Former Herd baseball players still use teamwork

The skills diminish over time and all that, but I made some friends that I still have to this day.”

— John Winters

From throwing strikes, to fielding hits, to the daily operations of Marshall University, three former Herd baseball players still know the meaning of teamwork.

John Winters, Director of Printing Services Brian Morgan, chair and associate of Integrated Science and Technology and Sargent Scott Ballou of the Marshall University Police Department, played baseball at Marshall in the early 1990s.

“The skills diminish over time and all that, but I made some friends that I still have to this day,” Winters said.

Winters came on a baseball scholarship from Lincoln County with 80 people in his graduating class.

Winters started as a relief pitcher, as an underclassman, finally making it into the rotation his junior year and becoming a conference starter his senior year.

Winters said he thanks his athletic career to landing him a career at the university. In May he will have worked 19 consecutive years at Marshall.

“I like being a staff member, and I think Marshall University has really afforded me a lot of opportunities and primarily of which is to stay in this region,” Winters said. “You know if you’re going to be around here, I think that this is the place to work, and I couldn’t be happier.”

At a game in Appalachian State, Winters pitched his only complete game shutout. In the last inning of the game, Morgan was forced in to catch for Winters.

Morgan grew up across the Ohio River in Chesapeake, Ohio, received a full academic scholarship from the university and was invited to walk on the team.

“I got the best of both worlds,” Morgan said. “I got to play baseball and have my education paid for.”

Morgan attributes the opportunities Marshall afforded him not only on the field, but in the classroom as well, to let him be where he is today.

“I miss playing baseball,” Morgan said. “I still think about it a lot. My experience there I wouldn’t trade for anything.”

The lessons Morgan learned on and off the field at Marshall, stems from his father teaching him to be a gentleman of the game.

“To be competitive and courteous at the same time, try to outsmart your opponent, so some of those things you can take truly through life,” Morgan said.

Morgan tries to share the same lessons his father taught him about life and baseball with his children while he coaches them in youth sports.

“Trying to instill not only the game, but also a love of the game. How not only to play the game of baseball, but play the game of life as well,” Morgan said.

Ballou attended high school in Florida and met a Marshall coach in the summer of 1992.

“I was really taken in by a lot of people here. I came from a long way so I didn’t really know anybody,” Ballou said.

Ballou said his original plan was to play baseball, graduate and go back to Florida. Instead, he stayed because he met a West Virginia girl.

He took a job with the campus police department in 1999, knowing he could still help out with the team and relate to the players.

“It’s kind of neat still being here,” Ballou said. “There’s something special about Marshall. It’s neat to still be involved.”

The teamwork skills Ballou learned in his baseball days, he still carries with him today as he raises his children and teaches the R.A.D. program, a self-defense class for female students.

“You want to be the best you can be and I take that same mentality, whether that’s teaching my kids or teaching women how to defend themselves, I take that same passion,” Ballou said.

Ballou tries to stay involved with the team, whether it is occasionally throwing batting practice or speaking to a group of student athletes.

“I enjoy still being around and interacting with the student athletes that’s very important to me,” Ballou said.

As the three cross paths on campus, they are reminded the teamwork they learned, opportunities they were given and lessons they learned from days together on the baseball field.

Kasey Madden can be contacted at [email protected]