For a football school, Notre Dame has produced some fine Major League Baseball players

Michael Wanbaugh
South Bend Tribune

Last week the Notre Dame football program had six players selected in the 2020 NFL draft, upping its all-time total to 511 — tied with USC as the most ever.

While the Irish baseball team draft numbers aren’t nearly that gaudy, Notre Dame does have a long history of putting players into the Major Leagues. According to the Baseball Reference website, 105 Notre Dame baseball players have been drafted since 1965 with 19 of them making it to the bigs.

Future Major League hopefuls on this year’s team are right-hand pitcher Joe Boyle and first baseman Niko Kavadas, both high on mock draft boards.

Off to a strong, 11-2 start through mid-March that included a three-game sweep at perennial power North Carolina, Notre Dame’s season fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, without college baseball to look forward to the rest of this year, we thought we’d look back at some of the Notre Dame alumni who made it to the Major Leagues.

Play ball.

ABOVE: Notre Dame alum Craig Counsell has beer poured on him by Randy Johnson after winning the 2001 National League Championship Series MVP for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Counsell played 16 seasons in the majors and is now manager of the Milwaukee Brewers.

INFIELDCraig Counsell


6 foot, 180 pounds

Bats left, throws right

Born Aug. 21, 1970

Born in South Bend and raised in the Milwaukee, Wis. area, Counsell was not large in stature, but managed to carve out a 16-year Major League playing career with five different teams. His two defining moments came on the game’s biggest stage: Game 7 of the World Series. In 1997 Counsell scored the winning run in the 11th inning on a single by Edgar Renteria as the Florida Marlins defeated the Cleveland Indians. In 2001, Counsell was again on base when the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied in the bottom of the ninth inning to dethrone the three time defending World Series champion New York Yankees. Counsell earned the National League Championship Series MVP award against the Atlanta Braves that year. Counsell has been the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers since 2015.

Trey Mancini


6-foot-4, 215 pounds

Bats right, throws right

Born March 18, 1992

Mancini played three years for the Irish before entering the MLB draft as a junior in 2013 where he was selected in the eighth round by the Baltimore Orioles. Once getting called up to the bigs in September 2016, Mancini showed the O’s what they were getting. He homered in his second career at bat. The next day he became the 20th player in MLB history to hit home runs in their first two games and the third player to homer in their first three games. He is the only Oriole in team history to belt five dingers in their first 10 games. A first baseman in college, Mancini transitioned into mostly an outfield role in Baltimore. Since being called up, Mancini has hit 89 home runs and driven in 238 runs. Mancini was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer last month and left Spring Training for treatment. He is not expected to return this year.

George Cutshaw


5-foot-9, 160 pounds

Bats right, throws right

Born July 29, 1887; Died Aug. 22, 1973

Cutshaw was far from a Hall of Famer, but did put up solid numbers for 12 seasons, mostly in the dead-ball era. He accumulated 1,487 career hits with Brooklyn, Pittsburgh and Detroit. In 1920 with the Pirates he led the league in sacrifices with 37.

Billy Sullivan


6-foot, 170 pounds

Bats left, throws right

Born Oct. 23, 1910; Died Jan. 4, 1994

Mostly an infielder, Sullivan’s numbers were pretty pedestrian as a journeyman, but he did manage to play 11 years in the majors with six different teams. His best year was 1936 for the Cleveland Indians when he hit .315 for the season. He did play in the 1940 World Series for the Detroit Tigers and slapped two hits and scored three runs in five games. The Cincinnati Reds would go on to win that series, 4-3.

Former Notre Dame second baseman Cavan Biggio made his Major League debut last year for the Toronto Blue Jays and hit for the cycle against the Baltimore Orioles. 

Cavan Biggio


6-foot-1, 203 pounds

Bats left, throws right

Born April 11, 1995

The son of 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Craig Biggio, Cavan played three seasons with the Irish, batting .272 with 15 homers, 70 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. He was selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Biggio made his Major League debut last year and played 100 games and slugged 16 home runs. The highlight of his rookie campaign came on Sept. 19, 2019 when he hit for the cycle against the Baltimore Orioles. 

Cap Anson


6-foot, 227 pounds

Bats right, throws right

Born April 17, 1852; Died April 14, 1922

Anson, considered one of the best players of his era, was sent to Notre Dame by his father shortly after the Civil War in the hope the school would curb his mischievousness. He left after two years. Anson made his professional debut in 1871 for the Rockford Forest Cities and would play a record 27 consecutive Big League seasons, most with the Chicago Cubs. He finished his Hall of Fame career with 3,435 hits.

OUTFIELDCarl “Yaz” Yastrzemski


5-foot-11, 182 pounds

Bats left, throws right

Born Aug. 22, 1939

Yes, that Carl Yastrzemski. But there's an asterisk alert. Yastrzemski was attending Notre Dame on a basketball scholarship in 1958 when he signed with the Boston Red Sox as a freshman. So, he never actually played baseball for the Irish, but did go on to have a Hall of Fame baseball career. Yaz broke into the Majors in 1961 and over the next 23 seasons would become one of the most prolific and beloved Red Sox players in history. He would win three batting titles (1963, 1967 and 1968) and the 1967 Triple Crown, batting .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBIs. It would be 45 years until another player would accomplish that feat (Miguel Cabrera in 2012).

ndbaseball042708e.jpgA.J. Pollock, slides back to first base for Notre Dame in this 2009 file photo. Pollock, now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was an All-Star in 2015 for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A.J. Pollock


6-foot-1, 212 pounds

Bats right, throws right.

