May 22, 2012
OAKLAND, Calif. - Former Arizona State outfielder Kole Calhoun became the 100th Sun Devil to play Major League Baseball after making his debut for the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. Calhoun entered the game against the Oakland Athletics in right field in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The 100 players Arizona State has sent to the Major Leagues is the most of any school since 1959, the year baseball became a varsity sport at ASU, and ASU has had at least one major league player on their varsity roster from 1961 through 2010, which is the longest current streak in the nation. There are currently eight former Sun Devils on active Major League Baseball rosters, including Arizona Diamondback Willie Bloomquist, two-time All-Star Andre Ethier and 2008 American League Most Valuable Player Dustin Pedroia.
"The Arizona State baseball program prides itself on teaching our student-athletes how to be successful at both the collegiate and professional level," head baseball coach Tim Esmay said. "This milestone is a nod to the hard work and dedication our players and coaches have displayed throughout the past 53 seasons of Sun Devil baseball."
Sun Devil Athletics is planning a celebration to honor all 100 Major League players at the team's annual preseason banquet, which will be held early next year. The list of former Sun Devils who have played in the MLB include Floyd Bannister, Barry Bonds, Bob Horner, Reggie Jackson, Paul Lo Duca, Oddibe McDowell and Don Wakamatsu. Pete Lovrich was ASU's first Major Leaguer in 1963 and since then, former Sun Devils have won a combined nine Major League MVP awards and 53 Devils have appeared in the MLB All-Star Game.
The Sun Devils have the third-most all-time Major League players behind the University of Southern California (106) and the University of Texas (105). ASU's major leaguers all debuted since 1963, while Texas (1908) and USC (1927) have a much longer history of sending players to the big leagues. Texas' list also includes three freshman-only players, while USC has five freshman-only players.
Calhoun was selected by the Angels in the eighth round (264th overall) of the 2010 MLB draft and joins former Sun Devil Andrew Romine, who made his Major League debut with the Angels in September 2010. Calhoun leads Triple-A Salt Lake with 31 RBI and 50 hits in 43 games this season.
Calhoun started 117 of the 125 games he appeared in for the Sun Devils and hit .317 with 112 RBI and 29 home runs in his two seasons at ASU. He earned First Team All-Pac-10 honors and All-West Region recognition from the ABCA after hitting .321 with a team-leading 17 home runs and 59 RBI as a co-captain in 2010. He homered in seven of his final eight games at Packard Stadium and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tempe Regional. He also led the Pac-10 with 64 walks in his senior year, including a school-record tying five in the first game of the Super Regional against Arkansas.
Known as the "Mayor of Omaha," he was named to the 2009 All-College World Series team after hitting .563 with three home runs and 11 RBI in that year's College World Series, and is one of only four Sun Devils to ever hit a grand slam at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb. He was also an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection that season and was named to the All-Tempe Regional team after playing in 63 games and making 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Calhoun earned his BIS degree from Arizona State University and graduated on May 15, 2010, the same day he homered in a win over Arizona in Tucson.
A 2006 graduate of Buckeye (Ariz.) High School, Calhoun said he chose to play at ASU because he's "been a Devil my whole life at heart" and wanted his grandfather, who has been a lifelong ASU fan and lives in Tempe, to be able to watch him play.