Andy Tracy

File. Andy Tracy instructs kids inside a batting cage over the winter in Bowling Green. 

Andy Tracy and dozens of other former players have started a campaign to raise funds to bring the program back. Over 40 alumni were in Bowling Green on Wednesday in an effort to get things going.

“We just wanted to make a run at it and see what we could do. I don’t know the answer, but we’re trying to make a run at it,” said Tracy, a former Bobcat and Falcon, after baseball was dropped as a team sport by Bowling Green State University on May 15.

Tracy, a former professional baseball player, is currently the head coach at the Class AAA Columbus Clippers.

“I think it was great for our alumni base and friends of the program to be there to support the players, show them that we are committed to the program and we are committed to Danny (Schmitz, BGSU head coach),” Tracy said. “He’s been there for 30 years, and a lot of us thank him, and we still use his messages that he’s given us in our lives today.

“Our goal as an alumni base is to first get a commitment annually, and then what can you do for five years if you are donating? So your first commitment is annually and then the second commitment is over five years, what can you commit to the campaign?” Tracy continued. “Understanding that we don’t want to go through this in a year or two or ever redo it again, so there’s got to be a commitment for five years, so that we can get the kids through the whole duration of their playing time.

“We’ll never not ask for commitments to the program if they want to give it to us, and if they can’t do five years, we would just break it up into a five-year package.”

The alumni have raised over $1.2 million with 117 contributors in less than a week.

“That alumni group, led by our own Andy Tracy … they weren’t going to just sit back because they were upset. They didn’t know anything about it, which means they didn’t have a chance to do anything about it, so they jumped right in and have just been great,” Schmitz said. “I mean, how do you raise 1.2 million dollars in a matter of three days?

“But they did it. They found a way and it just shows you the love they have for this university and for the baseball program,” Schmitz continued. “Each and every one of them — I probably had a hundred texts right after the announcement and by last Friday night it was unbelievable. And they all said the same thing ­­­they — wouldn’t be where they are at today if it wasn’t for BGSU and the baseball program. So obviously as the coach it makes you feel pretty damn good that’s for sure.”

The termination was a surprise to every one involved in the program.

“We are obviously, disappointed, first of all for the players there, the kids, just starting their journey in sports and in college, and then staff, getting let go and then the Bowling Green community too as a whole,” Tracy said. “I think they’re a baseball community and they enjoy going out there when there’s nice weather, obviously that’s tough in BG but it’s a baseball community and I was just was disappointed with the decision.”

Schmitz said he was blindsided when the announcement was made that the program was being dropped.

“I had no idea that was going to take place. It came out of left field. I guess that’s what I’ve been saying. I had no idea. There was never any word mentioned about cutting sports at all,” Schmitz said. “You know we’ve got to find homes for these kids. And I’ve got to find homes for my assistant coaches. You know they’ve got young families, and so it’s just a lot of different emotions. It just really wasn’t good. It wasn’t good at all.

“I mean obviously, we knew some things we were going to have to adjust, budgets and everything, but we were asked to share some information in regard to budget cut. Probably the two most expensive lines for any athletics team in college is going to be your equipment line and your team travel line.”

With the termination of the sport, over 20 of the 34 players on the roster have put their names into the transfer portal looking to continue their baseball careers. Currently, only one player, outfielder Jake Wilson, has left Bowling Green and will play at Liberty University.

Included in the transfer portal are Bowling Green High School graduates Dylan Dohanos and Adam Furnas, who each have played two years for the Falcons. Dohanos is a utility player and Furnas is a first baseman.

Eastwood graduate Tyler Haas, a utility player, and Perrysburg graduate Griffin Parrill, a pitcher, have each played one season with Bowling Green.

“It was tough. It kind of felt like a low blow, just a blindside,” Dohanos said. “We didn’t think it was to that point yet, and so it was definitely heartbreaking that no one saw it coming.

“It’s sunk in, it’s real. We’re just trying to find new homes. All of us. I think I can speak for the whole team. We’re just trying to find a new place to play baseball,” he said.

“I’m definitely actively looking. I don’t know if I will leave or not because they are honoring my scholarship here. I’m kind of just waiting for the perfect fit, and if it comes, it comes, and if it doesn’t then I’ll stick out my degree here at BG.”

Schmitz thinks there will be enough players to field a team if the program is reinstated and has a five-year plan.

“It’s got to be back for five years. You can’t have a program that we’re going to have for one year and then you cut the program.” Schmitz said. “You know they’ve been through enough, they don’t need to experience another thing. And in five years if you timed every class, including the three freshmen we had coming in in the fall, to get through with no problem. They get the degree. They get the four years of being a Falcon baseball player. That’s what was important to the alumni too.”

BGSU announced on May 15 the elimination of the baseball program effective immediately. This action was part of a plan for a $2 million reduction to the operating budget of the intercollegiate athletics department.

(Sentinel-Tribune multi-media journalist J.D. Pooley contributed to this.)

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