend, Indiana. However, when I got to ND I fell in love with the place. Actually, one of the guys I met on that recruitment weekend ended up being my roommate (Drew Lawrence). We met at Grace Hall, and then when we got our roommate assignments and talked on the phone prior to heading to ND in the fall, we figured out we had already met! We hit it off so well we roomed together all four years in Carroll Hall (Vermin Unite!).”

“The Naval Academy was quite interested in me, and their offer included me doing a post-graduate year instead of going directly in, and I wasn’t interested in that. Amherst made a good offer as well. And then Notre Dame came, and they made me a great offer. Notre Dame’s offer was academic-based, and that was the most appealing to me. I told my dad, ‘I think I’m going to Notre Dame.’ And he said, ‘No you’re not. The Naval Academy is offering you some serious money, you’re going there.’ We fought like cats and dogs about it, and finally, I went behind his back and signed the papers to attend Notre Dame without him. He was so upset with me. On the day of my last summer baseball game, he picked me up and had all of my stuff packed. He told me, ‘If you are adult enough to make this kind of decision and not go to the Naval Academy, you’re on your own.’ He handed me two duffle bags, $200, a plane ticket to my mom’s house and stuck me in a cab. I was still in my baseball uniform, and off to the airport I went. My mother met me at the airport in Detroit, Michigan, and I walked up to her and said, ‘Hey.’ And she said, ‘Hey nothing. Who do you think you are signing papers behind your father’s back?’ She took me straight to Notre Dame 10 days before the official move in date, dropped me off at the gravel road at Carroll Hall, gave me another $200 and drove back to Michigan. She never even came in. Other than about one week after I got cut by the Giants, I never went back home. I’ve been on my own ever since that day.”

After being alone in Carroll Hall with Father Sullivan for 10 days, people started to arrive and school eventually started. Eddie, who had committed to being at Notre Dame on a strictly academic quest, quickly realized he needed a bit more out of his college experience than just academics.

“I was on campus for just a few short days freshman year when realized I was completely bored. Classes finished each day around 2 or 3 pm and I had nothing to do. My roommate thought it was awesome. And it was pretty sweet for the first couple of days, and then after that I thought, ‘This is not going to f-cking work. I’m gonna kill myself without more than just academics. I’m bored out of my mind. HOW ARE YOU PEOPLE NOT LOOKING FOR SOMETHING MORE?’ As a high school student-athlete, I was always busy, and I traveled some playing baseball. I needed something more. Then, on the Saturday of that first week, I saw a sign on the wall in South Dining Hall which read: BASEBALL TRYOUTS. I looked at it and thought, ‘Huh.’ I had my glove with me, because my old man had packed up and given me all of my belongings. So, what the hell. The sign said meet at Loftus, and when I got there, there was a guy sitting next to the water fountain. He asked me, ‘Are you here for baseball?’ And I replied, ‘Yes.’ And he said, ‘Head on down the hall.’”

“If you’re ever late, you’re done. Don’t even bother to come back.” - Coach Pat Murphy

“I walked down the hall and there were 300-400 guys down there waiting for tryouts to start. We sat there for a good hour, hour and a half, and some of the guys eventually started to leave. I’d guess maybe 50-60 guys had left by the time Coach Pat Murphy (‘Murph’) arrived, who was, by-the-way, the guy who was sitting at the water fountain when I came in. Murph walked in and said, ‘Well, now that those guys are gone, we can start.’ And then he proceeded to curse us out for a good hour. He called us everything but a child of God. He told us that we had our heads so far up our asses, thinking that we could walk-on to the Notre Dame Men’s Baseball team. It was blistering. The guy in front of me turned around and looked at me and said, ‘Man, I am so far out of my league.’ Along with another 100 or so guys who also left. Rico Lozano and I were the only two walk-ons out of that whole group who made the team. Murph even made current players, for example Tom Gulka, try out in order to keep their spots. And he made me try out again my sophomore year. Tom, by the way, works for Nike now (Absolutely brilliant guy. He was a Math major at Notre Dame). Tryouts went on for about a week. After each tryout, you got a call in the evening telling you to come back the next day. And Murph told us at the very beginning, ‘If you’re ever late, you’re done. Don’t even bother to come back.’ And so I wasn’t late for a solid week or in the next four years.”

