Whiteman ’19 Has Draft Aspirations
by catherine elvy, staff writer
As captain of Yale University’s baseball team, Simon Whiteman is grateful for the opportunities his position has afforded him to add new chapters to the team’s rich history. Especially memorable have been the recent events that contributed to a “really big fall for our program,” said Whiteman ’19.
In late November, the team was in the spotlight as the nation mourned the death of one of its former captains, President George H.W. Bush, ’48. Weeks earlier, Yale baseball alumnus Mike Elias ’06 was named as the executive vice president and general manager of the Baltimore Orioles.
As his team’s renown continues to increase, Whiteman paused to credit the mentorship he receives from Christian Union’s ministry at Yale for strengthening his leadership skills and spirituality.
The ministry has offered the infielder Christian leadership training via its Bible courses, weekly lectures series, and other resources. “It has become an invaluable source of grace,” said Whiteman.
In turn, Ministry Director Clay Cromer described the star athlete as a faithful participant in Bible courses and expressed appreciation for his role as an assistant Bible course leader during fall 2018.
“Simon is widely respected, and just a few minutes with him will show you why. He is a ‘tender warrior.’ He exhibits others-centeredness and deep humility, combined with personal intensity and rugged assurance in Christ,” said Cromer.
In addition, Whiteman has reached out to his Bulldog teammates with Bible course opportunities since his freshman year. After arriving at Yale, “I really took ownership of my faith,” Whiteman said. “My faith has really shaped my character, who I am as a person.”
Now, as graduation approaches, the Connecticut native’s focus is on reflecting his faith on the field and wherever baseball may take him. Stepping up to the plate allows Whiteman to combine his twin passions for spirituality and sportsmanship. “We are all given a bunch of talents and means to give God glory,” he said.
Not surprisingly, Whiteman is grateful for recent collegiate opportunities that may pave the way for a look from Major League Baseball teams.
During summer 2018, the chemical engineering major helped propel the Valley Blue Sox to a 19-6 victory over the formidable Ocean State Waves in the decisive game two of the New England Collegiate Baseball League Championship Series, clinching a second-straight title. The Massachusetts team also enjoyed a league-best 30-12 regular season record.
The exciting summer helped to fuel Whiteman’s aspirations for a career in professional baseball. “It’s a good step in the right direction,” Whiteman said. “I’ve generated some interest.”
As well, Whiteman returned to New Haven with fresh enthusiasm for serving as a Bulldogs captain in 2019. The shortstop was named to the Academic All-District Team, batting 337 as Yale finished third in the Ivy League with a 12-9 conference record. Whiteman collected 213 hits in his career and finished tied for second place on the school's all-time list.
In the fall, Whiteman was honored to pay tribute to one especially memorable Bulldog baseball player, George H.W. Bush. The student-athlete participated in a series of media interviews after the death of Bush on Nov. 30 at age 94.
In addition to helping Yale advance to the College World Series in 1947 and 1948, Bush played a role in an extraordinary piece of baseball history. As Yale’s captain, he was the team’s representative for a ceremony on the field as an ailing Babe Ruth presented a copy of his biography to the Yale library.
The statesman retained his keen interest in Yale’s baseball team into his twilight years.
Indeed, after the team’s record-breaking 34-win season in 2017, George and Barbara Bush hosted players at their oceanfront compound in Maine. The couple seemed genuinely interested in hearing about the team’s seasons and the players’ campus endeavors. Whiteman described the former president as an incredible man.
“He was such a warm person to be around,” Whiteman said. “He was a very welcoming host.”
During a series of media interviews, Whiteman stressed how Bush’s wisdom and character, plus his love of all things Yale stood out. “He was eager to hear about our season,” said Whiteman.
In another key Yale baseball development, the Baltimore Orioles announced their selection of alumnus Elias as general manager in November.
The hiring came as Elias completed his thirteenth season in Major League Baseball. Among his credentials, Elias served as manager of amateur scouting for the St. Louis Cardinals and director of amateur scouting for the Houston Astros. In 2016, the Astros expanded his role to include player development and minor league operations.
In addition to these recent boosts to Yale’s already impressive national profile, Whiteman is setting his sights on the next level.
Regardless of how that plays out, he also is keeping his focus on Jesus Christ. “I know he has his eyes set on big goals ahead, but his eyes are set on Christ above all,” said Cromer. “He’s inspiring to be around.”