Born Dec. 5, 1987

Pollock played both outfield and third base for the Irish and displayed a wide range of ability. He led the team in batting three straight years and stole 21 bases in 25 attempts his junior year while going errorless in the field. The Arizona Diamondbacks picked him 17th overall in the 2009 draft and he ended up playing 63 games that year for their Class A affiliate South Bend Silver Hawks. Pollock made his major league debut in 2012 and had his best year in 2015, batting .315 with 20 home runs, 76 RBIs and 39 stolen bases. He was named an N.L. All-Star and earned the Gold Glove in center field. Pollock currently plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cy Williams


6-foot-2, 180 pounds

Bats left, throws left

Born Dec. 21, 1887; Died April 23, 1974

Williams, from Wadena, Ind., played 19 years in the big leagues — six with the Cubs and 13 with the Phillies. When he retired at 43, he had 1,981 hits, 251 home runs and 1,005 RBIs. He would lead the National League in home runs four times — 12 in 1916, 15 in 1920, 41 in 1923 and 30 in 1927. He never played in a World Series.

John Mohardt


5-foot-10, 165 pounds

Bats right, throws right

Born Jan. 21, 1898; Died Nov. 24, 1961

An All-American halfback for Knute Rockne’s Notre Dame football team, Mohardt also dabbled in baseball. He played in just five games for the Detroit Tigers in 1922, singling and walking in his only career plate appearances and scoring both times. His career batting average remains a perfect 1.000. Mohardt went on to play in the NFL for the Chicago Cardinals and Bears and later became a doctor. Almost sounds like a movie.



6-foot-6, 215 pounds

Bats right, throws right

Born Nov. 11, 1942

Reed grew up in LaPorte and graduated from LaPorte High School. A two sport athlete at Notre Dame in the early 1960s, Reed also excelled in basketball, averaging 19 points and 14.3 rebounds per game over his basketball career. He was drafted in the third round by the Detroit Pistons and played two years in the NBA. He then turned his attention to baseball, making his Major League debut for the Atlanta Braves in 1966. Reed went on to pitch 19 seasons on four different teams, winning a career high 18 games for the Braves in 1969 and 146 overall. Midway through his career Reed transitioned to the bullpen with the Philadelphia Phillies where he was part of the 1980 World Series championship team. He pitched in two games that series, both Philadelphia wins, and earned the Game 2 save against the Kansas City Royals.

AT TOP: Former Notre Dame standout Brad Lidge closed out the Philadelphia Phillies’ Game 5 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays to clinch the 2008 World Series. Lidge, who starred at Notre Dame, converted all 48 of his save opportunities that season.

Brad Lidge


6-foot-5, 201 pounds

Bats right, throws right

Born Dec. 23, 1976

While at Notre Dame Lidge won the Big East Conference player of the year award and was drafted in the first round of the 1998 MLB draft 17th overall by the Houston Astros. The hard-throwing right-hander went on to be one of the game’s most dominant closers for a time, earning the nickname, “Lights Out.” The two-time All-Star would save 225 career games, combine with five other Astros pitcher to no-hit the New York Yankees and pitch in two World Series. His best season was nothing short of perfection. In 2008 he was 41-for-41 in save chances in the regular season for the Philadelphia Phillies, and seven for seven in that year’s postseason. He earned the final out of the World Series with a strikeout against the Rays in Game 5. He won the Delivery Man of the Year and Rolaids Relief Man awards that year while finishing eighth in the National League MVP voting.

Aaron Heilman


6-foot-5, 220 pounds

Bats right, throws right

Born Nov. 12, 1978

Born and raised in Logansport, Ind., Heilman went on to have a monster career for the Irish, winning 43 games, striking out 425 batters and twice being named Big East Pitcher of the Year. The New York Mets took notice, drafting Heilman with the 18th overall pick in the 2001 draft. The right-hander began his MLB career as a starter, but eventually was moved to the bullpen midway through his nine-year career. His best game as a professional was a one-hit, complete-game shutout in a spot start against the Florida Marlins. Heilman would post a 35-46 career record with a 4.40 ERA.

NOTRE DAME SAMARDZIJA BASEBALLNotre Dame pitcher Jeff Samardzija delivers a pitch in 2006. Samardzija, who also was an All-American football player, has pitched in the Major Leagues since making his debut in 2008.

Jeff Samardzija


6-foot-5, 240 pounds

Bats right, throws right

Born Jan. 23, 1985

Coming out of college, the question was whether Samardzija would play football or baseball. An All-American wide receiver, “The Shark” was also a starting pitcher on the baseball team, winning 21 games in three seasons while striking out 159 batters. The Chicago Cubs drafted Samardzija in the fifth round and baseball was the choice. And he’s still going. The Shark worked his way into the Cubs’ starting rotation where he started 78 games between 2012-14 before he was traded to the Oakland A’s. Samardzija signed a big contract with the San Francisco Giants in 2016. He has 80 career victories and is eligible for free agency in 2021.

David Phelps


6-foot-2, 200 pounds

Bats right, throws right

Born Oct. 09, 1986

After three years with the Irish, Phelps was selected by the New York Yankees in the 14th round of the 2008 draft. He eventually worked his way into the starting rotation where Phelps won 13 games in 40 starts from 2012-14. Now mostly a bullpen pitcher, Phelps has a 32-34 career record with a 3.86 ERA in stints with the Yankees, Marlins, Mariners, Blue Jays and Cubs. Phelps is currently with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Notre Dame's A.J. Pollock (4) is welcomed home after scoring a run during the third inning of the game against St. John's at Eck Stadium at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., on Sunday April 27, 2008.