Hours after Towson University in Maryland announced it was cutting the baseball program, the players cut "Towson" from their uniforms. Well, the players blotted it out with black duct tape, to be precise. Catcher Zach Fisher explains here:
"We don't support Towson, so we don't want to wear something that says 'Towson.' "
And that's because, as of Friday, Towson no longer supports baseball. It is following through on threats reported by the Baltimore Sun in October that the baseball program would cease at the end of the season. The men's soccer team is getting cut, too, for a total of roughly 65 roster spots. Scholarships will continue to be honored, but baseball coach Mike Gottlieb will be busy trying to place elsewhere players with eligibility who want to keep playing.
As for the Towson players finishing out the season with strips of tape on their uniforms, good for them. In the grand scheme, it might not be a Berkeley sit-in, or James Meredith defying mobs and needing the National Guard's help to attend Ole Miss Alabama, but it's pretty strong as civil disobedience goes. And to think, as Deadspin reported, Towson officials were so worried about a violent response that they called the police before making the announcement.
Athletic director Mike Waddell, who says the moves will save the school about $800,000, has blamed Title IX compliance, but might it really be so more resources are funneled to football and men's basketball? Gottlieb isn't confident in the school's stated motives, either:
"What concerns me is that they apparently have the philosophy that whatever sports we have, we're going to have the infrastructure to have a legitimate chance to win a championship," said Gottlieb, whose teams have had winning records 14 of the past 16 years and have averaged over 25 wins a year. "I can appreciate that. Probably that's the way it is in the ACC, the Southeastern Conference and the Pac-12. There are a lot of mid-major programs in the country that don't have those resources.
"There was a time not long ago when it was about giving kids the experience with a combination of education and athletics. We didn't have the support we needed to be great, but looking back, a lot of kids loved their experience here. I've had a deluge of that support over the last 24 hours. ... They seem to think that if you're fully funded, you're going to always win. It doesn't work that way."
Gottlieb is a Towson alum who took over the program in 1988.
Towson hasn't ever been a major power in collegiate baseball (lacrosse, sure), but a few major leaguers played ball there. Most notably: Casper Wells of the Seattle Mariners; Curt Blefary, who won AL Rookie of the Year with the Orioles in 1965; left-hander Chris Nabholz of the Montreal Expos; and Al Rubeling of the A's and Pirates in the 1940s.
By far the biggest contributor to Major League Baseball who came through Towson has been John Schuerholz, president of the Atlanta Braves. Towson's home field is named in his honor.
Moves like this are reversible, possibly, but for now it seems like Towson baseball will be relegated to history.
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