Will Venable '05, Princeton's lone major leaguer on opening day, is approaching Moe Berg '23's career hits record for alumni. (Photo: Rick Scuteri, USA TODAY Sports)
Will Venable ’05’s day began with a home run and ended with a face full of shaving cream, courtesy of an exuberant teammate. In between, the San Diego Padres outfielder drove in four runs — including three on a bases-loaded triple — to lead his team to a 9-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers April 9. All things considered, it was a pretty good day.
Venable, now in his sixth major league season, was the only Princetonian on a big-league roster on opening day last week. (Pitchers Chris Young ’02 and Ross Ohlendorf ’05 are teammates on the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, an affiliate of the Washington Nationals.) Though he’s not known as a home-run hitter, his 46 major-league homers are the most by any Princeton alumnus, and he’s on pace to become the University’s most prolific hitter in the next few months. Catcher and World War II spy Moe Berg ’23 had 441 hits in his 15 major-league seasons; Venable currently has 405.
Venable grew up around baseball — his father, Max, played in the major leagues and in the Japanese pro league — but Princeton fans are more likely to remember his exploits on the basketball court, where he scored more than 1,000 career points and helped Princeton win the Ivy League title in his junior season, earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Venable starred in the Tigers’ opening-round loss to Texas.
In March, Venable reflected on the NCAA Tournament experience in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune. “You realize how important it is not to just your team but to everyone around the country,” he said. “It’s really something special to be a part of.”
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