“On the second day, there were probably 180 kids remaining after the first round of cuts. In the middle of the second day of tryouts, Murph proceeds to call the name of every single kid still at the workout, at every position. It was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen to this day. On the last day of tryouts, which was the next Sunday, Murph was throwing batting practice and said to me, ‘Hartwell, come over here.’ At that point there were only 15-20 guys left and he said to me, ‘You’re going to make the team, but don’t say anything to anybody. Just keep doing everything you’ve been doing up to this point. You may not play, but you’re going to make the team.’ On the last day, he told me to come back on Monday and that I had a locker. I showed up on Monday, and everybody was there, and I remember thinking, ‘This is too cool!!’ My name was in tape on my locker, but I didn’t care. I thought to myself, ‘THIS IS SWEET!’ I saw Irv and he said, ‘YOU MADE IT!’ And I said, ‘YEAH!!’ And then at that point I’m thinking, what the hell just happened? I called my father and told him I made the team, and his response was, ‘You made it? Is that it?’ and he hung up on me. He didn’t have much to say to me during my first two years at Notre Dame.”

When you come from a rigorous college prep high school background, such as Eddie’s at Country Day in Fort Worth, you expect to be able to handle the transition to college pretty smoothly, but even the most capable of student-athletes encounter some pitfalls when making the transition to college. That’s where the Notre Dame student-athletes discover the Notre Dame Value Stream. She is always there to pick them up when they fall, offer them a little course correction to get them back on the right path, and keep them moving forward in the most optimal direction.

“It was tough. I was ready for class and the work. My college prep high school was quite rigorous, but doing both school and baseball? It was a lot. That first year we started working out in October and November, swung around in December and January (I lost 25-30 pounds and got in great shape), and then when our season truly started, Lord help us. Things shifted into another gear all together. I looked at Coach Murphy and thought he was insane. He was even nuttier in the regular season than he had been in the fall. He would leave us in the practice facility running for hours. He would even fall asleep in his office while we were out there running or practicing. We got up at crazy hours in the morning in order to have time in the gym to workout. I’d be up at 4 am, and would be at Loftus at 4:35 am running. I’d have my workout in before 8 am, and be back at my dorm where people would be just getting up. Then I’d go to class, go to practice in the afternoon, until 7 pm sometimes. Your teachers didn’t care about your crazy schedule. My Comp and Lit teacher, after recognizing I could write, (thank you Fort Worth Country Day), made me tutor two other guys. Meanwhile all I want to say to her is, ‘Lady, I’m struggling. I just made the baseball team. I’m just trying to survive here.’ And she said to me, ‘Do I care? You have an A/A- in my class, help those two guys.’ I remember having a series of games in Hawaii my freshman year. We left on a Wednesday, and I had a paper due on Thursday. I explained my situation to her and her reply? ‘I guess your paper better be in before you leave on Wednesday.’ What? And so I had to have my paper done before we left. Most of college is a blur to me. I remember some really great moments, but it’s all of the details that I miss. It was a constant go, go, go. One minute I was a freshman, then sophomore year you declare your major, junior year I played summer ball, senior year I was voted Captain, and then the next minute I’m graduating. Life just kind of happened.”

Eddie was a competitive student-athlete both on and off the field in high school, but making the jump to college athletics was still quite a challenge.

“Adjusting to the better pitching you see at the college level is a physical thing. Either you can do it or you cannot. But learning to come to the field, to play every day at a higher level was difficult. In high school, you are one of the better players. But in college and professional baseball, it’s the mental game of baseball that sets players apart. Notre Dame was tough academically, but I felt more prepared than some of the other guys were, coming from Fort Worth Country Day.”

