Swinging for nostalgia: baseball alumni return to the field

The men’s baseball team kicks off a weekend of tradition and reminiscence by welcoming back the alumni players for a weekend-long scrimmage against the alumni. The scrimmages takes place on Bruce Hurst Field Feb. 9-11 and will conclude with one final intrasquad scrimmage Feb. 11 starting at 11:30 a.m. Cora Mark | Sun News Daily

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The Utah Tech University baseball team is kicking off its 12th annual Alumni Weekend tradition steeped in camaraderie and nostalgia, Feb. 9 – Feb. 11.

Head coach Chris Pfatenhauer started the tradition when he became the head coach 12 years ago. He has been able to keep the tradition running strong as more players come every year.

“We want to make sure that they are not just our players for four years; they are embedded in our program,” coach Pfatenhauer said. “We call it our baseball family. They are in the family forever once they play here.”

The Alumni Weekend starts on Feb. 9 with a golf tournament. Afterward, the Trailblazers play an intrasquad scrimmage, and that evening Pfatenhauer hosts a get-together for the alumni to socialize. 

The alumni game takes place at Bruce Hurst Field Feb. 10, and the game begins at noon. The game is a six-inning outing that includes more than 40 alumni who have played at Utah Tech over the years. 

Pfatenhauer said the current team used to play the alumni team, but so many players come back to play that they get their own game now. He said he felt bad seeing 30 former players on the bench, so now they get to enjoy their own game. 

Prior to the first pitch of the alumni game, alum Logan Porter’s number is officially getting retired. He wore No. 46 during his time on the team. He graduated in 2018, and he was called up by the Kansas City Royals this past year, becoming the fourth player in Trailblazer history to be called up to the Major Leagues. He made an appearance in 11 games for the Royals last year. 

Following the alumni game is a barbecue. After that, Utah Tech has another intrasquad scrimmage beginning at 3 p.m.

On Saturday during the halftime of the men’s basketball game, Utah Tech is honoring the 2004 baseball team that won the National Junior College Athlete Association national championship.  

John Bowler, director of alumni relations, said it is important to honor players from the past. He said it reminds players they belong, and that every player contributes to the past, present and future of the school.

Pfatenhauer said the players look forward to the game more than you would expect. The current players are able to see former teammates that they played with. The current players are also able to interact with alumni that they never interacted or played with, but that they have heard a lot about.

“He [Coach Pfatenhauer] is always going to keep us around and involved,” Ryan Hardman, a senior marketing major from American Fork, said. “He keeps all the alumni coming back every year, and it is just awesome to see them.”

The weekend concludes with one final intrasquad scrimmage Feb. 11 starting at 11:30 a.m.

Hardman said: “You just don’t get forgotten as a player. Even two decades later, you still get remembered and you are still involved.”