Logan Verrett's earliest memory is walking through the dark concourses of the Houston Astrodome, then stepping out of the tunnel to see "how big and how perfect the field" seemed to be. At that moment, the young Verrett made up his mind. "I knew from then on that I was going to dedicate the majority of my life to becoming pretty good at this sport," he recalls.
More than a decade later, Verrett again felt that rush on arriving at a ballfield - this time, one in Waco. "I pulled into the parking lot at Baylor Ballpark," he says, remembering his first visit, "and I was just overwhelmed with how big and how nice and how professional everything was, from the red brick that makes everything look so clean, to the ushers that take you to your seat."
That first impression opened the door that led Verrett to Baylor, where over the past three years he has engraved his name in the program's recordbooks. At the end of his junior year, the Bears' ace most notably ranked seventh all-time at Baylor in career strikeouts, joining a list that includes former BU standouts such as Kip Wells and Jason Jennings, each of whom went on to long big league careers.
"I'm honored to be mentioned in the same sentence as those guys," says the Corpus Christi native. "I know they went on and had some pretty good careers. Just to get the opportunity to play in a major league ballpark for a major league team, that's pretty incredible, so I just hope I can continue on after my career here at Baylor, that I can go on and do what they did."
It appears Verrett will indeed get that chance, having been selected in the third round of this year's Major League Baseball draft by the New York Mets.
"It's something special," says Verrett, who followed the draft with his family in Corpus Christi. "Hopefully we can get something done; I think we will. I'm just excited about getting out there and starting my professional career. The past three years at Baylor have been great; I couldn't imagine doing it anywhere else."
Verrett first made a splash at Baylor in 2009, when he led the Bears in wins and saves as a true freshman working primarily out of the bullpen. He took over as the team's ace last season, earning second-team All-Big 12 honors and ranking among the Big 12 Conference top 10 in ERA, strikeouts and complete games.
After being named one of the top 20 prospects in the Cape Cod League by Baseball America last summer, Verrett continued to excel as a junior, leading the team in wins, ERA and strikeouts.
"I think that his best days are still in front of him," says Baylor head coach Steve Smith, BSED '86. "He's very good athletically. He's got a healthy arm. He's already got four pitches that play at this level, and I think he'll have that at the next level. I see a guy who's got a chance to pitch for a long time and be a guy in the big leagues. He's got all the ammunition."
That ammo, found in Verrett's strong right arm, could give him one more memorable ballpark entrance -- this time, perhaps, at Citi Field when he takes the mound for the first time as a major leaguer.
The 2011 Baylor baseball squad came tantalizingly close to the program's fourth super regional appearance, taking a three-run lead into the ninth inning of the NCAA Houston Regional championship before Cal rallied for the win.
Head coach Steve Smith's Bears battled through an up-and-down season, finishing with an RPI just outside the top 25 despite a record of just 31-28. Baylor placed fifth in the Big 12 but was one of just three schools from the conference (along with co-champs Texas and Texas A&M) to reach a regional championship game. In the end, the Bears settled for making at least the regional championship for the fifth time in the last 10 years.
First baseman Max Muncy and pitcher/outfielder Brooks Pinckard each earned All-Big 12 first-team honors from the league's coaches, while pitcher Logan Verrett made the second team. Verrett (third round, New York Mets), Pinckard (10th round, Cincinnati Reds) and infielder Landis Ware (44th round, Los Angeles Angels) were each selected in the 2011 major league draft.
Senior outfielder Chris Slater was named a first-team Capitol One Academic All-American in May, joining Jason Jennings and Jon Topolski as the only two-time Academic All-Americans in program history.