WEST HAVEN, Conn. – Saturday, Ron DeSantis '01 accepted the Yale Baseball Man of the Year Award at the first annual Yale Baseball Leadoff Dinner.
The Leadoff Dinner brought many members of the Yale community together at the Kenney Center and raised money for the baseball program as it prepares to open its season at the end of the month. Many Yale alumni were in attendance, including multiple former Yale baseball players like DeSantis.
DeSantis, a former Yale Baseball captain, has kept plenty busy in the 13 years after graduating. After being sworn into the Judge Advocate General Corps of the U.S. Navy while earning a J.D. from Harvard Law School, he worked for the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo Commander. DeSantis would later serve as a Legal Advisor to the Navy SEAL Commander in Iraq, earning the Bronze Star Medal and Iraq Campaign Medal. He currently holds the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve. In 2012, DeSantis won the 6th congressional district in Florida in his first political campaign. Since then, he has been a strong voice for accountability from government officials.
Yale Baseball Head Coach John Stuper, who coached DeSantis during his time at Yale, recounted some lighthearted stories from DeSantis' time as a Yale player, including how DeSantis was picked off his first time on base as a freshman. Stuper noted the go-get attitude of DeSantis, who worked at many of the Yale baseball skills camps and even Stuper's wedding as a videographer. Overall, Stuper said he was most impressed by the congressman's work ethic and character, both on and off the field.
"He is truly a man of the people," said Stuper. "I'm so proud to call him a former player of mine, but I'm even prouder to call him my friend."
DeSantis spoke to the group of about 70 about what the Yale baseball program meant to him.
"I wasn't someone destined to go to the Ivy League ... The fact that we had the camaraderie of Yale baseball made Yale a positive experience for me," said DeSantis. He credited the diversity of the players with creating a tighter bond, saying that "even though we probably have different upbringings, I think we do have the similarity of [leaving a unique] community to come to Yale. We all have that in common."
DeSantis appreciated reconnecting with Yale alumni at the dinner and hearing about prominent Yalies like recent World Series Champion Craig Breslow '02. He finished by addressing the current Yale players, who were in attendance. Said DeSantis, "It's good memories you guys will have, so just make the most of it."
The Bulldogs look ahead to their season opener, which will be at Louisiana State University on February 28th.
Report by Skylar Shibayama '16, Yale Sports Publicity