KANSAS CITY -- Frank Herrmann will always remember Joe Walsh as a friend and a person who played a key role in his path to the big leagues. That is why the pitcher was incredibly saddened when he learned Tuesday that the Harvard baseball coach had passed away.
"He was awesome," said Herrmann, who pitched for the Indians the past two seasons and is now with Triple-A Columbus. "He always told me, every time I talked to him, how proud he was of me, that he could say he coached a guy in the Major Leagues. He was great. I was upset this morning and shocked."
Walsh, 58, died suddenly in his home on Tuesday morning. He spent 17 years as Harvard's baseball coach, leading the team to five Ivy League titles in his tenure. Herrmann, who became the 16th player from Harvard to reach the big leagues when he broke in with Cleveland in 2010, said Walsh was the reason he chose to attend the university.
"He took a chance on me," Herrmann said. "I'm a guy who didn't get any Division I scholarship offers. He committed to me early. It's the only school I applied to and a lot of that was him. Obviously, it was Harvard, but meeting him and getting to know him -- my dad and I went up for a visit -- I instantly loved Coach Walsh."
Herrmann said Walsh convinced the pitcher to hold tight to his dream of reaching the Majors.
"I remember my freshman year, I thought about hanging it up," Herrmann recalled. "I was thinking about hanging it up, and just going down the economics course and working on Wall Street. He told me he saw something in me and to keep plugging away. And then I remember my sophomore year, I was throwing a bullpen and he told me I just went from suspect to prospect."
"He was such a good guy and he meant a lot to me," he later added. "He was a one-of-a-kind guy. I think anyone that knows him would say that."