He can turn a double play faster than most of us can write down the problem statement for our physics homework, and steal second base in his sleep. So while the baseball team may have had its ups and downs in the past four years, senior standout Tyler Thornton has definitely done his part to help grow the rebuilding team.
Although the growth of the baseball team may have gone unnoticed due to the deserved success of other programs, there is no doubt that the Oredigger baseball team, one that barely won double digit games four years ago, is steadily improving. In 2009, Thornton’s freshman year, the team finished a rough 10-37 overall and 7-27 in the RMAC. But the following year, they earned 12 wins and in 2011 pushed the win total to 17, the second highest since 2002. With 15 regular season games remaining in 2012, plus the RMAC tournament, the Orediggers are looking to build upon the growth of the past few years and keep the program headed in the right direction.
A large component of that growth is Thornton. As a team captain each of the past two seasons, Thornton leads by example on the field. In his junior year alone, the shortstop was named a First Team All RMAC selection 2011, a Second Team ABCA Golden Glove selection, was ranked second in the RMAC in assists with 153, and was ranked in the top 15 in six different categories including total number of hits (60) and stolen bases (11).
Thornton’s middle name is Phan, pronounced “fun”, and the shortstop from Colorado has definitely done everything he can to enjoy his four year career as an Oredigger. Although he will soon relinquish his Oredigger uniform, his success and leadership as a part of the baseball team will surely live on. For his efforts and successes throughout his career, Thornton is this week’s Athlete of the Week.
[Oredigger] When did you start playing baseball?
[Thornton] I’ve been playing baseball since I can remember. I kind of think I was born to play ball. Also my dad played baseball, so it’s been a family thing.
What do you like about baseball?
Baseball isn’t just something you like—you love it, you have to love it to be able to endure the year-round season. It is the greatest game ever invented, a true American game played by real American men.
What is your best baseball memory?
[My] favorite baseball memory has to be all the roadtrips to different places to play ball. I could travel year-round on a bus playing baseball.
Do you have a baseball idol?
David Eckstein is my idol because he’s a little man who made it and was better than most because of how hard he played.
Favorite MLB team?
[I would] have to go with the hometown team, the Colorado Rockies.
If you could play in any baseball park in the world, where would you play?
If I could play in any baseball stadium, I would go back in time and play at old Yankee Stadium. The greatest players of all time played there.
What are your favorite and least favorite classes you’ve taken?
My favorite class I’ve taken is yoga with Lindsay. My least favorite class was Differential Equations.
Nerdiest thing you have seen on campus?
The whole school is so nerdy you stop noticing things. Everything is normal now… I’m desensitized to this place.
What would you change about Mines?
The one thing I would change about Mines is [putting] more focus on athletics and not having so much overbearing school work.
Do you have any pre-game rituals?
No pre game rituals, but I do love to eat the orange flavored glucose tablets from the training room.
What has Mines taught you over the past four years?
If I’ve learned anything, it’s to just stick it out and deal with any curve ball life has to throw at you.
Classy. Do you have other hobbies besides baseball?
I have a lot of hobbies. I like being outside, but my favorite hobby is fishing. There’s nothing better than going fishing with my paps.