You see posts that talk about kids "committing" to schools as preferred walk-ons. The question I have is regarding the guys who show up on campus and go to the "open tryouts" and earn a spot. Someone in another post yesterday mentioned that one kid's school doesn't even hold open tryouts until October, which means that the team has been practicing together for at least a month prior to that.

Obviously this may be more easily done at a D3, NAIA or even D2 school, but has anyone ever heard of someone, who was never recruited, walking on campus and trying out and making the team?

Just curious

Original Post

On a light note it almost happened many years ago! We had a buddy in college who claimed he was a great HS baseball player and in fact was being considered for induction into his HS Hall of Fame only 2 years after graduation.  One night while at the local watering hole he is boasting and we then dare him to try out for this SEC team and a bet was on the line if he makes it.  We attended the tryouts to verify his claim and some of us in stereo say "holy #@$@ he may make the team"  After he hit 3 hr in 2 days from the left side, lefty 1B with a cannon for an arm.....we thought for sure we lost .  Luckily for us he was a Junior!  HC lets him go on last day of tryouts only to tell him "if you were a freshman you would of made team".

 Surely not these day would this ever happen!

Last edited by JABMK

It couldn't happen now IMO, but it happened every now and then back in the day - which I know because it happened to me.  I walked on at a top 25 D1 program and made the team. I was not recruited at that school, but I was at 4 or 5 other schools that weren't as prominent.  I had offers - just not any that I wanted. The HC didn't know I was enrolled in school but when I showed up he knew who I was. There were over 200 at the tryout and 2 of us made it - both RHPs that threw over 90 mph back when not that many did.  So we really stood out. I eventually earned a scholarship but it was uphill sledding all 3 years that I played there. Even though I was the hardest thrower on a really good pitching staff I never got as much opportunity as guys that were recruited.  Going in I had made the decision that I wanted to go to this school regardless of baseball so I was willing to roll the dice and take what I got.  The experience went a long way toward developing perseverance. which has served me well later in life. 

It does happen from time to time. It happened to my wife in volleyball on a Pac 10 team. She made the team but rarely played  over 4 years but it was worth it for her. . Reportedly A kid my son's played with in travel one year was asked to join the team (pac 12) after 1 year of the school's club team . But if you really wanted to play baseball (or any sport ) I wouldn't use it as a recruiting method. 

Before D1 had roster limits (35) players walked on via open tryouts. Now with roster max at 35 a player is more likely to be recruited and not make the roster than to walk on via an open tryout.

The NCAA requires walk on tryouts. A kid from our high school was invited to attempt to walk on by the coach of a mid major about ten years ago. After 45 minutes the tryout ended. The players trying out were told there weren’t any roster spots open.

A D1 mid-major school/head coach that offered my oldest son admitted to us that they hold tryouts every year, but do a terrible job of communicating details to the student body.  The tryout exercise is a "check the box" for the NCAA. 

I walked on at an SEC team back in the 80's after seeing an article in the student newspaper that a catcher had gone down to injury.  I had a chance to play ball at smaller schools, but decided the opportunity to go to this school was too good to pass up.  Didn't even bring any baseball gear with me to school.  So I showed up late to the tryout and they were already taking infield.  I found an assistant coach and said I'd like to give this a try and that I found out late about the tryout.  They let me throw a few to warm up and asked me to join the infield workout.  I didn't even have a catcher's mitt, so I asked one of the other catchers trying out to use his.  The head coach gave me a strange look, he may have even said something like why don't you have your own glove.  Truth is I never owned my own catcher's mitt.  Always used the HS-provided glove when I was in high school.

Anyway, my arm was feeling pretty good as I hadn't played in a few weeks.  I made my first throw to second and it seemed like everyone in the entire place stopped to watch after that.  I remember having to field a bunt down the 3B line and did a spin move to throw to first and it felt like I threw it 100 MPH.  It was a perfect throw but the 1B totally whiffed on it.  The head coach said, boy you almost killed that kid and gave me this huge smile.  It was then that I knew I made the team.

