Marshall Rich joined the Hamilton Joes college wooden-bat baseball team a few weeks ago and found himself in the midst of a playoff run, which took the team to an opening game this past Tuesday against the Cincinnati Steam.
Rich moved to Oxford last August after being invited to play for the Miami University Hamilton (MUH) Harriers. This summer found him playing for a wooden-bat team elsewhere until the invitation to join the Joes.
“I am honored to be here. I’m blessed these guys gave me an opportunity to play. I’m taking this day-by-day,” Rich said after the game. “This is the highest level of baseball I’ve ever played.”
The Joes play in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League, which uses wooden bats rather than metal ones, which gives some players problems adjusting from their college play, but Rich said he likes it.
“It’s a little different. It makes the game more challenging. It’s mind over matter when you hit the ball, it goes somewhere,” he said, noting home runs are fewer so there is more emphasis on defense. “When the ball is coming in at 90 miles an hour, you’ve got to be more patient at the plate.”
He said he has played with wooden bats since he was 16 and in several leagues so he is more used to it than many college players who have used metal bats all through high school and college.
“I enjoy wood bats more. For me is feels more like baseball with wood,” he said.
Rich grew up in Union, Ky., and graduated from Larry A. Ryle High School. He started at the University of the Cumberlands but left in his sophomore year. He met Eric Minshall, who was the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Miami University Hamilton baseball team, which led to the invitation to join the Harriers’ squad.
“I met with him and (Harriers Coach) Darrel Grissom. They said I would have a chance to play,” Rich said.
He and his wife, Sophie, got an apartment in Oxford last August and since have added a son, Maverick, who is five months old. Rich is working on a business degree focused on commerce and small business, while his wife is working on a master’s degree on-line.
The Great Lakes league is one of only eight summer collegiate wooden-bat leagues in the U.S. sanctioned by the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball (NACSB). It is funded in part by Major League Baseball and consists of MLB draft prospects from around the nation. The Joes, named for the late Joe Nuxhall, began play in 2009.
Since 2009, the Hamilton Joes have had 35 players signed to professional contracts.
Currently there are three Joes alumni playing in Major League Baseball — Brent Suter, Matt Marksberry and Ryan Rua.