11 Ivy League-Educated Major League Baseball Players

Lou Gehrig was a pitcher at Columbia University.
Lou Gehrig was a pitcher at Columbia University.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Baseball has often been described as the thinking man's game. Yogi Berra once said that America's national pastime was 90 percent mental, and the other half physical. If any player could make sense of such a statement, it's one of these guys.

C "“ Moe Berg

Moe Berg, who graduated magna cum laude from Princeton and earned a law degree from Columbia, was a light-hitting international man of mystery. Someone once observed that Berg "“ a lifetime .243 hitter "“ could speak 10 languages, but couldn't hit in any of them. The journeyman catcher, who hit six home runs in his 15-year career, inspired the phrase "good field, no hit" and a book by Nicholas Dawidoff. In The Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg, Dawidoff chronicled Berg's life as a ballplayer, lawyer, and spy. Berg accepted a position with the Office of Inter-American Affairs after retiring from baseball and screened footage he had taken of the Tokyo skyline during a 1934 visit to Japan with a group of All-Stars for U.S. intelligence officers. After joining the Office of Strategic Services in 1943, Berg was sent to Germany to attend a lecture by physicist Werner Heisenberg. Berg was given instructions to assassinate Heisenberg if he provided any indication that the Germans were close to developing an atomic bomb, but they apparently weren't. Berg, who died in 1972, was offered an advance to write an autobiography but turned it down because his editor mistook him for Moe Howard from the Three Stooges.

1B "“ Lou Gehrig

On the same day that Yankee Stadium opened in 1923, Columbia pitcher Lou Gehrig struck out a school-record 17 Williams batters in front of a crowd at South Field that included New York Yankees scout Paul Krichell. While Gehrig was a dominating pitcher "“ he held the Columbia career strikeout record until 1978 "“ Krichell coveted the lefthander's power at the plate even more and signed him to a pro contract a few months later. Gehrig never pitched for the Yankees, but he enjoyed a remarkable career as the Bronx Bombers' first baseman. In 1939, Gehrig's 2,130 consecutive games played streak was cut short when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal disease now more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Two years later, ALS took Gehrig's life. The "Iron Horse" was a two-time MVP, won the Triple Crown in 1934, and finished his career with a .340 lifetime average.

2B "“ Eddie Collins

Collins, who played quarterback at Columbia in addition to starring on the baseball field, was one of the greatest second basemen to ever play the game. Following his junior year at Columbia, the 5-foot-9 New York native joined a semi-pro summer league. In hopes of maintaining his final year of college eligibility, Collins played under the pseudonym "Eddie Sullivan." The Philadelphia Athletics signed him to a contract, however, and after Collins appeared in six pro games, he was declared ineligible for his senior season. Rather than leaving Columbia, Collins remained at the school to finish his degree while serving as an undergraduate coach. The wait was worth it. Collins eventually helped the Athletics to World Series championships in 1910, 1911 and 1913 before being traded to the White Sox in 1915. After his playing days were over, he was general manager of the Boston Red Sox from 1933-1947 and elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939. Collins remains the only major leaguer to play at least 12 seasons for two different teams. Author Jack Cavanaugh once said of Collins, "They called Collins "˜Cocky,' not because he was arrogant, but because he was filled with confidence based on sheer ability."

SS "“ Bill Almon

Almon became the first Ivy League athlete to be selected first overall in a professional draft when the San Diego Padres selected him with the No. 1 pick in 1974. Almon was coming off a record-breaking career at Brown and had been named the Player of the Year by The Sporting News after hitting .350 with 10 home runs, 31 RBI, and 20 stolen bases. While he never quite lived up to the hype in the majors, Almon was a serviceable utility player who played for seven different teams over his 15-year career. His best year came in the strike-shortened 1981 season, when he hit .301 for the White Sox.

3B "“ Red Rolfe

Rolfe graduated from Dartmouth in 1931 before joining Gehrig in the New York Yankees' well-educated and hard-hitting infield. While Rolfe wasn't known for his power, he possessed good speed and finished his 10-year career with a .289 average. Rolfe retired in 1942 and coached baseball and basketball at Yale for four years before becoming the Detroit Tigers' farm system director. In 1949, Rolfe was named Tigers manager. Detroit won 95 games and finished three games behind the Yankees in Rolfe's second season at the helm, but that was the pinnacle of his managerial career. Rolfe was fired in the middle of the 1952 season and returned to Dartmouth as the school's athletic director from 1954-1967. The Big Green's baseball field is named in honor of Rolfe, who died in 1969.