They had me come out for a second day and there was a MLB scout there with a radar gun.  They had me make throws to the bags and field bunts.  I never thought anything of it until much later when someone told me they clocked me at 88 MPH on a few of my throws.  Coach came up to me and started interrogating me after the second day wondering what I was doing there, why wasn't I playing somewhere.  I just told him that I came from a nowhere town in the midwest.  Nobody helped us get noticed, and I really had no idea if I was good enough to play at a high level.  He said, well you're going to get your shot, and so I made the team.  I played some my freshman year, but unfortunately got injured playing summer ball and re-injured it the fall of my sophomore season.  Decided to take the year off to rest, but never ended up playing again.  Got my degree in four years and never looked back.

Not sure why I share this story.  I've never even told my kids these details.  I guess the thought that kids can't really even walk on in this day and age prompted me to do so.  Good news is that today our kids have ample resources to be seen and understand where they fit in the baseball landscape.  Good luck to all of the young men who take the walk-on path.  It's not easy, but I certainly have a ton of admiration for those who choose to take that journey.

fenwaysouth posted:

A D1 mid-major school/head coach that offered my oldest son admitted to us that they hold tryouts every year, but do a terrible job of communicating details to the student body.  The tryout exercise is a "check the box" for the NCAA. 

Of course it is.

SSBuckeye posted:

I walked on at an SEC team back in the 80's after seeing an article in the student newspaper that a catcher had gone down to injury.  I had a chance to play ball at smaller schools, but decided the opportunity to go to this school was too good to pass up.  Didn't even bring any baseball gear with me to school.  So I showed up late to the tryout and they were already taking infield.  I found an assistant coach and said I'd like to give this a try and that I found out late about the tryout.  They let me throw a few to warm up and asked me to join the infield workout.  I didn't even have a catcher's mitt, so I asked one of the other catchers trying out to use his.  The head coach gave me a strange look, he may have even said something like why don't you have your own glove.  Truth is I never owned my own catcher's mitt.  Always used the HS-provided glove when I was in high school.

Anyway, my arm was feeling pretty good as I hadn't played in a few weeks.  I made my first throw to second and it seemed like everyone in the entire place stopped to watch after that.  I remember having to field a bunt down the 3B line and did a spin move to throw to first and it felt like I threw it 100 MPH.  It was a perfect throw but the 1B totally whiffed on it.  The head coach said, boy you almost killed that kid and gave me this huge smile.  It was then that I knew I made the team.

They had me come out for a second day and there was a MLB scout there with a radar gun.  They had me make throws to the bags and field bunts.  I never thought anything of it until much later when someone told me they clocked me at 88 MPH on a few of my throws.  Coach came up to me and started interrogating me after the second day wondering what I was doing there, why wasn't I playing somewhere.  I just told him that I came from a nowhere town in the midwest.  Nobody helped us get noticed, and I really had no idea if I was good enough to play at a high level.  He said, well you're going to get your shot, and so I made the team.  I played some my freshman year, but unfortunately got injured playing summer ball and re-injured it the fall of my sophomore season.  Decided to take the year off to rest, but never ended up playing again.  Got my degree in four years and never looked back.

Not sure why I share this story.  I've never even told my kids these details.  I guess the thought that kids can't really even walk on in this day and age prompted me to do so.  Good news is that today our kids have ample resources to be seen and understand where they fit in the baseball landscape.  Good luck to all of the young men who take the walk-on path.  It's not easy, but I certainly have a ton of admiration for those who choose to take that journey.

Great story and one that should be shared with your kids about perseverance and making your own breaks, etc.  Though, I'd leave out the past about showing up late to tryouts.

The open tryouts today are not really open tryouts.  My oldest son had D3, D2, NAIA offers out of high school but decided he was going to local D1 Midmajor.  The coaching staff was recruiting his younger brother and had seen him play a lot.  His best friend was on the team.  They asked him if he wanted to walk-on, I think as much to build more relationship with younger brother.  We had to have all kinds of forms filled out and take a physical and even had to have some blood test done that was required.  After we did all this, they told him when he arrived the day of the tryouts that they were not taking any walkons that year. 

