What’s it like to set the NCAA hit-by-pitch record? Let JT Landwehr of Mount St. Mary’s explain.

Having played organized baseball since he was 3 years old, JT Landwehr has never broken a bone or torn a muscle or ligament.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound sophomore continued that streak this past spring at Mount St. Mary’s, but he didn’t go unscathed. Landwehr rewrote the NCAA Division I single-season hit-by-pitch record, getting struck 39 times in 57 games.

The irony of rewriting the record book in a category that usually flies under the radar was not lost on Landwehr, whose initials stand for John Thomas.

“I’m in the book, but I’m in the book for something that is pretty funny,” the second baseman said. “I didn’t go out and hit 50 homers this year. But it’s something cool to have.”

Mountaineers coach Frank Leoni mentored Michael La Barbera at Rhode Island in 2001 and Mike Sheridan at William & Mary in 2007 when they were recognized as the toughest players nationally to strike out in their respective seasons. But he has never coached a player who reset a Division I mark.

“Once he got going and once they started accumulating and those hit-by-pitch totals started getting up there, I think he saw it as a badge of honor,” Leoni said. “Do I wish it was home runs instead of hit by pitches? Yeah, but it’s still cool.”

Landwehr paid a price for that record. His left arm from the elbow to the shoulder was so bruised and swollen after taking so many throws that he struggled at times to slip that arm into shirts and hoodies.

“Putting it nicely, it was actually disgusting,” senior shortstop Tyler Long said. “It was all puffy. Basically, his entire left arm was purple. And it got to the point where he got hit twice in the exact same spot, and I knew that just by looking at him in the face, that hurt. Getting hit hurts, but this was a different kind of hurt. It was just unreal.”

Landwehr didn’t disagree with his teammate’s assessment.

“It was gnarly,” he said. “It was gross, but I was like, ‘Hey, whatever it takes for the team.’”

Landwehr’s road to the record wasn’t an idea steeped in history. In fact, he acknowledged shying away from getting hit last season, which contributed to just seven hit-by-pitches.

But in the opening three-game series of the season at Norfolk State in mid-February, Landwehr was hit five times in nine at-bats and saw he was already among the national leaders in that department. That led to an epiphany of sorts.

“It became an ongoing joke,” he said. “It just kept happening, and no one was against it. I’m on base. That meant more of a chance to score runs.”

Landwehr took advantage of his opportunities, ranking second among the Mountaineers in on-base percentage (.443) and third in runs scored (43) while batting third in the order for most of the season. But Leoni acknowledged he had some concern about the potential for catastrophe.

“Almost like, ‘When does this stop? When does he get in the way of a pitch that maybe doesn’t hit his arm but is going to hit him somewhere else?’” he recalled, adding that he dropped Landwehr to the bottom third of the order in a couple games. “Where he holds his hands, they’re not that far away from his face. So you worry about stuff like that.”

How did his parents John and Karen Landwehr feel? “My dad thought it was hilarious,” Landwehr said. “My mom saw it and was like, ‘Oh my. Go ice it up.’”

Landwehr was hit three times in a game against Lehigh on March 8 and Marist on April 6. His longest streak of hit by pitches was five consecutive games, which occurred twice, and he went four straight games in early May without getting hit, which was a season high.

Absorbing those throws not only took a physical toll on Landwehr, but affected him mentally.

“It messed with my head a little bit because you don’t know whether it’s coming right down the middle or right at you,” he said. “But towards the end of the year when that record was getting closer, I was just accepting it at that point. I wasn’t trying to lean into pitches. It would just happen. I don’t know how to explain it. The ball would find me.”

As Landwehr got closer to the record of 37 shared by Brian Harris of Vanderbilt (2010) and Scott Davis of Delaware (2012), his teammates began sharing in his excitement.

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“I think he was about 10 away, and every time he got hit, we started a countdown,” Long said. “And when he finally got it, we all went ballistic in the dugout. We were like, ‘There it is, there it is! He got the record!’ We started freaking out, and it was super cool for him to get it.”

Landwehr tied the record in the team’s regular-season finale at Saint Peters on May 18 and reset the mark in the third inning of an opening-round Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament game against Canisius on May 22. He kept the baseball that struck him from that game.

“I’ll always remember my sophomore year for getting hit this many times,” he said. “I’ll be honest. I’ll be sitting there and sweating out the rest of the college baseball seasons from now on to see if anyone gets close.”

Leoni insisted that Landwehr is a well-rounded player. He said Landwehr is the quickest player he has coached to turn a double play, developed into a starting pitcher who struck out 31 batters in 28 2/3 innings this spring, and noted that he was one of the top players nationally in highest percentage of line drives.

So what will Landwehr do for an encore? Both he and Leoni agreed that trying to break his own record should not be an objective next season.

“I hope not,” said Landwehr, who will play with the Bristol Blues of the New England Collegiate Baseball League this summer. “I don’t wish that upon anybody else. It was more annoying than anything. It was like stepping on a Lego or stubbing your toe, but it would happen almost every game. It was inevitable.”