The dynamic between scholarship and walk-on players can sometimes be complicated, but for Eddie, it was pretty straightforward.

“On the baseball team, there really was no difference between the scholarship players and the walk-ons. No, Murph treated us all like shit. I never felt a difference among my teammates either. Baseball is different because you never know who is going to become the breakout or star player on the team. Football isn’t like that. It’s rare that a talented guy (like Rick Mirer) comes to college and doesn’t play well. It happens. But in baseball, that is always a possibility. (Hal Morris was a walk-on at the University of Michigan and went on to play 15 years in the big leagues.) A lot of the guys were like me. They weren’t star players or first round draft picks. They were just a bunch of smart guys who could play ball. We were a bunch of average guys that Coach Murphy beat the shit out of until we didn’t know that we were average anymore. We didn’t know if we were good or bad, we just knew we were players, and that we played for Notre Dame. It never was about going to the big leagues, it was about getting a great education and playing some baseball along the way.”

Eddie was moving nicely through his academic and athletic career at Notre Dame when the unthinkable happened; he got “the thing.”

“One day it happened. I got ‘the thing.’ I’m not sure what brought it on, but one day after my junior year I couldn’t throw to hit anything. I had it bad. Craig Counsell completely had my back that summer, and took batting practice with me every day until I was able to shake ‘the thing.’ He told me, ‘We’re gonna take batting practice, you and me, and we’re gonna do it until you get right.’ I’d throw the ball 12 feet in front of the plate, and he’d tell me, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just keeping throwing.’ And he wasn’t the only one, all of the guys helped me. There would be days when I’d throw eight or nine balls over the fence, but Craig and my teammates hung in there with me, and low and behold I came through it. It was ugly. . . but I worked myself through it.”

The experience of being a student-athlete is different depending on what school you attend. But at Notre Dame, it’s an experience like no other. Eddie talks about what it was like to manage being a walk-on for the baseball team and a marketing major.

“Being a student-athlete is one of the hardest things I have ever done and the most satisfying. At the same time, I would never want to do it again. There just were not any shortcuts; at least I didn’t find any. It was a ball-breaking experience, to put it bluntly. I mean Notre Dame gave no quarter. She was an unrelenting bitch. And today I love Her for it. With that being said, I had some really good professors including Pat Murphy in Marketing and Ward in accounting. Both guys understood what I was trying to do by playing baseball as a walk-on, but neither ever let me take the easy way out.”

Coaches come in all shapes, sizes and levels of intensity. Coach Murphy had a larger than life personality and demanded all he could get out of you, and then he demanded just a little bit more.

“Coach Murphy’s coaching style was very similar to my Notre Dame educational experience. He was a ball-breaking, unrelenting taskmaster, and just like ND, I will love him forever for teaching me to be a professional before I ever knew what was happening. Back then we were a bunch of borderline guys who could play a little. We were molded after Coach Murphy. He had some talent but plenty of toughness. You find out later that his type of makeup comprises most of the people you deal with in life. Most of us are not that talented, but the ones willing to put in the work always seem to move to the next level. There are no shortcuts. The advantage I had coming into pro ball was that I knew there were no days off, and was prepared to meet that head-on. Coach Murphy and Notre Dame had prepared all of us for that scenario.”

Most of us are not that talented, but the ones willing to put in the work always seem to move to the next level.

“To be completely honest, Coach Murphy was crazy. This one time we were playing in San Antonio against St. Mary’s, and in one of my at bats I struck out. He followed me up the left field line just cursing me out the whole time. There was another time when he took out an umpire, who he thought made a bad call. Murph was running towards the umpire at home plate and it was wet from raining. Murph tried to stop but couldn’t and absolutely took out the umpire. He hit him about waist high, and all we could hear was ‘uugggghh.’ It completely looked like a WWF wrestling move. He was nuts. Another time, Mike Coss was playing shortstop. He booted two or three balls in a row and Murph literally threw all of the catching gear out there, and told him to put it on. This was during a game!”