OF "“ Doug Glanville

Glanville hit .414 with six home runs and 15 stolen bases in his final year at Penn before the Chicago Cubs made him the 12th overall pick in the 1991 draft. Glanville played for three teams in his major league career before retiring in 2005, finishing with 1100 hits and 168 stolen bases. A quality defensive outfielder, Glanville's most productive season at the plate came in 1999, when he hit .325 and finished second in the National League with 204 hits for the Philadelphia Phillies. Glanville writes a semi-regular guest column for the New York Times about his life in the majors and general baseball issues, and is president of GK Alliance, which provides intellectual capital for startup companies.

OF "“ Fernando Perez

Perez, who studied creative writing and American studies at Columbia, was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the seventh round of the 2004 draft. One of the fastest players in baseball, Perez made his major league debut on August 31, 2008, and singled in his first at bat. Less than two weeks later, he hit his first major league home run in front of friends and family at Yankee Stadium. Perez showcased his speed in the postseason; he scored the winning run as a pinch runner in Game 2 of the ALCS against Boston after tagging up on a shallow fly ball. Perez kept a journal for MiLB.com during the 2007 season and continues to write short prose and personal essays in his spare time.

OF "“ Gene Larkin

Larkin majored in economics and broke most of Gehrig's records at Columbia before being selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 20th round of the 1984 draft. He made the Twins' big league roster in 1987 and was a member of Minnesota's first World Series championship team that year. In 1991, Larkin hit the game-winning single in Game 7 of the World Series to beat the Braves, 1-0. He was one of seven Twins to play on both title-winning teams. Paul Fernandes, Larkin's former coach at Columbia, watched the game on television. "When he hit the thing, it was so emotional"¦like watching your own child do something great," he told a reporter.

UTL "“ Mark DeRosa

DeRosa has a degree from the Wharton School of Business, so he knows a thing or two about making decisions. In 1996, DeRosa's decision was between signing a contract with the Braves, who selected him in the seventh round of the draft, or returning to Penn, where he was a two-sport star and an All-Ivy League quarterback for the Quakers' football team. The New Jersey native opted to sign and is coming off the best season of his career after hitting 21 homers and driving in 87 runs for the defending NL Central champion Chicago Cubs. Former teammate Reed Johnson told the New York Times last season that DeRosa is a little self-conscious about his Ivy League degree, but fits in just fine in the clubhouse. "I figured he'd be a straight-edge guy, not as funny or hard-working," Johnson said. "He said to me, "˜What, did you think I was a geeky, sweater-tied-around-my-neck Ivy League guy?'" DeRosa was traded to Cleveland in the offseason.

SP "“ Ron Darling

Darling majored in French and Southeast Asian history at Yale, where his stellar baseball career included a 1-0 loss to St. John's in which he didn't allow a hit for 11 innings. Darling was selected in the first round of the 1981 draft by the Texas Rangers and was traded to the New York Mets in 1982. The Hawaii native was a key member of the Mets' rotation when they won the World Series in 1986, winning 15 games and finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting. In a Sports Illustrated article that season, Darling said he could "envision [himself] as a professor." Since retiring with 136 career wins in 1995, Darling has become a fixture in the broadcast booth.

RP "“ Mike Remlinger

As a sophomore at Dartmouth, Remlinger led the NCAA with a 1.59 ERA in 1986, yet finished with a 7-7 record. Talk about a lack of run support. The San Francisco Giants selected the lefthander with the 16th pick in the 1987 draft. Remlinger appeared in 639 games during his 14-year major league career, all but 59 of them coming as a reliever. He was one of the few left-handed pitchers who fared better against righties than lefties. Remlinger retired in 2006, one year after missing part of the season with a fracture suffered when his pinky was pinched between two recliners in the Cubs' clubhouse.

Future Major Leaguer? "“ Shawn Haviland

Haven't heard of Haviland? You're not alone. The former Harvard star was drafted in the 33rd round of the 2008 draft by the Oakland Athletics and struck out 61 batters in 54 innings for the Vancouver Canadians, Oakland's Class A affiliate, last season. As he looks to follow in the footsteps of former Harvard-educated major leaguers, such as Jeff Musselman, Mike Stenhouse, and Peter Varney, you can keep tabs on Haviland's progress via his blog.

This Smart Accessory Converts Your Instant Pot Into an Air Fryer

Amazon
Amazon

If you can make a recipe in a slow cooker, Dutch oven, or rice cooker, you can likely adapt it for an Instant Pot. Now, this all-in-one cooker can be converted into an air fryer with one handy accessory.

