Leading up to the Friday, October 26 CMU Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, members of the Class of 2012 will be periodically featured with an article on cmuchippewas.com. Friday evening's event is free of charge and open to the public. It begins at 7 p.m. in McGuirk Arena.
Kevin Young wasn't recruited to play baseball at Central Michigan University.
Instead, he contacted CMU head coach Dean Kreiner and had to sell the Chippewa skipper on his potential.
Little did Kreiner know that the unrecruited outfielder would develop into an All-America selection at third base.
"After he contacted us, we got in touch with a few people who were familiar with him and we were pleased he enrolled at CMU," Kreiner said. "It happens every once in a while that someone comes to you and ends up being better than all they guys you recruited. We can't see everyone in the state and sometimes guys can really develop while in college. Kevin had a great attitude and that's what made him a special player."
The outfielder impressed the coaching staff in the fall of his freshman year and he ended up earning a spot in the lineup when the season rolled around in the spring. Young hit .359 as a rookie and notched second team All-Mid-American Conference honors but his big break came as a junior when he changed positions.
"We were hurting at third and Kevin said he had played there before so we tried playing him there in the fall," Kreiner said. "He made tremendous strides defensively and ended up being a fine third baseman."
Fine may be an understatement as the transition led to an explosion for Young at the plate. In 1994 he earned All-America honors at third and was the MAC Player of the Year after winning the league's triple crown. He hit .415 that year while blasting 17 homers and driving in 63 runs. The RBI total tied CMU's single-season record while the home run tally ranked second.
He was a second team All-America selection by Collegiate Baseball and a third team honoree by Baseball America.
"He hit the ball hard," Kreiner said. "I had always told people that I didn't get hit by batted balls while coaching third base. But, one time when Kevin was up I never got out of the way and he hit me and my leg really swelled up and was black and blue. That's one of the memories I have of him was getting hit."
Young helped lead CMU to the 1993 MAC regular season championship and the 1994 MAC Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Following his junior year, the Farmington Hills, Mich., native was drafted in the 11th round of the 1994 amateur draft by the California Angels. He played four seasons in the minor leagues and reached double-A in 1997.
Despite playing just three seasons at CMU, Young's name was scattered throughout the career record book. He ranked third in school history for extra base hits (67), fourth in doubles (37) and home runs (27) and fifth in slugging percentage (.615).
Young passed away unexpectedly in 2008 at the age of 36. He is survived by his wife, Michelle, and children, Hanna and Liam.
The All-American is immortalized by the baseball program with the Kevin Young Endowment Award. The award is given annually to a CMU baseball player who strives to embody several qualities, including being competitive, fair, honest and a leader.
Kevin will be inducted into the CMU Marcy Weston Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 26, in a ceremony at McGuirk Arena. The event is free and open to the public beginning at 7 p.m.
In addition, the induction class will be recognized at halftime of the CMU-Akron football game on Saturday, Oct. 27. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.
Also being honored as part of the CMU Marcy Weston Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2012 are Allison Campbell (women's soccer; 2000-01), Craig Fuller (cross country/track and field; 1982-2008), Carleton Kinkade (wrestling; 1984-88), Hope Robertshaw (softball, 1998-2001) and David Webber (men's basketball; 1999-2002).
Don Helinski is a Hall of Fame committee member and former CMU Sports Information Director.