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Ron Darling

On March 30, 1981, the baseball team took the field in front of a larger-than usual crowd to open the season against Holy Cross. The crowd had come to see pitcher-infielder Ron Darling, DC '82, who had been featured just the week before in Sports Illustrated as one of the nation's top prospects. Darling treated the crowd to a two-run blast in the seventh to give the Bulldogs a 4-1 win.

The Holy Cross game was just the beginning of what would be a phenomenal junior year for Darling. That season, he extended his complete-game streak to 25—a Yale record he still holds—en route to an Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League championship. But it was the star's sophomore year that first compelled many to argue he was Yale's best ballplayer ever.

"His season was probably the greatest a Yale player has ever had as far as both pitching and hitting go," Coach Joe Benato said at the time. Drafted directly out of high school, Darling chose to attend Yale because he wanted to improve. "I just didn't think I was good enough [for professional baseball]," Darling said. In only his second year as a Bulldog, Darling set the school record for single-season batting average, batting a whopping .386, and racking up an 11-2 record with an incredible 1.31 ERA.

The summer after his breakout season, Darling was invited to play in the Cape Cod League, a division that draws top college players from all over the U.S. Despite facing tough competition, Darling continued to dominate, particularly as a hitter, accumulating a .336 batting average while driving in 26 runs. For his stellar performance, Darling was voted the league's Most Valuable Player by the scouts and coaches.

While Darling was set to graduate in December 1982, he was drafted that June by the Texas Rangers. He played that summer for the AA Tulsa Drillers, where he accrued a respectable 4-2 record before moving to the winter Florida Instructional League, where he played under Don Zimmer. Darling would go on to play for the New York Mets, helping the Amazins' to win the 1986 World Series before retiring after the 1995 season. —Ted Diskant

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