This Instant Pot air fryer lid—currently available on Amazon for $80—adds six new cooking functions to your 6-quart Instant Pot. You can select the air fry setting to get food hot and crispy fast, using as little as 2 tablespoons of oil. Other options include roast, bake, broil, dehydrate, and reheat.

Many dishes you would prepare in the oven or on the stovetop can be made in your Instant Pot when you switch out the lids. Chicken wings, French fries, and onion rings are just a few of the possibilities mentioned in the product description. And if you're used to frying being a hot, arduous process, this lid works without consuming a ton of energy or heating up your kitchen.

The lid comes with a multi-level air fry basket, a broiling and dehydrating tray, and a protective pad and storage cover. Check it out on Amazon.

For more clever ways to use your Instant Pot, take a look at these recipes.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

13 Memorable Facts About D-Day

American troops landing on Omaha beach at Normandy on D-Day.
American troops landing on Omaha beach at Normandy on D-Day.
Keystone/Getty Images

The Normandy landings—an event better known as “D-Day”—became a pivotal moment in the Second World War. Heavy losses were inflicted on both sides, but with planning, deception, and semiaquatic tanks, the Allied forces pulled off what is considered the biggest amphibious invasion in history. Here are a few things you should know about the historic crusade to liberate France from Nazi Germany.

1. D-Day occurred on June 6, 1944.

The D-Day invasion was several years in the making. In December 1941, the United States formally entered World War II. Shortly thereafter, British and American strategists began entertaining the possibility of a huge offensive across the English Channel and into Nazi-occupied France. But first, the Allies swept through northern Africa and southern Italy, weakening the Axis hold on the Mediterranean Sea. Their strategy resulted in Italy’s unconditional surrender in September 1943 (though that wasn’t the end of the war in Italy). Earlier that year, the Western allies started making preparations for a campaign that would finally open up a new front in northwestern France. It was going to be an amphibious assault, with tens of thousands of men leaving England and then landing on France’s Atlantic coastline.

2. Normandy was chosen as the D-Day landing site because the Allies were hoping to surprise German forces.

Since the Germans would presumably expect an attack on the Pas de Calais—the closest point to the UK—the Allies decided to hit the beaches of Normandy instead. Normandy was also within flying distance of war planes stationed in England, and it had a conveniently located port.

3. D-Day action centered around five beaches that were code-named "Utah," "Omaha," "Gold," "Juno," and "Sword."

American assault troops and equipment landing on Omaha beach on the Northern coast of France.
Fox Photos/Getty Images

Altogether, the D-Day landing beaches encompassed 50 miles of coastline real estate [PDF]. The Canadian 3rd Division landed on Juno; British forces touched down on Gold and Sword; and the Americans were sent to Utah and Omaha. Of the five beaches, Omaha had the most bloodshed: Roughly 2400 American casualties—plus 1200 German casualties—occurred there. How the beaches got their code-names is a mystery, although it’s been claimed that American general Omar Bradley named “Omaha” and “Utah” after two of his staff carpenters. (One of the men came from Omaha, Nebraska, while the other called Provo, Utah, home.)

4. Pulling off the D-Day landings involved some elaborate trickery to fool the Nazis.

If the Allies landed in France, Hitler was confident that his men could repel them. “They will get the thrashing of their lives,” the Führer boasted. But in order to do that, the German military would need to know exactly where the Allied troops planned to begin their invasion. So in 1943, the Allies kicked off an ingenious misinformation campaign. Using everything from phony radio transmissions to inflatable tanks, they successfully convinced the Germans that the British and American forces planned to make landfall at the Pas de Calais. Duped by the charade, the Germans kept a large percentage of their troops stationed there (and in Norway, which was the rumored target of another bogus attack). That left Normandy relatively under-defended when D-Day came along.

5. D-Day was planned with the help of meteorologists.

The landings at Normandy and subsequent invasion of France were code-named “Operation Overlord,” and General Dwight D. Eisenhower (the future U.S. president) led the operation. To choose the right date for his invasion, Eisenhower consulted with three different teams of meteorologists, who predicted that in early June, the weather would be best on June 5, 6, or 7; if not then, they'd have to wait for late June.

