Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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8/25/11: Ryan Lavarnway ’09

The last time a Yalie appeared in Major League Baseball as a position player (i.e. not a pitcher), the Dodgers were still playing in Brooklyn (we’re talking 1957)—until last Thursday, when Ryan Lavarnway ’09 was called up from Pawtucket to be the designated hitter for the league-leading Boston Red Sox. Tapped to fill in when Kevin Youkilis went on the disabled list, Lavarnway had played seven games for the Sox as of Wednesday night, hitting .304 with 7 hits and 3 RBI.

Lavarnway, a 6'4" catcher from Burbank, California, left Yale after his junior year when he was taken in the MLB draft. He has been a standout hitter in the Red Sox farm system, and baseball watchers think he has a future in the majors. The return of designated hitter David “Papi” Ortiz from the disabled list on Wednesday left Lavarnway’s immediate future unclear, though. The Sox could keep him on or send him back to Pawtucket for the rest of August.

But with the Oakland A’s coming to Boston’s Fenway Park this weekend, the stage is set for a rare event: Craig Breslow ’02, a relief pitcher for the A’s, is currently the only other Yalie in the majors, so there’s a chance, however remote, of an Eli-on-Eli duel at the plate this weekend. Breslow topped the Sporting News’s list of the “20 smartest athletes in sports” last year. The media have yet to weigh in on philosophy major Lavarnway’s mental prowess, but the blog Babes Love Baseball recently declared him “adorable.”

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