“But on the flip side, he absolutely had you ready to play baseball at the next level. You understood that you had to work from Sunday to Saturday. He didn’t care about what else was going on in your life, you had to figure out how to manage your time on your own. His job was to teach us baseball. Don’t get me wrong, Murph was really good at supporting us in our academics. We had a great study hall, and it really worked for us. The majority of our guys were eligible every season. But it was hard to play for Coach Murphy. If you couldn’t take the harsh comments and cruelty, it could crush you. It didn’t bother me, but my dad was also a very tough guy, so I was used to it. I still thought Coach Murphy was crazy, but it didn’t crush me. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.”

“Coach Murphy was terrified of flying. He’d be all white knuckles, every time we got on a plane. He’s now the bench coach with Manager Craig Counsell and the Milwaukee Brewers. After Notre Dame, Murph coached at Arizona State for a while, and then went to the Padres. He moved around a bit and then two years ago he was reunited with Counsell.”

Any athletic career is filled with an assortment of magical moments, where the heavens aligned, and everything played out just as they were supposed to. Picking just one is all but impossible, but for Eddie, one memory quickly stood out from the rest.

“My favorite on the field memory? That’s easy. We had a series of games against Dayton my senior year where I hit three home runs one game and I think five or six home runs over the two days. They just kept coming. Every time I swung, the ball left the yard, or so it seemed. It was just perfection every time I stepped up to the plate. One of the homeruns was a grand slam and one was a three run homer. I don’t remember all of it, because that series against Dayton was kind of a blur. I do remember, after my third or fourth homerun, I was running around the bases and our hitting instructor, Gary Tuck, said to me, ‘Don’t ever do that again, or I’ll kick your ass!’ And I said, ‘What did I do?’ And he yelled back, ‘you just swung your arms in the air.’ I didn’t even know I had done it. ‘My bad.’”

“That whole year, it seemed like I squared up everything. I hit a .447 that year, and was second in the country. I beat Peltier that year, I think he had a .446. I still hold the record for a single season best average with that .447. I had 13 home runs that year and drove in 65 runs. But that stretch against Dayton in particular, that was crazy. Coming up with my best off the field memory is also pretty easy for me. I won the Outstanding Student Award in 1993. Like I said, that year was a crazy good year. It also was a giant blur. I was working so hard on the field and in the classroom. It was a dream come true, being at the top like that. I squared up balls against guys that were incredible, throwing 97 and 98 mile per hour balls at me and I just spun them. It was just my time. I was totally lucky and got in a good zone. Oh, and the brawl against Butler was pretty awesome, too.” (Edwin Hartwell, his classmate Eric Danapilis and Dan Peltier remain the only ND players ever to post a slugging pct. above .700 and on-base pct. above .500 in the same season.)

“The funniest thing about playing baseball at Notre Dame? People could not believe how bad our field was. When we played at the University of Texas, their baseball field was a cathedral. My friends who played at Texas, when they saw pictures of our field would comment to me, ‘Man, you guys have a shitty field.’ Here’s another funny one. We traveled to play a series at UT. All of my friends and former teachers from Fort Worth Country Day, came to see me play. I get a hit. I get on second and steal third, and I’m feeling pretty good about myself right about then, in front of my peeps. I’m on third, and I get a little too far off the base, forgetting I’m playing college ball and not high school ball. This guy throws a bullet at me and I go diving back to third and I’m safe. I don’t know whether I was really safe or not. Some people said I was, some people said I wasn’t. I get up . . . and I’m covered in chalk. In fact, my whole face, ears, neck, is all covered in chalk, and all of my friends in the stands are just rolling. They literally have to wash me down because there isn’t an inch of black on me anymore.”

For a young man like Eddie who came to Notre Dame to get a top education, and ended up playing baseball only by chance, the opportunity to play baseball at the next level was an exceptionally great added bonus.