Originally, Eisenhower wanted to start the operation on June 5. But the weather didn’t cooperate. To quote geophysicist Walter Munk, “On [that date], there were very high winds, and Eisenhower made the decision to wait 24 hours. However, 24 hours later, the Americans predicted there would be a break in the storm and that conditions would be difficult, but not impossible.” Ultimately, Ike began the attack on June 6, even though the weather was less than ideal. It’s worth noting that if he’d waited for a clearer day, the Germans might have been better prepared for his advance. (As for the dates they'd suggested for late June? There was a massive storm.)

6. "D-Day" was a common military term, according to Eisenhower's personal aide.

A few years after Eisenhower retired from public life, he was asked if the “D” in “D-day” stood for anything. In response to this inquiry, his aide Robert Schultz (a brigadier general) said that “any amphibious operation has a ‘departed date’; therefore the shortened term ‘D-Day’ is used” [PDF].

7. D-Day was among the largest amphibious assaults in military history.

U.S. troops in landing craft, during the D-Day landings.
Keystone/Getty Images

On D-Day, approximately 156,115 Allied troops—representing the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, New Zealand, Norway, and Poland—landed on the beaches of Normandy. They were accompanied by almost 7000 nautical vessels. In terms of aerial support, the Allies showed up with more than 10,000 individual aircrafts, which outnumbered the German planes 30 to one.

8. On D-Day, floating tanks were deployed by the Allies.

The brainchild of British engineers, the Sherman Duplex Drive Tanks (a.k.a. “Donald Duck” tanks) came with foldable canvas screens that could be unfurled at will, turning the vehicle into a crude boat. Once afloat, the tanks were driven forward with a set of propellers. They had a top nautical speed of just under 5 mph. The Duplex Drives that were sent to Juno, Sword, and Gold fared a lot better than those assigned to Omaha or Utah. The one at Omaha mostly sank because they had to travel across larger stretches of water—and they encountered choppier waves.

9. When the D-Day attack started, Adolf Hitler was asleep.

On the eve of D-Day, Hitler was entertaining Joseph Goebbels and some other guests at his home in the Alps. The dictator didn’t go to bed until 3 a.m. Just three and a half hours later, at 6:30 a.m., the opening land invasions at Normandy began. (And by that point, Allied gliders and paratroopers had been touching down nearby since 12:16 in the morning.) Hitler was finally roused at noon, when his arms minister informed him about the massive assault underway in Normandy. Hitler didn’t take it seriously and was slow to authorize a top general’s request for reinforcements. That mistake proved critical.

10. DWIGHT Eisenhower was fully prepared to accept blame if things went badly on D-Day.

General Dwight D Eisenhower watches the Allied landing operations from the deck of a warship in the English Channel on D-Day.
Keystone/Getty Images

While Hitler was partying in the Alps, Eisenhower was drafting a bleak message. The success of Operation Overlord was by no means guaranteed, and if something went horribly awry, Ike might have had no choice but to order a full retreat. So he preemptively wrote a brief statement that he intended to release if the invasion fell apart. “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops,” it said. “My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

11. Knocking out German communications was one of the keys to victory on D-Day.

Hitler may not have had all of his troops in the right spot, but the Germans who’d been stationed at Normandy did enjoy some crucial advantages. At many localities—Omaha Beach included—the Nazi forces had high-powered machine guns and fortified positions. That combination enabled them to mow down huge numbers of Allied troops. But before the dawn broke on June 6, British and American paratroopers had landed behind enemy lines and taken out vital lines of communication while capturing some important bridges. Ultimately, that helped turn the tide against Germany.

12. Theodore Roosevelt's son earned a medal of honor for fighting on D-Day.

It was the 56-year-old brigadier general Theodore Roosevelt Jr. who led the first wave of troops on Utah Beach. The men, who had been pushed off-course by the turbulent waters, missed their original destination by over 2000 yards. Undaunted, Roosevelt announced, “We’re going to start the war from right here.” Though he was arthritic and walked with a cane, Roosevelt insisted on putting himself right in the heart of the action. Under his leadership, the beach was taken in short order. Roosevelt, who died of natural causes one month later, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

13. D-Day was the opening chapter in a long campaign.

The Normandy invasion was not a one-day affair; it raged on until Allied forces crossed the River Seine in August [PDF]. Altogether, the Allies took about 200,000 casualties over the course of the campaign—including 4413 deaths on D-Day alone. According to the D-Day Center, “No reliable figures exist for the German losses, but it is estimated that around 200,000 were killed or wounded with approximately 200,000 more taken prisoner.” On May 7, 1945—less than a year after D-Day—Germany surrendered, ending the war in its European Theater.