Didn't bid well for them in getting other son.  It was even funnier when my son got the job of HC at the middle school and guess whose son was trying out, the HC.  He told a mutual friend, I reckon I screwed my son because this should be ultimate payback.  My son kept his son and they became good friends.  We actually coached 2 of his sons and built a good relationship.  His junior year after growing and lifting he had increased his ability to hit and throw the coach offered him a preferred walk-on position.   But also told my son if coaching was what he wanted to do he should stay where he was.  My son decided to stick with coaching. 

Never say never.....  I know of 2 cases within the last 7 years where this came true (I have no doubt there are many more, just my retention capacity is extremely limited ).  Enclosed is a baseball example, though not really a "show up for tryouts" case.

https://www.mlb.com/news/arizo...-pirates/c-236351968

The second example is with a D1 women's basketball program.  A student went to a P5 university, played in high school but it ended there.  She loved the sport so much she volunteered to be the student team manager at this university (for 1 - 2 years).  Some unfortunate team injuries & academic problems left the team with barely enough players.  The manager asked the HC if she could try out for the team and was granted.  She ended up on the team her remaining years.

Odds are still stacked up against you but nevertheless, if you are in the right place at the right time, you never know.  Good luck

 

Last edited by Trust In Him

I think of Morgan Brown who graduated from Harvard in 2006. He was a walk on, who would go on to be All Ivy at SS., and captain his senior year.  He was a Harvard Assistant coach and has been the Director of Baseball Operations the last few years. 

baseballhs posted:

I don’t know about baseball but obviously, Baker Mayfield walked on twice and it turned out pretty well for him.

I don't think we are talking about the same kind of walk-on.  All walk-ons are not created equal...

rynoattack posted:
baseballhs posted:

I don’t know about baseball but obviously, Baker Mayfield walked on twice and it turned out pretty well for him.

I don't think we are talking about the same kind of walk-on.  All walk-ons are not created equal...

 Agreed, but he did not have one power five offer coming out of high school. I don’t think he has many options at all coming out of high school.

Almost never.

When my son was a freshman, his school had its open tryout on the first official day of practice--after the practice.

By this time of the tryout, the recruited/returning players had been doing conditioning as a team and conducting captain-led practices for about a month. The team had already bonded. They already had their lockers. They already had all their practice gear. 

There was a page on the team website announcing the tryout and specifying all the paperwork that had to be submitted beforehand. Players wanting to try out had to look for that page.

The coaches barely paid attention as the 25 or 30 true walk ons warmed up in the outfield. A few pitchers got to throw a half dozen or so pitches in a bullpen. Nobody got to swing a bat. Nobody got to field a grounder. It was over in less than half an hour.

A player would have had to show something very special and unexpected to get noticed in that scenario. Nobody did. 

I think that's fairly typical.

baseballhs posted:

I don’t know about baseball but obviously, Baker Mayfield walked on twice and it turned out pretty well for him.

Mayfield was a known quantity without a scholarship. But football is different. Walk ones are not uncommon in college football.The question was did he deserve a scholarship at that level. Both players and coaches make mistakes in the recruiting process. It’s why there are so many transfers.

Last edited by RJM

No true walk on's made the squad for the colleges he played for (D2 Juco and a D2).   There were two walk on's at the beginning of practice.   Neither made the final cut.

The D2 he transferred to had a tryout day in mid October.  The team had already been practicing and working out for 2 months.  No walk ons made the team.

On some small D3's, if you can pitch 80+ mph and look like you know what you are doing on the mound then you're in...especially if you're a LHP. Catching poor programs might also pick up a guy.

    There is a local, HA D3(top 10 academically nationwide) with a perennial talent deficit. If you are a slightly above average HS player, then you can make the team most years as a walk on. Trouble is, it's the sort of school where a 36 ACT and 4.0 GPA doesn't guarantee admission. 

baseballhs posted:
rynoattack posted:
baseballhs posted:

I don’t know about baseball but obviously, Baker Mayfield walked on twice and it turned out pretty well for him.