“We played our last tournament of my senior year in Florida and lost to Long Beach State. While talking to Coach Murphy he told me that I might get a chance as a free agent to play at the next level. Murph helped me get signed with the San Francisco Giants while we were still in Florida. In fact, it happened the same day that we lost to Long Beach State. I flew back to Notre Dame, packed up my things and got on a plane to Washington where I played Single A baseball for the Everett Giants. It had only been a mere 36 hours since we had graduated and I was on my way. The transition from Notre Dame to the pro level was not that hard for me for two reasons: first, I was ready mentally to play after 4 years at Notre Dame under Coach Murphy; and second, I had no choice. College was over and it was time for me to move on.”

“A lot of guys were lost when they got to the pros because they hadn’t quite realized that it was a job. You learn very quickly that there is a whole another level to this game that we were playing. In addition to that, I figured out pretty quickly that I was not a big league player. Billy Mueller was on my Single A team, and he went on to win a batting title and a World Series with the Red Sox. I saw those guys out there playing and just knew they were big league players, and at the same time I also knew I wasn’t there. Within about six months I knew I had gone as far as I was going to go. I looked around at some of the guys I was playing with and thought, holy cow. One day I hit this ball and the outfielder climbed the wall and pulled it back in like nothing at all. I thought to myself, ‘One, that’s all I’ve got as far as hitting the ball. And two, I’m never going to climb the wall like that. I’m a pretty good baseball player, but I’m not that good.’”

“I played every day and gave it everything I had, but I just wasn’t good enough. I got shuffled around for a bit and was released in July of 1994. When I got released I went home to Michigan to my mom’s, and while I was there I got a call from Brian Sabean in the front office of the San Francisco Giants. They told me, ‘We really appreciate you and we know that you gave it all you had.’ Meanwhile, in my mind I’m thinking, ‘And all I got was a coke, a smile, and a plane ticket.’ What I didn’t realize is that when most minor league careers end, those phone calls don’t happen. They were really looking for me to ask if there was a place somewhere else within the Giants organization, but I didn’t see that at the time. I didn’t see it because I didn’t need them. I had my degree, and had already made some networking phone calls. They asked me if I had a job yet, and I said, ‘No, I’m good.’ At the end of the day, in order to play pro baseball you have to be both talented and mentally tough. But sometimes, you just aren’t the guy, for one reason or another, to move to the next level. But I enjoyed my time in pro ball.”

“After being released I spent some time with my mother. I had not had that chance since my parents were divorced when I was young. I made some phone calls and reconnected with a dear friend, Korey Wrobleski, who had a sales job in Strongsville, OH as a sales rep in corporate relocation, and he put a good word in for me. Within two months I was in an 18 wheeler heading to Ohio to work for Mills Van Lines. It was a great business. You can make a ton of money in sales if you hustle and put in the time. I was with Korey for about a year and Coach Murphy called and said there was an opportunity with the Arizona Diamondbacks. I spoke with Joe Garagiola Jr (ND ’72) the newly minted GM. I interviewed with Don Mitchell, a dear friend to this day, the Scouting Director on Thursday and left the next Tuesday to become the Assistant Director of Scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks in October of 1995. It was a significant pay cut for me, but I was excited to be getting back into baseball, and I was fortunate that I had built up a good savings in my year doing sales.”

“I slept in my Jeep for two days before I found a place to stay in Arizona. I arrived and hit the ground running. We were having winter meetings and things needed to be done, so I started working as soon as I arrived, and just forgot I needed a place to sleep. Working until midnight the first night, and 1 am the second night didn’t help either, and I didn’t have a credit card or a bank account set up yet in Arizona. I eventually found a hotel, crashed and then found an apartment in Scottsdale. As I am a Spanish speaker, I worked a lot with the Spanish speaking scouts. We helped build an academy in the Dominican Republic which was awesome. I worked there until 1998. In 1998 I was engaged to be married, and my soon-to-be wife (Adanna Fails, now Hartwell) was completing her MBA from Duke and got a huge offer from Anderson. I enjoyed my work with the Diamondbacks, and she had talked to Dial in Phoenix, but the offer she got from Anderson was huge, and way out performed what I was making. At the end of the day it was just a job and I was ready to move on to the next adventure. And so I packed up and moved to Atlanta. My dad thought I was crazy! ‘You’re the assistant director of scouting and you’re only 25 years old!’”

