During his extended professional sports career, Ross Ohlendorf was affectionately known as "the smartest man in baseball." It all started in 2004, when Ohlendorf was still an undergraduate in the Ivy League, and was drafted in the fourth round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. After leaving college, Ohlendorf steadily climbed the ladder of the minor leagues, earning his first major league call-up as a relief pitcher for the New York Yankees in 2007. Afterwards, Ohlendorf would spend the next decade scoring Major League Baseball MLB roster spots on several teams, which came to rely on the veteran hurler for both his relieving and starting abilities. Among his many notable accomplishments in MLB, Ohlendorf famously pitched an "immaculate inning" (three strikeouts on nine pitches) against the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009, making him only the 40th pitcher to ever do so.

As a baseball player, Ohlendorf arrived at Princeton University a bit raw, since he'd mostly focused on playing basketball during his high school years. When he first got to New Jersey, the 6'4" pitcher had a fastball that already reached the mid-90s on the radar gun, but would need Princeton's baseball coaches to help him control and refine his throwing technique. A natural athlete, it didn't take long before Ohlendorf began making game-changing contributions to the Tigers' baseball squad. After being named the Ivy League’s freshman of the year, Ohlendorf became Princeton's ace on a pair of Ivy League championship teams during his sophomore and junior years.

Become a Subscriber

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading this article.

Subscribe Now

Ohlendorf was equally successful in the classroom, writing his senior thesis on the MLB first-year player draft and its financial impact on the game from 1989 to 1993. Along with a cumulative 3.75 GPA, Ohlendorf also received the George Mueller Award from Princeton for combining “high scholarly achievement in the study of engineering with quality performance in intercollegiate athletics.” In 2005, the baseball standout graduated with a major in Operations Research and Financial Engineering, a degree which combined mathematics, engineering, and economics.

Since answering the call of the big leagues, Ohlendorf continues to touch base regularly with his alma mater. In 2010, for instance, Ohlendorf and his canon-for-an arm were the subject of Princeton Alumni Weekly (PAW) feature titled, "Fast Pitch, Fast Mind." Three years later, the big leaguer was seen back on campus to take part in a public event that featured three other Princetonians playing in the MLB at the time. Ohlendorf was very complimentary of the University’s athletic program. "My education here really prepared me for professional baseball,” he said. “I think just with the idea of being able to learn from athletics, I’ve learned a lot about myself —about learning from failures, about what kind of mind frame I need to be in to perform at a high level.”