Editor's note: In honor of the university's centennial year, The Daily News is counting down 100 days to the university's celebration Sept. 6 with 100 of Ball State's most famous traditions and figures. Check back each day to read about Cardinal history.
Baseball is known as America’s “national pastime,” and at Ball State, that pastime has been around since 1920.
Throughout the 98 years since beginning play, the program has seen 66 players selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. With all those picks, the highest in Ball State and Mid-American Conference history was chosen No. 1 overall.
Bryan Bullington was selected first overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2002, making his major league debut in 2005. After battling injuries, Bullington made the Triple-A All-Star game in 2007. He stayed in the majors until 2011, seeing time with the Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals. He picked up his first win in the big leagues in 2010 with the Royals by tossing eight scoreless innings against the New York Yankees on Aug. 15.
After that season, Bullington signed with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Japan’s Central League where he played until 2015.
Bullington is one of seven Cardinals in history to be selected in the first round of the draft. Thomas Howard (1986), Jeff Urban (1998), Luke Hagerty (2002), Brad Snyder (2003), Kulbrin Vitek (2010) and Larry Bigbie (1999) account for the other six.
Current head coach Rich Maloney has been around for two separate stints at the helm, first in 1996-2002 and again in 2013 through now. He served as the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines from 2003-2012.
During that span, Maloney has picked up 453 wins as the head coach at Ball State and led the team to all four of its MAC regular season titles.
The Cardinals won their only MAC Tournament in 2006 under Greg Beals. That year, they finished 38-22, going undefeated in the conference tournament and winning the opener of their NCAA Regional in a 3-1 win against Kentucky before dropping their next two games to end the season.
Paul Williams, Ball State’s Director of Athletics who suggested the “Cardinals” nickname and led the change from the previous “Hoosieroons” nickname, coached the team for 38 years before Ray Louthen took his place in 1959.
Though it’s been around for 98 years, Ball State baseball has only known seven coaches. Alex Macroni had the shortest stint at just two years. Pat Quinn led the program from 1983 until Maloney’s arrival, and Bob Rickel preceded him to round out the seven names to head the program.
With over 1600 wins to its name, Ball State will look to win just its second MAC Tournament and take another trip to an NCAA Baseball Tournament when 2019 rolls around.