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Craig Connolly

Courtesy: University of Pennsylvania
HALL OF FAME CLASS IX: Craig P. Connolly C'90 CGS'98
Courtesy: University of Pennsylvania  
Release:  05/01/2014

Prior to the current Ivy League baseball format -- two four-team divisions, with the divisional winners meeting in a best-of-three series to determine the Ancient Eight’s NCAA participant -- there was the Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League (EIBL), which featured the eight Ivy institutions plus Army and Navy. There were no divisions; one team emerged each year to top the 10-team standings. Just four times in the history of the EIBL (1930-92), that program was Penn. Three of them came in succession, from 1988-90, as the Quakers went 42-12 in conference play during those three years. A big reason for the Red and Bue’s success was its ace on the mound, Craig Connolly. The EIBL Pitcher of the Year in both 1989 and 1990 -- only one other person had won the award twice at the time of Connolly’s induction, some guy named Ron Darling -- he pitched nearly 260 innings and won 20 games during his career for the Quakers, numbers topped in the modern era only by Andy Muhlstock. Connolly also remains the program’s all-time leader in career strikeouts (227). Connolly tied for the EIBL lead in conference wins in both 1989 and 1990 (4 both years), and was the EIBL’s leader in conference ERA as a junior -- when he allowed just one run in 34.0 innings, a ridiculous 0.26 -- and again as a senior (two runs in 34.1 innings, 0.52) when he also topped the EIBL with 38 K’s. Not surprisingly, he was named first-team All-EIBL each of those season, and was a unanimous choice as a junior. After 85 years of EIBL/Ivy League baseball, Connolly’s junior-year ERA was still third in conference history at the time of his induction, while his senior-year ERA was 12th. Following his graduation, Connolly was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 1990 Major League Baseball Draft.

“In the fall of 1986, I walked onto the Penn campus a cocky, skinny kid who knew he was going to achieve great things. The first year was a bit of a shock. Adjusting to the rigorous academics, along with a lackluster baseball season, challenged and renewed my resolve. I entered my sophomore year ready to take on the world, and the rest, as they say, is history. Our team went on to win three straight EIBL Championships, the best run ever for Penn Baseball. Whether we realized it or not at the time, we were part of something truly extraordinary.The entire Penn Baseball staff and players combined to create an entity bigger than the sum of the individuals. I had the great privilege of working with many brilliant and motivated people: the coaches, trainers, managers, and talented players. Here, I found some of the best people I have met in my life. Many remain close friends to this day, bonded by our experiences at Penn. I was fortunate to be raised by parents who believed in my abilities and were willing to sacrifice much to help me achieve my dreams. They instilled in me a strong work ethic and a limitless competitive drive. At Penn, these qualities were fostered and refined. I graduated a little less skinny, a bit less cocky, and much better prepared to accomplish great things. My time at Penn was invaluable to me. Not enough can be said of the people who helped me grow athletically and, also, of the professors who challenged me and helped me grow academically. Another Penn benefit was meeting my lovely wife. We have three wonderful boys, who we hope will attend Penn someday. I am truly humbled by this tribute. It is me who should be honoring all those who were part of this very special time in my life. My achievements would not have been possible without them.”

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