From 1898 to 2023: Celebrating the 125-year history of Bridgewater College baseball

Logo of Bridgewater College Baseball with 4 images of B-C baseball in a row.

Founded only 18 years after Bridgewater College first opened its doors (as Spring Creek Normal School in 1880), Bridgewater College baseball is the oldest athletic program on campus.

First organized in 1898, the beginnings of the team’s rich history predate the invention of the airplane and the mass production of the automobile. BC baseball teams initially traveled to away games via horse-drawn hay wagon. The first intercollegiate win in school history came in 1904, with baseball defeating Eastern College in Front Royal, 27-11.

black and white team photo of the 1901 baseball team
Bridgewater baseball circa 1901

At the suggestion of baseball player C.E. “Tiny” May ’24, BC athletics teams adopted the moniker “Eagles” in January 1923—yes, the College’s teams have been the Eagles for 100 years! In May 1925, his brother, Emery E. “Kit” May ’25, would hit the first home run at Riverside Field (now Jopson Field). Later that year, Kit May became Bridgewater’s first professional athlete when he signed with the Philadelphia Athletics (now Oakland Athletics) as a pitcher.

Bennie Huffman ’38 would debut in the major leagues as a catcher for the St. Louis Browns in 1937, though his career was cut short due to injury. Huffman would go on to a 36-year career as a scout for the Chicago White Sox organization and was inducted as a charter member of the Bridgewater College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994.

Numerous Bridgewater players would go on to professional contracts and minor league play over the years, while Bridgewater College baseball teams were consistently successful in their conferences. Bridgewater’s conference championships prior to the formation of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) included a Chesapeake Athletic Conference championship in 1937 and a Little Six Mason-Dixon Conference championship in 1942.

Dr. Daniel “Danny” Geiser coached baseball at Bridgewater for 20 years following World War II, from 1946 to 1966. Bridgewater won the Little Eight Mason-Dixon Conference championship in 1960 and 1962, and Geiser was recognized as Virginia Coach of the Year in 1962. Geiser also coached basketball and football during his tenure and began the health and physical education major at Bridgewater.

Following Geiser’s departure, Bridgewater’s head baseball coaches included Buddy Comer ’65, Ray Heatwole ’67 and Dr. Jim Reedy ’61. Heatwole led the team to a Virginia College Athletic Association title in 1973. And in 1975-76, Bridgewater joined the ODAC as a charter member. The baseball team would go on to win the conference championship in just their second season of ODAC play in 1978, when Reedy was named ODAC Coach of the Year. Dr. Tom Kinder would take over the following year, leading Bridgewater to its second ODAC title in 1985 and earning ODAC Coach of the Year honors as well.

Curt Kendall ’81, who initially wanted to play basketball in college but excelled as an all-conference third baseman for the Eagles, would lead Bridgewater baseball for 34 seasons from 1986 to 2019. The winningest NCAA Division III baseball coach in the state of Virginia with a record of 790-528-10, Kendall led his teams to 12 ODAC championships, 10 appearances in the NCAA regional tournament and the record for most wins in a season (36 in 2014). Named ODAC Coach of the Year six times, he was also named Virginia Coach of the Year three times and has been the College’s Athletic Director since 2000.

Baseball players celebrating in a huddle
Bridgewater baseball celebrating their win at the 1994 ODAC championship

Kendall still cherishes the memory of meeting legendary alumni such as Bennie Huffman, who would show up at baseball games and informal alumni games into the 1970s. “When I came to Bridgewater, we already had decades of history of players like Huffman and the Mays going on to play professionally, as well as championships in the Chesapeake, Little Six and Little Eight.”   

He also noted that Bridgewater baseball has a history of producing alumni who follow two major paths: some excel in business and become leaders and entrepreneurs in their chosen area, while others become teachers and coaches, largely in high school. Many exceptional teachers and coaches have backgrounds in Bridgewater College athletics. Perhaps baseball’s most notable example is Barry Davis ’87, the Head Baseball Coach for Rider University’s NCAA Division I program.

Kendall was succeeded by Ben Spotts ’97, who played on BC’s 1994, 1995 and 1996 ODAC championship teams as a first baseman. Spotts had previously served as an assistant coach with Kendall from 1998 to 2012, prior to a six-year tenure as Head Baseball Coach for Eastern Mennonite University.

Now in his fourth season as Bridgewater’s Head Baseball Coach, Spotts has long had a passion for the history of Bridgewater baseball and consistently reminds current players and alumni alike that they are part of a long and storied tradition. The Eagles’ 14 ODAC championships are by far the most in the conference, while the championship teams from the 1990s on which Spotts played have been named Teams of Distinction and will be inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame on March 18. Thirty-three individuals associated with Bridgewater baseball, as players, coaches or both, have been inducted into Bridgewater’s Hall of Fame to date (see list below).

Overcoming adversity, understanding hard work and commitment, working together toward a common goal—these are just a few of the life lessons Spotts hopes his baseball players take with them as they head into careers after graduation.

Spotts said that when he realized the 125th anniversary was approaching, he wanted to use it as an opportunity to bring players from across the decades together, to “celebrate their common bonds and the program as a whole.” The alumni event, scheduled for March 17, will feature a social hour and brief program honoring the program’s legacy.

— By Olivia Shifflett

Bridgewater Baseball Championships

Chesapeake Athletic Conference1937
Little Six, Mason-Dixon Conference1942
Little Eight, Mason-Dixon Conference1960, 1962
Virginia College Athletic Association1973
Old Dominion Athletic Conference1978, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2010, 2014
Words Bridgewater College Baseball 125 Celebrating 125 years 1989-2023 inside of a baseball graphic

Bridgewater Eagles Eagle Head Mark

Baseball players and coaches in the Bridgewater College Athletic Hall of Fame

Note: Many inductees over the years have excelled in multiple sports, both as a player and as a coach.

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