I don't think we are talking about the same kind of walk-on.  All walk-ons are not created equal...

 Agreed, but he did not have one power five offer coming out of high school. I don’t think he has many options at all coming out of high school.

Baker Mayfield was not an unknown player in high school - he was on a high-profile Lake Travis team, had good to very good numbers and many schools knew of him. But Mayfield has often said that TCU told him they would offer him,but never did all the way up to national signing day. That's why he was left without a major D1 scholarship. His dad was pushy and very unlikable too.

Also, walking on to a D1 football team is not difficult at all compared to walking on to a baseball team. I knew several players who walked on to major D1 teams in Texas and they were not particularly good high school players (though they did hustle). They mostly were used in practices as warm bodies, and every once in a blue moon got to stand on the sidelines during a game or if a blowout even got the chance to do kickoffs if they were lucky.

 

Players 13, 14 and 15 are walk ons in basketball. They’re top academic players who were capable high school players, hustle in practice and keep the team APR up. 

I know a kid who was all conference and recruited to play at D2 and D3 programs. He worked out walking in with the coach of a top ranked D1 program. The kid decided he would rather learn how to be a coach from one of the best than play at a lower level. He’s now a graduate assistant coach in the program. He’s thinking about staying in the college ranks now rather than teaching and coaching high school. 

https://www.mlbdailydish.com/2...ospect-tanner-duncan

this guy tried out almost every year for east Carolina and the coach cut him every time,   I wonder how many other east Carolina pitcher were drafted or signed last yr?

Texas has had a couple of walkons  make the team over the last few years,  but I think they were invited walkons.     just this past yr a pitcher with good high school career but didn't throw hard  was playing in summer league and his coach knew Pierce and told him about him.   They invited him to walkon,    after a fall in the wt room and gaining 20lbs  he went from mid 80s to low 90s and might have a future with the team.  

Last edited by gunner34

There are 2 very valuable (and true) things to take away from this story IMO:                 1) Perseverance is sometimes rewarded.     2) Duncan’s quote of “like every other player coming out of HS I thought I was ready to play at the D1 level” is the gospel truth - and over 80% of these players (and parents) are wrong. 

What stood out to me was that he tried out as a shortstop. Sounds like the pitching came on late, I wonder what would've happened if he showed up at 92 in one of those years

Walked on at a D1 school to play basketball......... made the team. Was cut after the my first practice when an ineligible player became eligible. They let me keep my practice gear. Lived the dream for 24 hours......

Son played summer town ball with a player who made TCU as a walk on, not sure if it was preferred or not. Don't know if he played much, but it's no mystery why he was given a chance. The guy threw 90 when I saw him...weird, slow motion delivery, then ...zip! And that was in a relaxed setting.

 

D1 program, Early 80s, Sophomore year in college, sitting by the pool at my fraternity working on my second beer. Friend from HS who was a solid baseball player came by and said the team was having tryouts. He said he had an extra pair of cleats and another glove and gave me the hard sell to join him...that it would be fun. I changed and we walked over to the field where 100 plus were also trying out. I played 1 year of HS baseball and hit 0.86 (though I had played every year up to ninth grade). I had put on a few inches and 40 lbs since high school.  I was 6' 4" 210 lbs after graduating high school at 6' 3" 170. 

They had stations, and I joined the outfielders. I made all the plays and found out my arm had gotten much stronger. My speed was also much improved since HS, and I ran the bases pretty well. They had the pitchers who were trying out pitch live to us position players. Having messed around with lefty, and was terrible from the right side, I stepped in lefty. I hit the first pitch off the right center wall and slid safely into third, I was laughing a bit, as no one else knew how lucky that was. My next at bat I hit a line drive up the middle for a single. I was loose as can be, as I had not expected much out of the experience except having fun with my friend. 