“When I got to Atlanta, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. I did some substitute teaching for a year - my whole family were teachers, and then I decided to start my own recruiting service company. I recruited for positions such as sales, technology, and CFOs. I did that for a couple of years at which point I found out that my friend Don Mitchell had left the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he and I decided to open a sport agency. We had six or seven first-round picks that we represented. I did that for seven or eight years until that kind of ran its course. At that fork in the road, I decided to veer off and try real estate. When I was working at the sport agency, I had recruited a young second baseman whose dad was a big time real estate agent in Atlanta, and he offered me a job to come and be a broker with his firm, Newmark Knight Frank. I never even showed him a resume. He knew a Notre Dame grad who knew me, and I got the job. I worked at Newmark for six years, and then in 2012 I joined a small investment bank, DPG Investments, and we raised money for real estate. In 2015 I joined Sinnott & Company, a law firm that specializes in real estate investment banking. I have been here three years as the head of business development.”

Two of the best bi-products of a Notre Dame education are one, becoming a lifelong learner, and two, being agile and comfortable with change in your life. The Notre Dame Value Stream teaches you that life is filled with forks in the road, and each journey is often better than the one before! Not only does Notre Dame prepare you for a life filled with adventures, Our Lady’s University also teachers Her students and student-athletes to give back to their communities, and leave them better than how they found them.

“A dear friend of mine, CJ Stewart, runs a program called LEAD: Launch Expose Advice Direct. I don’t do nearly as much as I did in the past, but LEAD takes the inner city youth in Atlanta and uses baseball as a tool to promote self-confidence, awareness and a staging platform to send young African America males to college. Their vision is: to develop ambassadors who will lead their City of Atlanta to lead the world; to launch student athletes towards educational opportunities after converting raw talent into the skills required for entry into college athletic programs; to expose teens to service and local enrichment activities in order to instill a sense of responsibility, belonging and investment, key requirements for building a civically engaged individual; advise players, coaches and parents on the process of effectively supporting dreams of playing baseball on the college level; direct young men towards their promise by using the historical journey of past African American legends as the road map. If you live in the Atlanta area and are interested in helping out, please visit: www.lead2legacy.org.”

Your teenage years may be a few years in the rear view mirror, as mine are, but I’m sure you can remember what it was like to be young, free, and have the feeling that you’re invincible. So many young student-athletes head off to college feeling pretty invincible and thinking they know exactly what is in store for them when they arrive at college. Eddie shared with me his words of wisdom from his experience as a student-athlete and gives his recommendations for success.

“Well it’s a lot different today than when I came out. The scrutiny of young high school players is insane. The one piece of advice I would give is to choose a school for you. I found Notre Dame, not ND football or baseball, just Notre Dame. If I never played a sport I would still love that place the same. You should pick a place that makes you happy. It is such a grind. I didn’t know that in August of 1989. If you plan on playing a sport, you must be totally committed. I remember the first day of tryouts and Murph had the walk-on players sit in a large conference room (in Loftus) while he was sitting near the water fountain. He watched players come in and some leave as time went on. After about an hour of waiting, Coach Murphy comes into the room and said the guys who left were not committed, and we could begin the tryout. Then he absolutely tore into those of us that stayed and finished with if you think you have what it takes, go out that door and meet me on the field. I’m not sure exactly how many, but there were a lot less that went to the field than went home. You must be committed.”

Eddie currently lives in Atlanta, GA, with his lovely wife Adanna, to whom he’s been married for twenty years, and they have two children: Justin (14) and Taylor (9).

If you enjoyed Eddie’s story, you can read more like it in my latest book. Triumphs From Notre Dame: Echoes of Her Loyal Sons and Daughters.

Eddie Hartwell, his wife Adanna, and their children: Justin and Taylor. (Photo courtesy of Eddie Hartwell)