After the 5 hour tryout, the head coach said he'd post on the board in the morning the names of players he'd like to come back the next day. He thanked us all, but cautioned us about our expectations. My friend had not played well as he was extremely nervous, so we went back to the fraternity to relax.

The next morning I walked by the field as it was on the way to class. There was a list of 5 players invited to come back that afternoon at 3 pm. My name was on the list. After another week of practicing and putting me through the paces, the head coach offered me a spot on the team, stating the obvious that I was raw but that he thought he could turn me into a baseball player. 

I played on the JV team the first year (JV teams were more common back then) then 3 years of varsity ball.  I was drafted my senior year, and played 1 year of minor league baseball before tearing my knee up pretty badly. 

Sounds made up, but it's true. All my teammates knew that I was a walk-on...but they didn't know the back story. Unfortunately my friend stopped talking to me. Baseball was his love and I think what happened was too bizarre for him to process. 

I wonder what is the total number each year that are true walk-ons in D1 baseball.  It has to be very low.  Then I wonder what of that number return for future years.  I've only known a couple in all my years and only 1 d1 and he did not last after first year due to lack of playing time. 

BU4ick posted:

D1 program, Early 80s, Sophomore year in college, sitting by the pool at my fraternity working on my second beer. Friend from HS who was a solid baseball player came by and said the team was having tryouts. He said he had an extra pair of cleats and another glove and gave me the hard sell to join him...that it would be fun. I changed and we walked over to the field where 100 plus were also trying out. I played 1 year of HS baseball and hit 0.86 (though I had played every year up to ninth grade). I had put on a few inches and 40 lbs since high school.  I was 6' 4" 210 lbs after graduating high school at 6' 3" 170. 

They had stations, and I joined the outfielders. I made all the plays and found out my arm had gotten much stronger. My speed was also much improved since HS, and I ran the bases pretty well. They had the pitchers who were trying out pitch live to us position players. Having messed around with lefty, and was terrible from the right side, I stepped in lefty. I hit the first pitch off the right center wall and slid safely into third, I was laughing a bit, as no one else knew how lucky that was. My next at bat I hit a line drive up the middle for a single. I was loose as can be, as I had not expected much out of the experience except having fun with my friend. 

After the 5 hour tryout, the head coach said he'd post on the board in the morning the names of players he'd like to come back the next day. He thanked us all, but cautioned us about our expectations. My friend had not played well as he was extremely nervous, so we went back to the fraternity to relax.

The next morning I walked by the field as it was on the way to class. There was a list of 5 players invited to come back that afternoon at 3 pm. My name was on the list. After another week of practicing and putting me through the paces, the head coach offered me a spot on the team, stating the obvious that I was raw but that he thought he could turn me into a baseball player. 

I played on the JV team the first year (JV teams were more common back then) then 3 years of varsity ball.  I was drafted my senior year, and played 1 year of minor league baseball before tearing my knee up pretty badly. 

Sounds made up, but it's true. All my teammates knew that I was a walk-on...but they didn't know the back story. Unfortunately my friend stopped talking to me. Baseball was his love and I think what happened was too bizarre for him to process. 

Nice story, trying to figure out the moral of the story.....maybe it's have a couple of beers in ya before every game?  

Love the Tim Becker story! Thanks for pointing it out. I'm printing these stories out, and saving them for a rainy day. I hope I never have to pull them out of the drawer, but ... just in case.

I've posted about my son's journey on this site before, but he walked on to a P5 D1 team this fall.  Started out going for OF, but his throws home got the pitching coach interested during the tryout.  They ran him over to the bullpen where he hit 91.  He's 6'4", 190lbs and they're telling him they can add weight/velocity to him.  They haven't released him yet and he's done some media pictures for team, but so have ALL fall ball players (39), so 4 are going to get bad news.  Son is optimistic still.  He doesn't know if/when players meeting will happen.  

My sons team D3 (reigning league champs 2x) had a freshman walk on and make the team. He came from out of the cornfield per se - out of state, no known contact just here I am. He could fly...6.5 type speed. 

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